Wednesday, January 9, 2008

My Secret Obsession

I do it when I'm stressed. I do it when I'm working and need to take a break to clear my mind. Sometimes I do it before I go to bed at night. Sometimes I do it several times in a row.

It sooths me. I helps me put my tangled thoughts in order.

I'm talking, of course, about that simple yet insidious game that steals large chunks of my life in tiny, 5-minute increments:

Spider Solitaire.

When I first found it pre-installed on my computer, I tried it because I was bored with regular solitaire. I didn't know the rules, and I found it really frustrating. But for some reason, I kept trying until I figured out the rules. Then I kept trying until I figured out the strategies to help you win. Then I got pretty good at it.

Why, oh why, when I have such a busy life right now, do I waste my precious minutes on a silly computer solitaire game?

I think it's because the skills required to be good at Spider Solitaire are a simpler, purer form of the very same skills required to succeed at my task of trying to keep this farm afloat.

You start out with a random selection of opportunities, which you must combine and recombine to make the most orderly and successful arrangement possible. You are arbitrarily limited in what moves you can make, even when you can see other opportunities that are just out of reach. And you have to make some of your decisions based on incomplete data, because you can't see all the cards that are hidden and you don't know what new cards you'll be dealt.

And, as in life, sometimes things just don't work out so that you can win the game, and other times everything just falls into place.

2 comments:

Tikabelle said...

I've also noticed that when I'm most stressed and wound up, something like Spider Solitaire helps me to push the stressful decisions to the back of my brain, where they emerge better-formed and more clear.

You've taken on an Atlas-like task and you're dealing admirably well. A little Solitaire is allowed, I think!!

markmc03 said...

My weakness is FreeCell.