It’s amazing the memories that a cuppa tea can evoke. This time it was when I got caught playing a computer game at the office. I must have turned 10 shades of red. But it’s not all you would think it is. I’d better start at the beginning.

Caught in the act! Hey, it helps me be creative! (Screen capture from PC)

Caught in the act! Hey, it helps me be creative! (Screen capture from PC)

Once upon a time, I was able to find gainful employment writing very boring yet clearly understandable translations to normal English of computer geek jargonese. It was sort of like going from some obscure language from some remote corner of the world to a more commonly known language (English, Spanish, Mandarin, etc.). Often, these positions would be on a contract basis, that is, I’d sweep in, bestow my “genius” on them, and then sweep back out. Sort of like some tidal wave washing in a bunch of flotsam and then taking off and leaving it littering the beach. Ha! Actually, my efforts were more useful than that for the most part. I hope.

These days many companies have their computers set to block game playing on them. The amount of productive time wasted by employees on playing games, cruising the internet, and even online shopping is a big expense to companies and government agencies alike, so I guess it’s not surprising that such things get blocked by their Information Technology (IT) departments. Clever folks can figure ways to get around the blocks, though, and I did just that. Why? Because in my case playing a bit of Solitaire or Minesweeper helped me sort out issues and get a clearer perspective. Honest!

So one day I’m in my Dilbert-like cubicle and running a good game of solitaire while the latest issue of how to lay out the upgrade plan for the Marketing Department was working its way through my brain when along came the manager of the IT section I was assigned to and her second in command. (As they would say on Star Trek: Voyager, Captain Janeway and Number One had arrived.) Blushing ten shades of red, I quickly minimized the game and hoped they hadn’t seen. A quick slurp of tea from the cup at my side helped restore my equilibrium a bit.

How to explain my process to them? I didn’t bother. Most people don’t understand how the creative mind often works. We need stimuli and time to arrange and rearrange them mentally. Games can give us that rearrangement time we need. Whether writing articles like this one, creating jewelry designs,  painting still lifes, or writing poems, the creator needs that mental space that a game can provide for excelling at that creative endeavor. Of course, taking a break and steeping some tea works, too! Enjoy!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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