November 26, 2011

Life Lessons from Zombies

We almost had a crisis first thing Thanksgiving morning:  The video game Plants vs. Zombies wouldn’t play!  Crisis averted, however, by the good people at Popcap Games.  They responded quickly and fixed it.

Thanksgiving day.  Reminds me to send a huge thank you to all you toilers on holidays.  It sucks working weekends and midnights and holidays, all so self-centered people like me can have our entertainment.  Another thing to be thankful for on this day.  You guys rock!

Anyway, as I played and played and played and my five-year-old son played and played, it got me thinking about how a well-designed game reveals your own proclivities and is a lot like life in some ways.

If you’re a cautious person, you’ll probably choose mostly defensive pieces ~ wall-nuts and potato mines ~ but of you’re an aggressive person, you’ll pick the most bang for your buck ~ice shrooms and jalapenos.  Defensiveness and aggressiveness exist on a spectrum, and I would think that either end would not do too well in this game.  Too defensive and you spend all your time running.  Too offensive and you leave huge holes in your line.  The best course is the middle one ~ some good offense balanced with some good defense.  Finding that balance is not easy, however.

It’s a really well-designed game because it has enough of a comfort zone yet it keeps pushing you forward, plus it has enough variety that you are always entertained.  One aspect is that just when you get comfortable, they force you to use a whole new set of tools to accomplish the same task, out of your comfort zone, which teaches you the value of those tools.

You guess where I’m heading.  Life is like that.  If you’re too cautious, you never really live.  If you’re too aggressive, you burn out and leave a beautiful corpse.  Not that a long life is a goal unto itself.  But the middle road is the best, moderation in all things.  The problem, of course, is to find out where the middle road is and to try to navigate that road.  The problem, much like the game, is that that road is always changing.  It never lets you rest.  You have to change and adapt along with it. 

I did my master’s thesis on the process of identity negotiation (in pioneer diaries), and it’s the same there.  As much as we’d like to think that we’re this fixed thing, we’re unequivocably not.  By dynamically identifying with others (“I want to be her”) and othering others (“I definitely am not her”), our self changes, as much as we would like to remain the same. 

So, in essence, our surroundings are changing, we are changing, and we’re just doing our level best to keep in top of it ~ or to convince ourselves that we are.

But, you know?  If you don’t, if you deny any part of it, you aren’t really living.  You’re missing the thrill, or you’re missing the depth. I am thankful for this life, in its many guises.

1 comment:

Robert M. Atkins said...

I very much enjoyed your use of the language in describing truths energies and free will we know as life.

The article begins with a most obvious truth in my beliefs that your son and others in his generation are ultimate truths about life so far as my generation can see and hear. The future of life as we know it belongs to him and them.

So, it is good that you take your limited time of life to nurture, inspire and motivate him and his generation to consider and advance the moral center of their lifetime existence inherited from you and your generation.

Having so stated this perceived truth, human life itself is the game of games in a world and even universe filled with all the amazing elements of it. My view is that you appear to be winning but we will not really ever know for sure until your DNA is attested perhaps a few hundred years from now, maybe even among descendents living on Mars.

Now, for my zinger about Zombies that epitomize the so-called living dead. I believe The Good Life comes into existence via good motherhood which is the moral center in our belief system about the game of life in which men and women are on the extreme ends of it. Children are in the center of life as we love it, and often hidden from view are those in the wombs where the promise of life everlasting was born on Christmas Day.