I took today off.
That is unusual because normally my day off is Friday, and today is Thursday. I have an important denominational meeting tomorrow over in Renton; so my normal day off is all jangled up.
Kim and I planned to go do a little Christmas shopping and I was ready to go before she was so I sat at the breakfast nook, drank coffee and played solitaire. Here is the odd thing, I played solitaire with a real deck of cards. This was actual cards, lying on a table. No iPhone, no PC, no iPad, no Kindle–just man, table, and cards. As a boy growing up I played solitaire all the time and used to play many different variations. But today I played straight, regular solitaire.
I still play solitaire regularly, when I am killing time but I almost always play on my iPhone where I can plan a game anywhere in about 2 or 3 minutes. It takes a lot of time and you need space to play a real game of solitaire with real cards.
Now, here is the oddity about this morning. I was doing pretty well and I thought I might win. I play the hard way, where you draw through 3 cards at a time, and not just one; so winning is a rarity. On the iPhone my statistics say I win 11% of the time. I am certain some of you are much better than that, but I’m fairly happy with my consistent 11%.
I only had about four or five more cards left to turn over, all of which were either in the fifth column or the seventh column. Sadly, just when I thought I might win; alas, my luck ran out and I could see no possible move. All I really needed was a black six. No black six was forthcoming.
But, in my mind, a funny thing happened. I was playing with real cards, on a real table, drinking a real cup of coffee but as I was dwindling down on my options my mind began looking, on the table in front of me for the “HINT” button. The “HINT” button is the one on my iPhone game that gives me clues. These clues are usually things that are so obvious I am mad at myself for not spotting them on my own; but I like the “HINT” button.
There is a word for using the “HINT” button. It is cheating. The computer game has built-in cheats that have become such a part of my playing experience that I have lazily come to depend upon then; and even expect them when I play. I was a little frustrated at an endorphin level that I could not locate the “HINT” button to help me out of this jam, to help me win.
I worry, now, how many other areas of my life have I grown accustomed to “HINT” buttons where an artificial brain does the work I should be able, and once was able to do just fine, all by myself. Cheating leads to laziness, and laziness leads to apathy, and apathy leads to incompetence. One of my favorite Bible verses of all times came to mind:
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man. Proverbs 6:10-11