Thursday, August 23, 2012


They punish prisoners by isolating them, placing them in solitary confinement.

I fear that we live in a culture that isolates.  It sells us the idea that we can be more connected sitting in front of a computer screen or tapping buttons on our phone than we can be looking into our children's eyes, sitting quietly on the couch with our spouse, or taking a walk through our neighborhood.  We have so many opportunities for virtual community and interactions that we often miss out on reality and authentic interactions available to us. 

Solitaire is a game, or a set of games, that you can play alone.  The way I learned it as a child was by shuffling cards, then laying them out in a pattern, turning them over and trying to create a sequence to get through the entire deck and "win".  Now there are a variety of computer based Solitaire games that can be played with the touch of buttons or click of a mouse in front of a glowing screen. 

As the name implies, only one player is required.  It's you versus the deck, the tiles, the pegs, the clock, any number of things.  There could be some strategy involved, but ultimately it's just you and the game. 

These leisurely games are great for a brain break, mindless shuffling and playing, dealing and re-dealing, sorting and re-sorting.  I've noticed that for me, sometimes the game becomes consuming.  The challenge of beating my last high score (or more likely my husband's), "just a few more minutes," and "let me finish this level" slowly erode minutes then hours and probably even days from my life. 

I wasn't made for "alone" as comfortable and easy at it can sometimes feel.  I was made for relationship and family and community and there's nothing easy or mindless about it.  Relationships are messy, in an ugly-beautiful kind of way.  Relationships don't show me how messed up others are, but show me the glaring reality of my own faults.  Relationships can bring out the best and the worst of me and that's not always easy to reconcile.

Some would say that it's better to avoid the hurt, disappointment, and pain of relationships.  But then we miss out on the healing, restored faith, and comfort that relationships can bring.

Generations ago people often spent their entire lives in the same community.  People that lived and worked together experienced the unedited version of family, friends, and neighbors. 

Now we are physically more mobile and virtually we can span the globe in seconds.  We offer to others the most flattering pictures we can find on Facebook and voice our opinions on Twitter to those who follow and will most likely agree with us. 

We insulate ourselves and if we aren't careful we will isolate ourselves.  The games that we've played will eventually play out and we'll find that we've been playing alone and then we've won nothing.