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Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

Keeping my mind sharp

Thursday, October 9, 2008

All of the health magazines I read while sitting in doctor's offices stress that when you are getting to be middle age plus you should exercise your mind as well as your body. I have had several opportunities lately to read these articles because of a non-threatening, but persistent problem my husband has finally overcome. It doesn't matter what office we sit in, the articles read the same. Keep your mind active. Challenge your mental abilities. Learn new things or sharpen your skills in what you are doing already.

So, I think to myself (that doesn't take a huge amount of mental abilities, but it's a start), "OK. instead of just playing Free Cell on my computer while I am waiting for a long download to finish, I will start keeping statistics and strive to have my average higher than 75 percent all of the time". Thankfully, the computer will figure the percentage for me. I don't want to have to get too deep in mathematics in this attempt.

I hit the button for the statistics that are already saved in the memory bank. It was nowhere near the 75 percent goal I had set. But I reasoned that that doesn't count the number of times I turn off a game midway through to keep someone from seeing that I am "just" playing a game. And there are the times when someone else needs to use the computer and I graciously surrender a game to free up the machine. I haven't really actually lost that many games. I am really pretty good at Free Cell.

No matter what the cause, I want to start with a clean slate, so I delete the present scores and start a new game. As soon as it comes on the screen I know I am in trouble. All the face cards are on the bottom of the rows and the aces are at the top. I lost that game. But now I need to win at least two before I leave my computer to keep my average up. Four games later my average is less than 50 percent.

I remember that the articles also mention not to add undue stress to your life as you age. So here I am sweating out a silly game to reach a ridiculous self-imposed goal.

I go back to the statistics and delete the scores and resolve to just play for fun and relaxation. My first trial had all four aces on the bottom of the rows. I aced that game in nothing flat. So of course I went to a second game with equally good results. I get the message now. When I am relaxed I do better. But does the computer know that I am relaxed when it gives me such wonderful set-ups?

I think there must be a mastermind behind the games that says when to deal a hard arrangement and when to go easy. Anyway I spent a pleasurable half hour winning every game of free cell.

"Maybe it would be a good time to go back to my original goal since my record is going so well already." With new resolve I cleared the statistic deck and started again on my quest to reach the 75 percent.

You probably guessed that I lost the first three games before it was time to go get supper. The family wondered why I was so grouchy and I even slightly burned the pork chops. (That doesn't matter, many restaurants now feature blackened meat entrees).

I have decided that making my mind sharp has the side effect of making my tongue sharp. Maybe it's not really worth the struggle.

I can always turn to solitaire. No one expects to win that.

Carolyn Gray Thornton
Middle Age Plus