Solitaire

It’s a lonely man’s game. At least that’s what they say.

You start indifferent to it all. The fact that it’s a game never really occurs to you. You plod along, putting cards where they need to be, and you find success, effortlessly.

You enjoy the game for what it is. Nothing more, nothing less. You can win any time, quit any time. It is what it is.

You see others around you doing better than you. Or worse. But you’re all in this together, right? Just playing a game.

But you find more success. More confidence. And now you know that not only is it a game, but it’s a game that you’re playing pretty damn well.

The cards you need keep on coming. You’re on a roll. And—

A brick wall.

For the first time, you’re legitimately filled with doubt. Step back. Plan. Act more cautiously now. Maybe this game isn’t as easy as I had thought? You sense there’s a lesson to be learned here.

Nope, there’s not. Because you’re a winner. That little pickle you got yourself in to was a stupid mistake. You won’t let it happen again. Right? Your confidence builds again, much like when you started the game. You work a little bit, and now you’re close to winning again.

Funny, the goal: to win. You sit in a chair and you’re dealt cards and you play them. You’re alone the whole time, more or less, save for a few people that come up every now and then to watch you play. Some are vastly interested, most don’t care at all, but ultimately, none of them are permanent spectators. You can’t even see the dealer. Just a blank screen staring back at you. No answers, no matter how much you ask. You wonder if anyone knows who it is that’s dealing the cards—the one really behind the game.

You pass some players by. Those slackers need to get their act together. Get in the game.

You envy those better than you. We’re in this together, right? Help a guy out. Just playing the game.

When the lucky ones win, it’s not as glamorous as they expect. A handshake, a flash, a blinking sign that says

CONGRATULATIONS!!

You’re so caught up with winning that you forget to enjoy the game. And after a little pause, a little celebration with every minor victory, you begin playing again.

You hit another brick wall, and this time, you’re not so sure you’ll get through. And you were so close to winning! What was that lesson I thought I was learning that one time I was in this situation? Maybe I should have listened…

You’re just missing that One Piece needed to win. To be Perfect. To be among those that have Won the Game. Alas, that One Piece is just beyond reach, buried beyond a card you already have.

You contemplate quitting.

Some people do. You know the type. The X is clicked, the window closes. Blank screen.

No. You’re a Winner, not a Quitter. You’ll keep going. Figure this one out.

You buckle down and work for the first time since you’ve started playing. You sweat and struggle and even dare to think! and suddenly, you’re almost there. You look around to see if anyone has noticed your rapid ascent—but no, they’re too wrapped up in their games anyway.

You’ve almost won. You can taste it. The fireworks, the banner. You—

Wait.

One wrong move.

Funny thing about this game. You have to do everything in the exact right order, or it’s all for naught; even if you had all the right cards the whole time, the factor of luck is ever-present. 

It’s not just the cards you have, but the way you play them, the order you put them down. Sometimes a card out of place yields unexpected positive results. But not usually. That’s reserved for the lucky ones.

And you’re not lucky.

It hits you. You’re too stupid to even see what you knew when you started playing. What you need is right in front of you, all around you, inside you. It’s just a game, and you can beat it any time you want. But the lesson is learned too late.

The window closes. Blank screen.