Posts Tagged ‘solitaire’

Free Cell Fever

June 7, 2013

Tuesday June 4th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   As ridiculous as it sounds, I think there’s something in the human animal that enjoys struggle. Somewhere inside, we crave it. What’s more satisfying than overcoming a humongous challenge and beating the odds to gain a victory? Nothing I can imagine. We love it when it gets difficult.

   I’m a big fan of the computer game Free Cell. It’s a form of solitaire, and played with a deck of cards. The game involves moving all the cards around in descending order and alternating colors, and it can be highly addictive. I love it because it keeps the brain busy, and can be challenging.

   There are literally hundreds of thousands of different combinations, and allegedly all but one is solvable. Some games are far too easy, most present at least a slight degree of difficulty but then there are those few that drive me up the wall and across the ceiling – and they’re the ones I love.

   They keep me baffled for a while, and I might go back and play the same game fifty times over before I eventually figure it out – but I usually do. I go in spurts, but when I get on a bender I am known to drop everything else I’m doing and put all my effort into solving that particular game.     

   It’s completely frustrating for a while – sometimes a long while – but then when I do solve that particular game there’s an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment like little else I’ve ever felt. I’ve run across other Free Cell players, and most of them know exactly what I’m talking about.  

   The harder the effort that’s required, the more satisfying the feeling of victory is when it finally happens. Only the biggest challenges have appeal. The others aren’t even close. Putting forth an epic effort is never easy, and I guess that’s why it feels so good to win. It’s the ultimate victory.

   More and more people are having to put forth that kind of epic effort in life just to stay alive in this financial climate, and they’re feeling the utter frustration of a difficult Free Cell game times ten. It’s no cakewalk out there, and tensions are rising. Try waiting five seconds at a green light.

   My grandparents used to talk about how The Depression was good in that it helped to get all of their generation on the same page, and it kept them humble. They pulled together  and it gave life a sense of purpose. The generation of today seems defeated – at least those I talk to. Challenging computer games are one thing, but gas prices rising by the day are squeezing us all like Charmin. 

   I’ve struggled my whole life, so I’m used to it by now. It’s not necessarily pleasant, but I have a thick callous built up over decades so it doesn’t scare me when my world blows up. I’ve had it happen so many times now, it doesn’t even move the needle anymore. Others aren’t that way.

   I’m feeling tensions build on every level, and it scares me. Jobs are nowhere to be had, and the majority of everybody I know is completely tapped out. I am too, but I don’t have a house full of hungry kids to feed and a giant mortgage to pay on that house I couldn’t sell even if I wanted to.   

   With a Free Cell game, if it gets too tough I can take a break for a while or do something else. It’s not that way in life. When the tornado hits, there’s no choice but to hang in there and slug it out. There’s no pause button, and it can get really stressful. We’re all stuck in a pressure cooker.

   I wish I knew what the solution is, but I don’t. Where is that ultimate victory feeling in life like I feel in Free Cell going to come from? I’ve got all I can do to pay my bills every month, and so do millions of others. I rarely have time to play Free Cell at all. I’m too busy trying to survive.