Playing Solitaire

The cards float down onto the screen from a magical heaven, and there they are, all laid out before you in orderly disarray, just waiting for you to sort deftly and arrange with a crisp CLICK from your mouse. You start to work, matching and categorizing, strategizing and prioritizing like an executive assistant. Your attention to detail is keen. Your task is accomplished in a matter of minutes. You are a Free Cell goddess! One additional click, and you can begin the process anew, amassing an empire of ‘wins’ and improving your statistics.

Inevitably, your mind starts to wander. “I’m supposed to be finding a job. I’m supposed to be updating my resume. I’m supposed to be generating income.” CLICK. CLICK. Drag….CLICK. Minutes tick by. You are mesmerized by a brilliant shower of red and black and white, diamonds in spades. Fireworks follow. Then you ask yourself, “Have I accomplished anything?”


I am becoming aware of myself. Of my work ethic, my motivation, my skill set. I find routine incredibly easy. I find detail work effortless. And I find them both supremely boring, but somehow, not boring enough to get me angry in the moment. I become perturbed after the fact.

I want to be productive. I want to be useful, informative, inspirational. I want to be honest, authentic, and open. I want good and meaningful engagement with the world. And I keep sucking away my life at things like computer games.

Why am I stuck? Why don’t I begin something BIG?

I am afraid of failure. I shame myself constantly by mental audiotape. “You’re not qualified. You don’t have the expertise. You don’t have the style they want. You won’t follow through. It’ll be too difficult. It won’t happen.” Buzz words from the samples you just read ring in your ears.

“Go-getter. Self-starter. Highly motivated (fill in the blank) SEEKS…”

Is everyone more hard-working than I am? Or just more eager to appear so? Am I highly motivated to help Consolidated So-And-So get ahead? No, I’m not. I’m not philosophically supportive of this capitalistic system at all. I would like to earn an honest wage, live simply (at least by American standards) and physically, and keep contributing to something important until the day I die. Pay me $15,000/year to write passionately about the environment, to teach and inspire a visitor, to file and proofread and make coffee and encouraging remarks, and I will die happy. Each day would be an adventure, and I might leave for serial adventures in other employs, but I think that would be a fine life for me.

Right now, I’m in this dialogue. Free/Cell. Am I free? A jack-of-no-trades? How do I stop playing the game and start living the life?

7 thoughts on “Playing Solitaire

  1. Priscilla, what a profound and provoking meditation. Our world is so constructed that good and talented people like you find themselves with these questions and facing these quandaries. “Go-getter! Self-started! Highly motivated!” = Trite formulac meaningless words on one boring resume after another as we seek to make a living as good little soldiers in the service of the uncontionably rich when all we yearn to do is make a life that feeds our souls as well as our bodies and enriches the lives of others in ways that can’t be assessed by the size of a bank account. Where’s the balance we all seek? Perhaps some balance will be found, some good might come, out of the growing tragedy of income inequity. Perhaps the current economic distruption will foster new ways to work and new ways to view work. We can only hope while we soldier on.

    • Jamie, your comment is a valuable one…just to know that someone else understands my questions, is looking for a different way, and has a vision for what that looks like is a great motivator.


  2. Scilla you and I are so alike in so many ways.. but then you know that don’t you… my computer procrastination drug of choice is a silly game on facebook called Candy Crush saga. I can waste a lot of time playing it but I try not to be too hard on myself.. because sometimes I know my brain just needs something fairly mindless to give it a rest..
    Be kinder to yourself..sending virtual hugs x

    • Thanks, Helen, for your kindness. Being self-employed is a discipline that probably has to be a bit more…disciplined. I do know when vegging is actually good for the thought process, and I’m learning to recognize when I go too far. Having Steve back at home actually helps me to be more productive!


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