The events of 2016 and ensuing chaos that seems to be 2017 have destroyed every illusion of control I thought I had over my life. So no, I do not think I’m placing too much weight on the value of my FreeCell win percentage, thank you very much.
Did you know every game of FreeCell is winnable? You can’t say that about traditional solitaire. Even Minesweeper requires a certain degree of luck in the opening moves. Do you know what else isn’t winnable? Life.
FreeCell is a game of creating order from chaos. The player is presented with a jumble of cards in the beginning and limited means by which to rearrange them. Chiefly you have four open slots, or “cells,” in which you can place cards you’re not ready to use yet. If I had a cell like that in my real life I would put 2016 in it and never open the cell again. No one was ready for that. How could we be?
My favorite feature of FreeCell is the undo button. I know some purists would probably criticize me for using it, but I will simply refer them back to my previous statement about the utter devastation wrought upon my beliefs in man by the last 14 months. I need that undo button. Let me have it. Every move in the game is a chance to pause and reflect, to look at what was and what will be. If an unforeseen consequence arises, I can just click undo. Sometimes I press undo until I find myself back at the beginning of the game. If I could do that in life, Rebecca would still be speaking to me. I’d still have my job. I might not sigh every time I open Facebook. I rage against an uncaring and random universe every time I click undo.
I started playing FreeCell back in college, but it was fairly casual, just a diversion. Things got serious last year when I found out about David Bowie. I fired up a game and before I knew it three hours had passed. In that way FreeCell can be a sort of time machine, only moving forward, stopping at my death. At this point I may be OK with that.
On November 9th I played for 23 hours.
I made a T-shirt with a big ace of spades on it, but instead of the spade symbol it says “100%.” I got it for myself on my birthday last year. I’ve worn it every day since. I keep waiting for someone to ask me about it, but no one has.
Order from chaos. I look at the 100% win rate on my profile and I think about how much order I’ve brought into the universe with the click of a mouse. I look at the mounting disorder around me, on my desk, in my apartment, in the world, and I realize I’ve done a good thing. No one may ever know about it, but the best sort of hero is one who stays in the shadows.