I’ve been playing a lot of solitaire lately. It’s an easy, mindless way to kill time now that I don’t have FB to scroll through. I have a free app on my phone and I play whenever I have a free moment.

My solitaire app has a couple useful features, like I can undo a move (or many moves) or replay an entire game at the “push” of a button. So if there are two black sixes I could move onto a red seven, I can move one, see what’s under it, then undo the move and choose the other one to see what’s under it, using the information from both moves to ultimately decide which six to play. And if I can’t complete the game, I can go back and replay it, changing any move, or series of moves, to see if I can actually win.

A lot of times you can tell which card to move based on what is underneath, but sometimes you can’t. And sometimes one move seems obvious, but then later if you can’t win and you replay, you learn that the other move actually allows you to win the game, despite the unimpressive returns in the moment.

And of course sometimes, no matter how many times you replay the game, you end up stuck, unable to win.

I’ve been thinking a lot about solitaire lately, and how it doesn’t matter how “good” you are at the game, sometimes the cards have been dealt in such a way as to ensure your eventual failure. And sometimes every card you move reveals another card you need and the game is over in two minutes and 121 moves.

Life is a lot like that. Some people are dealt a really shitty hand and all they can do is get as far as possible and then just live out the rest of their life, cycling through their options, even though they know they can’t play any of the cards. And some people are dealt a fantastic hand, and they end up successful without even trying.

Of course, in real life you can’t press “undo,” and most of the time you don’t get to see what was under the other card. When you get stuck, you can’t replay the game, making the other possible choices. You can never know if moving the other card would have allowed you to win the game.

It’s just something I’ve been thinking about, as I move ever farther into the game of my own life. I wonder sometimes if there are moves I’m missing, cards I’m forgetting to play. In the end will I look back and feel like I’ve completed the game? Or will I wish I could replay my hand in the hopes of ending up with a different outcome?

I suppose only time will tell. Maybe I shouldn’t spend so much of it playing solitaire.


  1. This is an interesting analogy. This idea you get one hand to play. I can see that, but I also know that they life I’m living now is very different from the life I was living 2, 5 and even 10 yrs ago.

    Based on this, instead of one hand, what if instead you can get more than one hand. The problem being that you have to know when to quit the hand you’re playing and transition to the next hand. Oh, and there’s a transition hand to be playing to get to that next hand (think school, training, therapy, etc).

    Still, I do agree with you about some being very lucky with their hands while others not being lucky. There are also those who have people under the table swapping out their shitty cards and others who really are good at strategic moves. But a good starting deck does make a world of difference.

    1. I don’t know if you get to play a whole new hand in your life. That suggests an ability to start over that is so extreme as to be almost impossible. Just who we are (our gender, race, socio-economic background, sexual orientation) has such a profound impact on who we are (the game we’ve been dealt), that I don’t think just starting over in one’s career is the same as getting a whole new hand, at least not in how I’m thinking of it. But I could see it that way, like maybe every big decision you make is a hand to play, and you can go back and wonder if you’d played it differently if a venture would have ended up differently had you made other choices. I like that analogy too, as it fits with the idea that a game of solitaire is generally quick, and you can play a lot of games in your life… Interesting.

      1. I agree, it’s very rare for someone to play an entirely different hand as we tend to build on the ones we’ve been given. Like different levels. I have seen people play entirely different hands and changing the course of their life. But usually because of an external benefactor who helped wipe the slate clean.

  2. Interesting analogy, and I like Cristy’s point about knowing when to fold’ em and moving to the next hand…because you CAN change to course of your life to some extent but you have to actively choose to do so and go through the hard work & uncertainty.

    1. I think it’s true that you can change some aspect of the course of your life, but you’re right that it takes immense effort and being okay with uncertainty. I think I would be okay expending the effort and riding out the uncertainty if I felt a specific calling, but I don’t, so I just keep playing my game. And the cards I’ve been dealt are pretty fucking good, so I can’t complain. 😉

  3. I really like that, currently in Manila, Phillippines and wonder everyday about the privilege I was born into (and guilt about mistakes, things I’ve done) and how people are born into abject poverty with very very little opportunity.
    Your words struck a chord.

    1. I think A LOT about my own (IMMENSE) privilege and wonder how I can be honoring it in the best way possible. Why was I dealt such an amazing hand? Why were so many others dealt an impossible hand? I don’t know the answers.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *