Build a REAL Life for Yourself
I had what turned out to be a really remarkable learning experience last night. I played a modern computer video game for the first time. It’s called Spore, and is apparently a revolutionary piece of recreational software.
What happens: It is similar in some ways to the game World of Warcraft, in that you create a character and control it in an artificial world. You move it around, feed it, add body parts as you grow and evolve. You run from enemies, maybe kill them or other creatures, learn stuff, “mate” and reproduced your creature. You gain skills and abilities, you can change how your species looks. You also gain points for meeting other creatures in the artificial environment and creating alliances or defeating enemies. You can also, as you evolve beyond the animal level, become sentient and build structures, vehicles and even space ships to travel to other planets.
I went to bed two hours later than usual and will have to take a nap during the day when it catches up to me.
I installed the software about 10:30 on a Saturday night and was rather absorbed until after 1 am.
I spent those hours doing rather repetitive things, “attaining” goals and getting rewards, but I felt afterward like I was chasing a carrot on a stick. It was really sad. I felt like I was something of a rat in a maze, literally being rewarded for pressing buttons like in those lab experiments you read about in high school.
So sometime after 1 AM I decided I should go to bed instead of staying up forever. It took me an hour to fall asleep. As a result I will need to replace those hours of sleep sometime during the day when it catches up to me, so now I can’t go hiking with a friend today as I had planned.
I also learned several valuable lessons.
In this simulated version of life I got a good look at how life is built gradually and that patience is necessary.
I also learned that this game is a poisonous waste of my real life. I can spend time creating an artificial being, an artificial life for it, doing artificial things, accumulating artificial wealth to buy artificial tools and artificial body parts for an artificial body, making artificial friends – there are enough of those in real life, right? – , have artificial adventures, make artificial structures and vehicles in a world that doesn’t exist, attaining all sorts of artificial, meaningless attainments.
Or I can create a real life with a real future: Doing real things, making real friends, attaining real attainments, setting real goals, creating real art, making real innovations, building real structures, buying real vehicles, building real wealth, improving my real body, cooking real food – all in the real world.
“Don’t you have a real life?” Yes, but at this point in my life it really could be better, and I will not make it that way spending hours a day in a life simulator (read: “life waster”).
What didn’t happen:
I didn’t spend any time on my new project to re-learn French. I studied it for five years in high school and had lost much of my ability to speak it off the cuff. Now that I am using Rosetta Stone it’s coming back.
I didn’t make progress developing my new awesomeness project. I’ve recently become very inspired by some articles online about being awesome, and it has set a bar for me that is not just about making my life better here and there, but awesome everywhere I can, and for the sake of awesomeness and the well being that comes with it.
I didn’t do any of the things already in my Awesomeness Project list. Granted, I just started writing it two days ago and am still building the scope and concept of it for myself, yet I could have spent even ten minutes on it and gained more than in two hours of Spore and another hour trying to fall asleep.
Granted, I wasn’t likely to do these things in the middle of the night, but I could have, and would be better off for doing so. I would have been better off sleeping.
No, I’m not beating myself up for it. I’m very exited that I had this experience and made these realizations. Never before has it been so clear what is of value in my moment-to-moment life choices and actions. I see clearly the difference between real and artificial and the value of how I spend my time. If you want to attain more in life, don’t complain when you are at the same time squandering time in what is literally an IDLE pastime like Spore or WOW or browsing the web or myriad other things.
“But you need to play and have fun, enjoy life. That creates balance.”
First of all, considering my procrastination and lack of focus over the years, as well as poor choices, spending more time in a life simulator when my real life is not satisfying is not a fun prospect but rather perpetuates the current situation. Actually, it makes it worse because the clock ticks and time waits for no man, blah, blah, blah. My favorite motivational quote is, “Sometimes later becomes never.”
Fun? For me at this point what is fun is the prospect of attaining all the awesomeness I envision for myself, and working on that, making progress, taking action is all very satisfying. When you attain things or work toward their attainment you relieve the stress, conscious or subconscious, that is lurking within you. Shoot, even cleaning off your desk relieves stress. (I need to do that, too.)
Play? I bought Spore thinking it would be a good way to get me to do more playing in my life, but now I realize it and games like it are sirens (like in Greek myth) that lure the ship of my available time onto the rocks of fruitless distraction. So, yes I am looking for other ways to play that I will enjoy, but more to the point of this article I have realized that for me the satisfaction of building awesomeness in my life is as satisfying as play.
Balance? By building my real life I am establishing greater balance. I believe life is about building well being. When you’re not building, healing, remedying, growing, learning, bringing order and peace and love and all the great things in life, along with actually playing, you are out of balance. No, it doesn’t have to be all work. That’s not what I’m saying. “Work” is an attitude toward what you’re doing, not what you’re doing, unless you don’t like what you’re doing. I’ve heard it said that when you do what you love to do, even as a job, it’s not work but play and you love every minute of it.
The same goes for the ‘tasks’ of building your life. When you’re in balance within your self and your approach to your life, “working” to attain isn’t work but play. Improving your life becomes play, and you don’t see it as work but as expanding your life expression, and are excited about what’s happening – as excited as in “regular” play.
So I choose not to piss away my real life building a pretend one in my computer, pretending all the time that things as they are will be just fine if I spend hours and hours a week in a computerized daydream instead of doing something to attain what I want in life – realness and awesomeness.
Now, I ask you: what about your real life? Shouldn’t your whole, real life be more fun and feel like play?