Sunday, February 10, 2013
Why I'm Old School
Recently, I had a flashback. It happened while teaching my daughter to play backgammon. As I explained the mechanics of the game, I suddenly flashed back to my nine-year-old self learning to play with my best friend, Ania, whose dad taught us after giving her a set for her seventh birthday. She had been so disappointed to find a little brown suitcase after the wrapping paper came off, but we learned the game, and we were forever hooked. Ania's aunt and uncle had a blue leather backgammon set with blue swirl and white chips. As soon as I saw it, I told Ania that when I grew up, I was going to get one just like it.
We played constantly, and didn't even play competitively. Half the time, we never knocked each other's chips off the board, even when they were left single and vulnerable. It was so relaxing to just move the pieces, hear and feel the sound of the dice rolling in the cup, and just talk about other things while our hands focused on moving our chips, closer and closer to home.
I prefer old school games to computer ones or X-Box. At Chuck E. Cheese's, I go straight to the skeeball and would have no trouble staying there the entire time. The constant movement of my right arm tossing the ball, getting better and better with each throw, having to get the gentle tug of my arm just right to get the ball into those little circles at the top. Maybe they are 1,000 points, but I don't even know because I don't play to get tickets, I like to stand there and think of other things while my arm tosses the ball as second nature.
This love of the tangible is similar to people saying they love the feel of a book and smell of its pages rather than using the Kindle. Or those who have said the sound of the grooves of a vinyl album and its wear and tear transports them back to the first time they heard the songs. But more than the tangible, for me it's that zoned-out relaxed feeling that I love when I play backgammon. I can't imagine getting that feeling while staring at bright lights on a laptop version of the game. Being zoned out, then having my laptop freeze or crash, forcing me back into reality. That can't happen while I'm playing the board game.
Backgammon is zen to me, which is defined as "absorption or a meditative state." While playing backgammon, you're cleaning out your mind because you are focusing on moving the pieces on the board, your thoughts have emptied. You have redirected your focus.
After I taught my daughter backgammon, we immediately turned on my laptop. We didn't do it to play a virtual board game or for social networking or FarmVille. We did it so we could do a Google search in hopes of finding a blue leather, blue and white swirl chip backgammon set.