Let's see, what else am I doing during this time of isolation? Well like a lot of folks I'm back to some things I haven't done in awhile, like puzzles. And I find that I'm playing far too many games of CandyCrush on my computer. So I suppose we could talk about that.....
Not this past Christmas but the one before, Tim gave me a box of 5 separate, 500-piece puzzles. I did three of them right away. Even though they aren't especially large puzzles, they are not easy ones. The colours for each puzzle are very much the same. One puzzle, for example, is of a vibrant pink flower. It's a beautiful picture but wow, with nearly every puzzle piece looking exactly the same. The differences were so subtle that I nearly went cross-eyed trying to finish it. When I finally did it was Woohoo! You would have thought that I climbed Mt Everest by myself, or solved some fabulous historic mystery, or at least cured the common cold by my reaction.
I cannot say for sure why, but that was the last puzzle that I did for over a year. Maybe, subconsciously I was saving the last 2 puzzles for puzzle emergencies? Maybe I was just giving my eyes are break? Or I moved on to something else? But a few days ago, while looking around for something different to do, I remembered that we had two unopened puzzles. Excitement!
It was close to time to start dinner when this all popped into my head, so the first day I only managed to find the box, open the new puzzle, dump it onto the kitchen table and begin sorting the pieces before it was time to get food underway.
I like to not only separate all of the edge pieces, and turn all of the shapes right side up but also group the pieces by colour. Even though the colours in this particular puzzle are all in the same neighborhood, there are some subtle differences. Greys, beige, greenish, purpleish. Those were my colour piles initially. That was Day One.
Day two I saved working on the puzzle 'til I had exhausted any other, more productive, work. Like cleaning, or laundry, or yard work. So once again, it was late afternoon before I began. But once started, the frame of the puzzle began to come together with relative ease. And I was encouraged. This was going to be finished in no time at all.
Oh the lies we tell ourselves! In all actuality, there was one piece, one dang piece, that seemed to be missing. The frame was incomplete. Ratburgers! I sorted through the remaining pieces again searching for the last frame piece to no avail. It had to be there. It was a sealed box! I searched the floor in the immediate area. And then looked outside the immediate area. No missing piece. Well that's just craptastic! I was so aggravated!
I abandoned the puzzle and fixed dinner and refused to even look at the table in the meantime.
The next day, I didn't touch it either. What was I doing I wonder? Punishing the puzzle? Whatever my point was at the time, it worked. The next time I stepped up to the puzzle I immediately saw the missing piece in an innocent pile of similarly coloured but differently shaped pieces. Yahoo!
Once the frame was finished I was excited to get started filling it in. But my refined "puzzle-eye" needed to be sharpened. My guess is that because it had been so long since I had actually worked on a puzzle that initially I saw nothing that seemed to belong anywhere. No pieces that screamed, "Pick me Pick me, I"m the one" (they don't actually scream. I know.) And I was disappointed at how I had sort of forgotten how this works.
But much like the cinnamon buns of the day before, eventually it started to come back to me. As I began to build up a section, while the first forays were very tentative, it became easier and easier. Hurrah. Just the fact that my brain does still know how to do this, but just needed to be reminded that it knew, felt like a victory.
The puzzle isn't finished yet. I still only work on it in that short window before I need to start fixing dinner each day. But that's mostly because I want it to last. I'm pacing myself. I only have one other unopened puzzle remaining after all. And we all know that we have the entire month of April at the very least, yet to go.
Now as to CandyCrush. I was introduced to this game years ago. And I don't even remember who got me started. Initially it was just our big old lunky chunky home computer. Eventually it was also on my phone. When we got a new home computer or I got a new phone, I had to start the game all over again. And I discovered that it was a different version. Then I got a laptop and I loaded the game onto the laptop. Yup, you guessed it, a different version. And of course, once again, when I got a new laptop, I started a different iteration of the game. No matter, for all that they are called different, the game works pretty much the same way.
Sometimes I play it more often, sometimes less often. Sometimes I get hung up on a level and linger there for weeks. Other times I cruise through levels one after the other in one sitting like a CandyCrush savant! There seems to be no rhyme or reason to why I do well one day and terribly the next.
Usually I'm very blase about the entire win and level/lose a level thing. Other times I find it enormously aggravating. But during this quarantine I have learned something very illuminating. Since I have less to occupy my time so if I wanted to I suppose I could devote my entire day to playing the game. I don't of course but I am finding myself playing more often than usual, I have noticed one thing. Regardless of how often or how rarely I actually play, I honestly haven't gotten any better at it. The win/lose ratio remains the same.
In this case, practice absolutely is NOT making perfect. Which flies in the face of everything we are taught.
I don't know about you but the "practice=perfect" adage was hammered into my punkin' head my entire life. And most of the time, it was true. Playing a musical instrument? Absolutely true. Learning to cook? Spot on advice. Anything I've ever had to learn to work? Totally true. But in two cases, not true.
No matter how many years I took math, regardless of how hard I tried, how much I studied, how much extra help I got, I still totally suck at it. Oh I am fine with basic math. Add, subtract, multiply and divide. Okeydokey. I got that. No problems. But as soon as you start venturing out into anything beyond the most basic algebra I am lost. I mean, black cat in a dark room at night with a blindfold on, lost.
And somehow, it also applies to ANY computer type game. Anytime I win a game it was sheer luck. It involved no skill at all.
At one time we had some sort of gaming system at home. And there were two games I particularly liked. One Tim bought me and the other was a gift from middle son and his wife. Both of these games were both tremendously entertaining and horribly frustrating because no matter how much I tried, how many times I played I would get to a certain level and then that was it. The game might just as well have ended there because I couldn't move forward. Someone would have to do that level for me so that I could progress. Until I reached another impossible level and....repeat. Apparently there is something vaguely "mathy" about it all and my brain rejects math.
I honestly think that is what happens. If it isn't the sort of math that is related to cooking or music or totting up a bill, my brain simply refuses to accept it's existence. I see the truth of it all now, I accept it and I will move on.
I will eventually finish this puzzle and move on the that last one. And I will keep playing CandyCrush and win and lose in a random pattern. But it no longer bothers me. Sometimes I will win. Sometimes I will lose. And much like Rhett Butler, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn"
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.