No matter how much energy a person has, with no direction they will never be able to achieve much. It’s the difference between throwing a rock and throwing a handful of gravel. This is the main reason why jobs are a thing: It’s difficult for most people to direct themselves, consistently, towards a single problem, and even more so to keep doing so in the face of the many challenges and burdens that life places in their way. Jobs, as an institution, go a long way towards solving both these problems, first by channeling that person’s energies narrowly on a particular focus, and secondly by compensating them for their time with resources that make distractions easier to deal with. That may not be the prevailing logic behind their creation, but that is one reason they have endured.
I don’t have one, so I need to figure out other solutions. I think I’ve mentioned all of this before: This blog is one of these solutions, as is, oddly enough, my current state of more-or-less abject poverty. It’s started to spread outside of the realm of productivity though, and I’m noticing that I’m beginning to apply some of the same tricks I’ve learned over the past months towards improving my life in other ways: Trying to become not only a more disciplined person when it comes to work and maintenance, but also to be more open to new experiences. I’ve found myself beginning to devise structured approaches for meeting people, for enjoying art, for not just engaging with but experiencing the world…
It’s hardly been a consistent success, but I think I’m making progress. Maybe.
It occurred to me, though, that I’m basically structuring the way I interact with my life in much the way one would structure a game to be interacted with by players. The same way I try to clarify my expectations of myself, to keep punishment for my inevitable failures moderate and measured, to always provide myself with signs pointing to the next thing I need to do to progress, to keep myself from becoming overwhelmed: All, basically, game design tasks as applied to making myself a life to live.
Which, inevitably, then raises the question: Is this the way I interface with the world because of my experience with gaming, or am I drawn to gaming because this is the way I interface with the world?
It’s an interesting question, albeit probably not one that can really be answered. Games and I go way back, far enough back that it’s difficult to really separate that influence. Yeah, games have shaped the way I view the world, but what hasn’t? After a certain short distance, all these influences begin to blend together tightly and become indistinguishable from myself. After a year or two, it just becomes a long streak of undifferentiated history.
So, forget about root causes. What about now? What does it mean to me that I have to structure the way I approach the world so carefully, so methodically? That I need to craft my experience, assign a rhythm to my explorations of existence?
I get defensive about this sometimes. I’m not emotionally handicapped, I’m emotionally handi-capable, I’m emotionally differently-abled. Just because I had to make myself a prosthetic life in order to engage with the world in a way that makes sense to me doesn’t make it any less worthwhile a life: To the contrary, it’s my difficulty to find worth in a more typical lifestyle that drove me to this one. It might not be easy but, for now at least, it’s the only life for me.
In more ways than one.