Game exercises word knowledge, but also has lesson about value of patience

It is my new “addiction.”

It’s the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night. It jump starts my brain, I justify, as I sneak in one more move before giving in to the demands of the day or the call of sleep.

At least this game is more social — unlike Tetris, that video game that almost turned me into a recluse 10 years ago. (I recall the days when I sought solitude while I battled my Game Boy and lined up those formations of falling rocks, waiting for them to explode and yield a new personal best score.)

My new passion, the scrabble-like “Words with Friends,” is a game between two players, or “friends” as the name implies. Letters appear at the bottom of the screen to be dragged onto the game board to form words. Points are automatically calculated after each play. High score wins.

My daughter introduced me to the new activity while I was recovering from an injury that kept me in bed most of the last two months. With my new iPad application, I could play my friends and family, even chat with them during the game, while exercising both my brain and competitive spirit.

The game is not only instructive, indicating which words were correct without penalty for error, but also surprisingly polite.

Yes, it’s a courteous game — especially when it errs.

Occasionally, the game-board would darken for no apparent reason. The following message would appear:

“Repairing. Do not close the app. Your games are being repaired. This will take several minutes.”

Although the interruption was annoying, I was unusually patient with the process, a trait I rarely display with misbehaving electronics.

One night as I stared at the message for the third time that day, I wondered why I was so tolerant of the game’s disruptive down time. Perhaps it was the message. Sixteen words clearly defined what was happening, why, and even gave me a time frame for when all would be well again.

My game had set clear expectations for me.

If only all waiting could be so informative.

As I sat in a doctor’s waiting room, I wondered: What other clear messages could improve my patience?

Would it help if I always knew what was happening and why there was a delay? Would a time frame help reorient my expectations?

My father had a unique perspective on patience — a characteristic he admittedly lacked.

“I have plenty of patience,” he would claim when challenged. “I’ve just run out of the allotment I had for you!”

Waiting can be a waste of time, for most of us. But is it? How often do we long for a few more minutes to read, rest, relax, or just have a little “me” time?

Perhaps the key is “owning” the wait, reclaiming that time blocked out for someone else when it is returned to us.

Or, we can simply lower our expectations. Writer Anne Lamott offers another view when she states, “Expectations are resentments under construction.”

Perhaps that’s why we dislike waiting.

But with a little more information — or a reset in expectations — waiting can become tolerable.

Or even a chance to spend that reclaimed time on a newly discovered passion.

It’s your move!

This column was originally published as part of my “From Where I Sit” series at in Towson Times.