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  • Andrew Casteel

I Was Feeling Smug


I'm a big game geek. I have the closet from the Royal Tenenbaums with floor to ceiling games. Actually, I've outgrown that closet and now have the start of two other gaming closets. My love of games stems from my belief in Kurt Vonneguts theory: “I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.”


Now I don't see that as an invitation to nihilistic glee. It's just an acceptance that in the timeline of the universe, we are but a blip, individually and as a species. I see it as an invitation to revel in our own freedom. Conquer the world and you still only last about a century so what's the point if you can't take it with you. Just make each moment a little nicer for you and the ones you love. To quote Kurt again, “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.”


In Candyland, there are exactly two things that can make you happy, and neither of them is winning. Winning Candyland isn't a moment of jubilation, but of relief, relief that it is finally over as it is possible for Candyland to last forever. Seriously, there's a perfectly imperfect shuffle of the cards which guarantees you a place in Sisyphian Torpor, stuck between candy hearts and the last blue trap spot before the gingerbread house. It's like a bad episode of twilight zone, surrounded by candy you can't eat, watching all your progress get taken away by a single bad pull of a candy cane or a candy heart.


That is why I hope this was game of Candyland is my last. Not because I'm not willing to play it again but because there is no sweeter moment to be had from the game. Sure, I'll play it again if my son wants to, but I'll suggest a series of other games first. We hit both of the most joyous moments of Candyland back to back. I was able to take the Rainbow Road, which feels more like a win then getting to the gingerbread house. It's the best result you can get without pulling a picture card. Then, while I was victory dancing, Francis pulled Ice Cream Floats, the furthest picture card of them all, putting him as close to the finish as one turn could take him. We both exclaimed in amazement at the comeuppance he just handed me. We should have stopped there and sealed the board and our cards in plastic resin to display forever in our game room as a testament to the peak of Candyland joy.


It serves as a reminder to invest yourself in the process of what you do and not the outcome. Achieving a goal rarely feels as good as that moment in between when your engine is humming perfectly as you watch the road speed by. Goals are rarely reached if you're focused so hard on the outcome that you lose sight of your process. Revel in your progress, not in it's conclusion. And don't play Candyland. It sucks.

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