30 April 2008

Zen Solitaire

You're out there. I know you are. It's on almost every Windows PC in the world, save those under the care of especially savvy IT departments. You play Solitaire on your computer.
The card game has a history, I'm sure - I saw family members playing it before Gates saw his sashes and panes as a tool for world domination. It's been around in every version of Windows I've used since the 3.11 days, and very little has changed in the interface. But you still play it. It's simple to play and quick to learn, and is way less boring than minesweeper. You play Freecell, maybe Spider Solitaire, too, but you always come back to the old favorite; there's a reason Microsoft still includes old school Solitaire with Windows.
I find myself some evenings working at Solitaire, sorting the cards as they are presented to me in various rule configurations (scored, unscored, draw 1, draw 3, etc.), and my mind starts to wander. First I am focusing on matching the cards and keeping track of what's going on, hand and mouse and eye flicking across desk and screen as the components drop into place.
Sometimes I win, usually I lose.
My mind at first becomes hyper-focused on the game, my eyes don't blink, I don't notice the growing cramp in my left wrist from gripping the mouse. My jaw at first tenses, and then relaxes. Cards appear, disappear, fall back in the shuffle, get integrated or segregated, ultimately sorted into the same state of being every time and I find myself beginning to ponder not the nature of cards or computers or colors, but of the Universe, of God.
Does God play solitaire? Is he interested in teaching me a lesson in whether or not black 7 comes up before I run out of options, or is black 7 forever hidden under the Queen of Diamonds who will never meet her Black King lost under the pile of sixes and twos and jacks? Are cards as in all things His Will or do I have control over the outcome if I just find the right formula for choosing which order to lay my cards? Take from the pile or always from the dealt cards? Always reveal what is hidden, or trust that by taking from the pile you will find your way?
God cleverly hides in the pile of cards as I turn over one too many, and I blink.
If only Life's undo option didn't usually involve money, blood, or shame.
I'm back to the game, and where I once thought of God I now think of nothing. Black on Red, 9 on 10, click click click click...
Cards fly to their suits, kings of a feather. Click click click one more card and victory is mine.
Click click click, my senses draw in and I hear the music of the mouse as Queens and Jacks dance with their aces; click click click where is that last four of clubs click click


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