My mother-in-law placed a domino on the table and gleefully announced, "Chickie four!" It was our third round of Chicken Foot. I was doing well, but ultimately didn't win.
As we shuffled the plastic tiles again, I started thinking about pastimes. We are blessed people indeed to have time enough to wonder about how we spend our free time. Dominoes is a game of matching the number/color of dots. Games involving cards, dice or spinning wheels have similar mechanics. These are great for teaching early math and such, but why are we adults so often involved in playing them?
Puzzles--another pastime currently in the works at my house--puzzle me. Last night I ask my wife, "Who was the first person to say, 'I'm going to take a perfectly good piece of art, cut it into tiny pieces and then put it back together again. What fun!'?" Don't get me wrong, I'll spend hours on a puzzle if you get me started. But isn't that a bit odd?
Other forms of entertainment make much more sense to me. Books, movies, video games can all transport you to other worlds where you experience adventure, friendship, loss and victory. But even here there are arguably only a handful of story lines, and the mechanics of computer games are virtual dice thrown behind the scenes.
What is it that drives these diversions? Is it the discovery of how this particular hand of cards will play out for me? Is it the joy of experiencing yet another adventure, however closely it matches one we've already been on? Is it seeing just how clever we can be at fitting pieces together? Or is it simply the joy of spending time with friends and family?
This is to say nothing of the creative pastimes of writing and recording and performing, or of gardening, sports and art; the expressive, less-passive pastimes, if you will.
So, what about you? Do you enjoy "killing time" around a board game or with a deck of cards? Do you prefer the more creative games of finding words within a jumble of letters or acting out a well-known phrase? Would you rather curl up with a fantastic book and be swept away to another time or place? What's the oddest pastime you enjoy?
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester