Doing things differently since 1984

Lessons Learned from FreeCell

I am probably dating myself by writing this (and sealing my fate as Totally Lame), but can you remember back to the time before Minecraft, Angry Birds, and Bejeweled?  When online games were hard to come by, and an “app” was something you mailed off to a college?  Well, back in those days we had a limited choice in entertainment for those in-between times, or those “just 5 more minutes” that could turn into hours of procrastinating whatever else we were supposed to be doing.  So what was one to do?  The answer: WinGames!


For those of you who don’t have cause to remember, these little games came by default with every version of Windows — Solitaire, Minesweeper, and FreeCell (can you guess which is my favorite?).  Granted, they still come with every version of Windows, along with several others, but that no longer matters, because I got hooked a long time ago.  Some might accuse me of wasting countless hours of my youth clicking at meaningless pictures, but I don’t agree.  That’s right — I think I’ve come up with the perfect excuse learned some important life lessons from those seemingly silly, simple little games.   Perhaps you’ve learned these lessons elsewhere… or maybe you haven’t learned them yet!

1. Just because something looks like an impossible mess, doesn’t make it impossible.

puzzle piecesIf you’ve ever dared try a game of FreeCell, you’ll know where I got this one from.  The first thing you’re met with is a jumbled mess of cards that you’re expected to put in order, with only a tiny bit of workspace.  OK, so life isn’t a bunch of cards, but do you know what it is?  A jumbled mess.  As if we didn’t come with enough of our own personal issues… we make regular contact with other people with their whole own set of personal issues.  And through it all, we’ve still got to get jobs, keep promises, pay bills, keep ourselves healthy, keep ourselves sane….  But, just like you have to do in a simple little card game, we’ve all got to take a deep breath and take it one step at a time.  Yeah, you can do this.

2. You win by setting smart goals.

All right, if you were hoping for some top-secret FreeCell advice, here it is!: You have to set smart, realistic, useful goals (i.e. gotta get to that Ace!), and find the best way to get there.  That doesn’t mean pick out what you want, then plow straight toward it regardless of who and what you’re sacrificing — that’d make you a jerk with nothing left for the next goal.  But running around everywhere, trying to fix everything all at once — that gets you frustrated and gets you nowhere.   Everything works out better if you find your Ace, that next little goal you know you need in your life, and figure out what needs to be gently altered to make a path to it.

3. Give yourself time in the day to think and reflect.

think about stuffMaybe this one’s just me, but I have noticed that it is absolutely necessary for my general mental health to have some time to let my mind digest life a little bit – what happened today, what’s happening tomorrow, how I can do things better, why I’m doing things at all, where it’s all leading me… you get the idea.  Loosen the reins of constant-action and let your mind think about stuff.  For me, I like to play FreeCell while I’m thinking about stuff.  Other people might prefer bubble baths, or private chats with a friend, or walks/jogs outside, or whatever else.  The point is, reflect.  Take 10 minutes and think about your life, or you’ll find that people and things just “happen” to you all the time.

4. It’s OK to fail sometimes.

All right, I’ll admit it, I don’t like this lesson.  I’m good with the smart goal-setting, the plan of action, the self-determination to keep at it…. But sometimes, despite all of my planning and effort, things still don’t work out.  At these times, it can be better to just let it go and allow the black mark on my win/lose ratio, rather than get myself all wound up about something that doesn’t really matter.  OK, I know there are things in life where the prospect of failure at something really, really matters… but not as many as we make ourselves think there are.

5. Revel in your little victories.

Not that I’m bragging or anything…. but I’ve got like a 98% win statistic on FreeCell.   I know – you don’t care, do you?  See, that’s OK.  We all have our little victories that no one else cares about, or no one else is around to witness, but they mean something to us.  So by all means, be proud of your accomplishments, no matter how small, even if no one else “gets it”!  Just, you know, don’t hesitate to shut up about it around other people, before they stop liking you start thinking you’re totally lame.

small victories crayons

10 comments on “Lessons Learned from FreeCell

  1. Write in the Wrong Way
    April 29, 2013

    I ❤ Solitaire 🙂 I used to play it with REAL cards too! FreeCell was always slightly more thinking than I wanted to do to play a game haha

    • abtwixt
      April 29, 2013

      Haha, it’s cool, Solitaire’s good too 😉 Really, I’m impressed that you moved it off-screen… too much work for me! Lol

      • Write in the Wrong Way
        April 29, 2013

        Welll…. I had a lot more time on my hands when I didn’t have a little plastic mind-sucking device to stare at 24/7 😉

  2. aFrankAngle
    April 30, 2013

    Interesting use of a throwback game to relate to life. I know you are a youngin’, after all, I go back to Pong!

    It’s been so long since I’ve played free cell, I couldn’t recall … so I brought it up, played one game, and won. 🙂

    • abtwixt
      April 30, 2013

      I’ve kept the identity of youngin’ for so long, it throws me off to think that something like Windows 95 was actually nearly 20 years ago!! But anyway, very well done on the FreeCell win! Your skill must exceed mine, as it took me a while to get to the point where I could just open a game and win it 😉

      • aFrankAngle
        April 30, 2013

        I didn’t play much … so I think I was lucky.

  3. Randel
    May 1, 2013

    I too remember Pong. It was so cool to hook up a box to the tv and play it. Then I became an Asteroids, Galaga, and Missile Command nut in the early 1980s. In the early 90s I loved my little jetfighter 2.0 for DOS simulator. Instead of going after the enemy, I played the game differently blowing up the oil wells because for some reason I think many wars are due to energy policies out of balance. Now all the games are way too complicated which brings me back to liking the simple ones you point out. Next time I play and win, I will count it as one of life’s small victories.

    By the way, I like your use of pictures and the way you can access the link of the creator. Yours is one of the most honest WordPress sites.

    • abtwixt
      May 2, 2013

      Thanks for the comment, and your list is a great little walk through the early gaming era. My first memories are with an Atari, so I suppose that falls slightly after where you started. For a while I really enjoyed the complicated games, until I simply ran out of time in my life to build empires and go on mystical quests in one sitting… and I hate leaving things half-done. So now I thoroughly enjoy having the option to quit every 5 minutes!

      I’m glad you like the way I’ve set up my images. It’s partly to be honorable, and partly to cover my own backside — just in case 😉

  4. video slots
    January 13, 2015

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    • abtwixt
      January 13, 2015

      You look like spam – sorry! If you have a legitimate blog somewhere, please respond with a link.

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