Sudoku: The Slippery SlopeNovember 10, 2009
Choosing how to spend your time. A cautionary tale.
"You Suck. I hate you. I really, really hate you."
An actual opening of a recent conversation with my good friend Linda, who, either because she knows from past experience that even when I'm annoyed with her I can't hate her, and because she knows she doesn't suck, and perhaps because my stern tone, with a hint of repressed giggle gave it away, was not at all anxious, and in fact was laughing.
This is a cautionary tale. Think about it.
About a month ago my friend Linda taught me how to play Sudoku while we waited for our dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant (Ruam Mit in St. Paul; yes they had curry puffs).
I was having trouble focusing at the dinner table and it didn't seem all that fun or interesting at the time. But at last I knew what it was "everyone" else was trying to accomplish when working one of these puzzles, and she did go on and on about how it would help retain brain power—so maybe that means she thought I was losing my brain power? At any rate, I picked up a book of easy puzzles by Will Shortz (because I hear him on NPR, love his voice, and trust him). It was a good choice and I started doing a couple puzzles a day. (Initially it would take me about 20 minutes and I had to overcome my propensity for flipping things.) Then I had a sleepless bit and did more puzzles. After about 10 days I realized something shocking: I hadn't worked in my journal in 4 days!
That's where the cautionary tale comes in. I realized that I was using all those little bits of time I always talk about "finding" in your day, to do Sudoku. I panicked and called Linda to let her know she sucked.
Of course we had a good laugh, and back in touch with the reality of how I want to spend my time, I'm only doing a Sudoku puzzle every few days if that. And it is limited to an early morning or late night adventure only.
Thing is, I believe that it does use your brain in interesting ways. But I also believe that the way I use my journal, ponder things, work things out, rethink things, experiment, challenge myself, challenge my comfortable working methods with new methods—I think all that uses my brain in interesting ways too. Both take time. I've got to give the majority of those found moments to my journal, because it's a slippery slope. I choose my journal.
(Oh, OK, since my copier broke recently and I'm still deciding on replacements I'm using Dick's printer-copier-scanner. It's very slow—so when I copy handouts for my classes I do sudoku. It's a choice.)