Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Suit

In his book, My Life, Bill Clinton describes how his grandfather taught him how to play solitaire and how, as Governor and later, President, he would often turn toward the card game as a sort of meditation tool - especially during times of great stress. He talked of how it would relax him, turn his focus to the game itself so that his mind could simmer in the background with whatever issue weighed heavily upon it, and then, much of the time, when he turned back to the problem at hand, he would have a solution just waiting for him to pay attention to it.

I love Bill Clinton. Say what you will about him, he was the first President for whom I voted and I believed, with as much passion as a 20-year-old college student can have, in his abilities.

But when I read that part in his book, I loved him even more - even after Monica-Gate (which, you know, didn't bother me actually...he's not the first cheater, he won't be the last).

Because I too use solitaire in much the same way.

I learned to play from my Dad who loves games of all kinds. I was playing Yahtzee by the time I was 4 - learning multiplication table even then, Gin (hello, Gin! *laughing*) came next, then eventually Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Cribbage, and Spades.

Solitaire was my favorite though...probably because I could play it alone and, as we've previously discussed, I liked being alone. By the time I was 10, I had a full arsenal of several solitaire variations and I would play them all through, with an actual deck (or two) of cards, not moving on to the next variation until I'd won each kind.

In college, I always had a deck of cards with me. If I was working on a paper or a particularly difficult assignment, occasionally I would stop working, play a few rounds of solitaire, and then pick my work back up with renewed vigor.

Later, when I bought my first home computer, the very first software I purchased was a Hoyle solitaire game. By then, I was an adult and had a slew of adult worries with which to contend and it was then that I realized how meditative solitaire had become for me. And it wasn't - much to my surprise - about the ritual of shuffling and arranging the cards in a precise layout that relaxed me. It was the game itself.

Nothing has changed about that in almost 30 years. Solitaire is still an important part of my daily ritual.

I come home from work, fix a cup of coffee, put on my comfies and sit down at the computer for 30 minutes to zone out on my game. It relaxes me, helps me process and decompress from my day, it allows me to focus on some aspect of a puzzle while, in the background, my brain starts to sort through and organize its jumble of accumulated crap.

Why am I telling you this?

I was out of sorts today. My sinuses are giving me fits and, even though I passed out early last night - around 8 - I felt as though I hadn't slept a wink when I finally rolled out of bed this morning just before 6. I had a lot of bullshit to process last night obviously and that carried over into today. I just didn't feel "right", like me. I felt as though the sunshine from Mary Jane Sunshine was hidden behind a sad little cloud. My head was thick with misty, soggy fog and I felt as though my smile, my laugh had been stolen.

So, when I got home from work this afternoon, my first thought was "Nap!".

But I didn't. Nap, that is.

Instead, I stayed with my routine...fixed my coffee, changed out of my work clothes, and sat down to play my game. And, about 20 minutes in, I felt myself physically relax as though the puppeteer who'd been holding me rigid all night and day had finally propped me gently up on my hook. I felt as though I was ready to - maybe - smile again and have that smile reach my eyes.

Because of that, I've taken care of myself tonight. Treated myself much more gently than last night. Lex is out doing one of his things so it's just me and the Vin-Meister. We heated up soup and actually ate something before opening the wine. That's progress, right?

And, while I'm not quite there yet, as in back to my normal self, I do feel Johnny Nash's I Can See Clearly Now1 getting ready to play in my head and I'm hopeful that tomorrow Sunshine will be back to the snow that's predicted.

Once again, I have hope. Once again, I love me. Once again, I have clarity.

PS Thank you to all of you who commented here and on Facebook about my last post from last night. Your comments meant an awful lot to me. I've clearly decided to keep the post alive. Having re-read it (sober) several times today, I think it's a valuable post...not just to me but anyone who has to ask themselves what the hell do I do now?

1: My theme song. Seriously, Dude. It is.

A year ago: 1 Pet Peevery Lane


Teresa said...

I, too am glad you left the post alive. It is valuable today and will be 10 years from now.

PJ said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Teresa about the post. Thank you Ms. Jane. *hugs*

The Virtual Nihilist said...

"But when I read that part in his book, I loved him even more - even after Monica-Gate (which, you know, didn't bother me actually...he's not the first cheater, he won't be the last)." So that justifies what he did?

Just Jane said...

Not at all, TVN. But I do believe the whole situation was blown (no pun intended) so completely out proportion as just another way to cock block him (again, no pun intended).