Like many people, I suppose, I like to play an idle game of Solitaire on the computer, particularly as a way to while away time when I’m procrastinating. I silently promise myself that I’m going to play just one game, then just play until I win a game, which can take an inordinate amount of time, if I allow it.
On my netbook I have Windows 7, which has a nice newly-formatted deluxe-looking version of Solitaire. I’ve started allowing the game to keep score and count my winning percentage, which is, more often than not, discouraging; I think it’s 16% at last count. So lately, when coming to what seems a dead end in the game, I’ve been pressing “H” to give me a hint, but the hint usually takes me back to the stack of cards to be turned over, which can be frustrating when the “hint” is not readily apparent.
But the hint doesn’t always mean the card I think I need is available. It sometimes means if I move a card, or even two, off the row of aces and back into the working rows, then a card in the stack will be the right one. Sometimes this helps me win a game, sometimes not. But I get further along in the game by thinking critically about this “hint” than I would have otherwise.
It occurred to me that this hint system contains a good life lesson. When what we think we need in life isn’t readily apparent, and a situation seems hopeless, we’re usually all too ready to just give up and scrap the whole idea or situation. But if we stop and think and look carefully at possible solutions, even ones we may not have considered in the past, we can often find a way around or through the difficulty. We may not achieve the desired outcome, but we’ll get further along toward the desired goal than we would have otherwise. Quitting should be the last option, when all others have been exhausted. At that point we cut our losses and move on; it’s never too late to start over and over again in life.
This isn’t earthshakingly insightful, of course. But it bears remembering, because I know my tendency when the going gets difficult is to give up before I’ve given myself a chance to work out a satisfactory solution or chart a new course toward my desired goal. When I’ve gone against this natural tendency and taken the lesson to heart and seen a situation through, the results have often been more satisfactory than I thought possible.
Philosophy lessons today from a game of Solitaire…