(Or: One Card at a Time)
By: Patrick M. Kennedy
Solitaire is usually defined as single-player games of concentration and skill using a laid out deck of cards. In other cases and other places there are games that can be played using tiles, pegs or stones rather than cards. Of course, there are dozens of solitaire games that can be played while mouseing around while facing your computer screen. But being a senior citizen can bring another meaning to the word. That is, being alone, not being in the company of others: A solitary existence, one card at a time.
Your mind wanders through another world of fantasy or wishful thinking as you sit there. There are no distractions: No friends, no dog, no cat, the TV cable has been disconnected; the daily newspaper has been cut off, and the radio plays music from the times of yore; at least it seems that way, that everything is cut off. Memories are blurring the present and making everything seem all right and normal. This is called personal solitaire, or, games, any of a number of visions, played by one person. These are mind games trying to replicate reality.
Or one way out is you can pretend that there is someone else there. You try to please that person with everything you do. You even talk to him/her, although you don’t expect an answer; you just want to imagine you are not really alone, that there is an important person in your life who cares. But really, you are talking to yourself.
Being alone isn’t a unique situation or quality only bestowed on seniors. There others who live their lives that way: Think about the lone wolf, the Lone Ranger or a lone scream in the night. OK, they are only fantasies and art, but remember, “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality,” sang John Lennon
. This is food for thought for getting out of the doldrums. Of course, on the other side of the spectrum, “It is better to be alone than in bad company”, said George Washington. Hmmm, there are so few choices for such a difficult problem: Dream alone, or dream with others.
But if you think about it as a game of solitaire with your life, you play all the cards and make all the decisions without any help from friends. So what are the decisions you must make in this situation. Well, the opposite of solitaire is company, people, or better yet, friends. “No road is long with good company”, so goes a Turkish Proverb. But tread lightly, because … as Joe E. Lewis advises: “Show me a friend in need and I’ll show you a pest.” Go slow and don’t be a nuisance to those around you.
Here’s where you take off your slippers, slide out of your lounge chair or rocker, put on the walking shoes, and go down to the local coffee shop or grill and bar, and be with people. You’ll find it an amazing fact, people talk back, and many of them are looking for soundboards just like you. “How are you, today?” And then it starts, it is called conversation; not talking to yourself but to another human … or even another senior citizen looking for company.