The Game Labyrinth
One of my favorite past times was to dash upstairs to my room after school, fire up whichever Nintendo system called to me that day, and escape into the fantastic worlds. I would help Mario collect stars, or help Link fight off monsters, or go on my own Pokémon adventure. I couldn’t have been more absorbed by these worlds, even if I was physically there. I loved these worlds so much, I still do.
I’m learning, as I get older, I cannot handle the hours on end binge as well as I did in my adolescence. Now if I play for more than 45 minutes, I’m filled with regret and mourning for the minutes I squandered in someone else’s story. I can’t place this feeling. Am I jealous that someone else created this world I enjoy so much? Am I embarrassed because I take so much joy in a world “meant for children”? Or is it some monstrous amalgamation of these feelings and other feelings I can’t put to words? All I know is that "I don’t like it!"
As these words leave my lips I find myself locking eyes with a beast. I look the beast in the face and say “why can’t I have this? This brought me so much joy but you keep gnawing on my insides, with increasing conviction as each minute ticks by.” The beast responds with a face liken to my own, but contorted with an ever changing age. It speaks with foreign yet familiar voices. “You dwindle your time living in a world of someone else’s creation. What have you created besides the burden on those that surround you? Let go of the childish fantasies and grow up. The American dream has no room for daydreamers.”
I don’t know what to say back. I use to lock the beast away. They outgrew their cage long ago. I’ve tried running from it for years. I have to face it, but I’m not sure what it is. I look it over and suddenly I see it's my own determination that has mutated into a jaded monster. Each time it comes to the surface to encourage me to act, I lock it away, feeding it scraps of fears and expectations of other people. I’ve always heard it in the back of my mind calling, scraping, roaring. I neglected it. I ran from it, through a labyrinth of video games and fantasies. Terrified of the monster that was on my heels. This is what has caused me so much distress. I have caused me so much distress.
I look at the beast. Its face has frozen in a mirror image of my own. “I’m sorry.” I say. “All you wanted was to see me succeed, but I just ran, leaving you a bread crumb trail of my own doubts. I’m finished running. I know we have to work together.” The beast’s expression changes from wild and frantic, to kind and understanding. As I take them in, I assess every wound. The wounds will take time to heal, and there will be scars, but I’m ready to heal. I’m ready to give my determination the attention it needs.
Now, I’m in the healing process. I’m thankful for the time, this year gave me, to look inward and appropriately assess my emotions. I’m thankful for the time to play videogames, not as a means of escape, but as a way to appreciate another person’s art. I no longer hide in their world, which gives me a new appreciation of the work they did. Moderation is a beautiful tool, as it is with many things. I encourage you to look inward and find that beast inside you and embrace them. Don’t fight the beast, or try to tame the beast. You’ll only end up taming yourself.