Backtracking

ouroboros

And just like dreams the games we play fall away from us when they are complete, and just like dreams they are easily forgotten and then remembered at random many years later, and just like dreams they slip by in the wink of an eye gently into our past where they cannot be reached. Just like dreams, just like life, gone by too fast and leaving just a dusty outline like a running cartoon character.

We try to live these things again. We try to replay the games, re-dream the dreams, relive the lives, but we’re just building hollow simulacra around our history, tributes to past happiness and imagination. We are rapacious and have consumed everything there is of our past to be consumed, and we cannot be satiated by gnawing on the bones forever. But we’ll try– indeed, until we starve, we’ll try.

The way through is outwards, not inwards. Our hearts might be content to devour themselves until they are bloated and consumed if we do not guide them elsewhere.

Loving games as an art form while still being self aware means I have a constant paranoia that I am just pursuing nostalgia, that I love these things only because I have loved them in the past and am too afraid to admit to myself that the love has gone because it would threaten too large a piece of my identity. I don’t feel that way now, but I have felt that way in the past and I anticipate feeling that way again in the future.

I still go back to the things I loved in the past, but it’s as much research expedition as anything now. I play and I try to understand what it was about this game, this world, that has gouged itself into me for so long, what it is that resonates in my brain and back out and makes my teeth ache with longing. Is it just an illusion, nursed by decades of nostalgia? It seems implausible, but we humans are so good at fooling ourselves…

They say the unexamined life is not worth living, but a life spent in constant self-examination is a life unlived. If you return to drink from the same well every day don’t be surprised if it begins to go dry. Your waters may run deep, but the dirt surrounding them is infinitely thirsty. It is easy to be consumed by a habit of retrospection, of remembrance and recrimination and reliving past glories, and difficult afterwards to escape. It is easy to make of yourself a prison, and to end your life, reverse it, and try to live backwards until you die.

Someday, again, you will love something as much as you have loved in the past– even if that, too, must slip into the past for you to realize it.

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