September 15, 2010

On Justifying Hours of Free Cell Solitaire

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I’m on my second hour of Free Cell solitaire.  Ok, my third, maybe.  I really don’t keep track.  But here’s the thing: there are Life Lessons in Free Cell solitaire.  I’m not saying I play it to find them;  but I do think about brain wiring when I play, especially since I figured out that you can backtrack by hitting Control Z and take another path.

So there’s that Life Lesson: we can always try things differently even if we can’t delete life choices by backtracking.  Wouldn’t that be something?  Actually I think there are belief systems that say this is possible and I know people who think they have deleted their choices by pretending that they never did the things they did, and expect me to play along.  I suppose we all function that way to a degree.  Some modalities call it denial.  (Reference the first three sentences of this post.)

It may be more fruitful to recognize mistakes and disappointments; regret them and cry with vexation; then work our way down to the bottom of the box and scoop out the hope.  Did you ever think about why hope is at the bottom of Pandora’s Box?  All the difficult things in life fly right out in your face, there’s no need to mine for them.   Hope just lays there at the bottom.  It doesn’t pressure you.  It’s there waiting once you get quiet enough to allow it in.

In Free Cell Solitaire, I get intrigued by the way the most counter-intuitive routes seem to be what win the game.  All the aces and most of the two’s are up one column but the way through this game is to dismantle the column over to the side which is packed with a bunch of middle cards.

So many things fall into place when we stop insisting things have to work a certain way.  When we imagine we know how it’s supposed to be.  Does anyone remember the days before there were self-help books?  However did we manage before there were human beings just like ourselves, grubbing along just like we were, who decided they were experts?  One of Adam Phillip’s titles is Terrors and Experts. The title is almost all you need.  Where there are “experts,” there is terror that you might be living your own life wrong;  and that out there is someone who can give you the correct answers.

You are reading the writing of someone who filled in all the blanks and thought through all the questions of Finding a Job You Can Love, closed the book, decided to be a private music teacher and never looked back in 28 years except for the occasional fantasy of working in a used book store with no children’s section and no sound system. Aside from the anomaly of that one book, I have found that self-help books miss the point.

As did William F Buckley in a little quibble with me that made my Republican father proud.   Buckley had some kind of eye-hand visual difficulty that made reading music challenging so he devised a little system of colors, codes and symbols that helped him when he played the piano.  I read about it in an issue of Sheet Music magazine and thought it clever.  He ended his article by asking music teachers if they thought his was a viable method that we might want to use in teaching.

I responded by saying no.  If his method were to be published, it would languish amongst all the other methods that are out there.   The important thing, I wrote, was his ingenuity in custom designing a method for his own particular learning patterns.  I suggested that its value was its congruency with his own mind although I regret to say I actually used the phrase “in touch with yourself.”  The notion of students creating their own peculiar methods that followed their own idiosyncratic ways of conceptualizing music was what needed to be promoted.  Now that would be different.

So Buckley sent me a private note saying that he wished to quibble with me over my comment about being in touch with himself.  Rather than understand his own mind better, he said his method helped him “know the mind of Bach.”  Hmmm.  If you say so.

So in conclusion, the Queens and Kings are never going to line up logically, this little essay does not justify all the Free Cell Solitaire I play, and a while back, I saw Buckley’s piano method book languishing on a shelf at Capitol Music.

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