The last year of my life has been one filled with a tremendous amount of change, challenges, and learning. I’ve reached a plethora of major life milestones. I’m a new home owner. I’m an elected official, trusted by my peers to make the right decisions for our community. Things at my day job have been going very well and I may be looking at another promotion in the not so distant future. And I’m in the best shape of my life. To say the least, things have been going well for me. And I’m absolutely proud of everything that I’ve accomplished in my life thus far.
Every once in a while however, something comes along and it makes you take a step back and think about things. You know what I’m talking about. It’s different from everybody. Nonetheless however, things change in life and we often find ourselves at crossroads. We meet new challenges, learn new lessons, and grow as human beings. A combination of two things recently made me step back and take a look at my outlook on life. One is a girl, who is quickly becoming very special to me. The second is Minecraft.
Let me start at the beginning; A few weeks back I finally took the plunge and bought Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition. I’d heard everything that the ten million players of the game have said about it. I just didn’t really “get it”. It looked downright pointless to me. I was the kind of person who wanted big Hollywood style entertainment. I was the kind of guy who for the most of my gaming time, played shooters. Why? Because they’re easy to dive into, usually pretty straight forward, and provide quick bursts of action. But one day, on a whim, I decided, what the hell, I’ll give it (Minecraft) a shot.
What I found was a game that truly is different. Minecraft is a game that sets your imagination free. You can build almost anything you set your mind to. The biggest element of the equation however, is the process. In Minecraft, you have to go out, actually find, and collect the materials needed to build whatever it is that you have in mind. Simply put, achieving something in Minecraft takes time and patience.
This is where the epiphany first began to hit me. I’m part of the “instant gratification” generation, as many of you are. We have little patience, and it’s a serious problem. It rears its head in a variety of places. In our careers, in our personal lives, in relationships, etc. We really are, as a society becoming less and less patient. We live in a world that’s constantly connected, and we all have to have our hands on something, all the time. Many people lack the focus and drive to work for something, to earn it. We lack the patience to lay the foundations of something great, brick by brick, like you have to do in Minecraft.
Over the past few months, I’ve been applying this lesson to my life. I like to think that I was pretty good at this to begin with, compared to many of my peers, but I quickly found that I could do better. I was looking at a lot of things in my life wrong. I kept telling myself that things like my career(s) and financial situation were more important than my personal life. I can now say without a doubt, that I was wrong. Looking back at it now, all I can think of is Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight talking about the “schemers” and how he essentially flipped their world upside down. I was one of those schemers. The reality is, sometimes we really do need to just go with the flow.
The most recent element of my life that I’ve applied this valuable lesson to is in relationships. Very recently a girl came into my life for an extremely short moment in time. You’ve heard the phrase “gone in the blink of an eye”. In the grand scheme of one’s life, it was like that. I spent a day with this girl. Just one day. And in that day, I experienced a connection on a level that I have never experienced with another human being. Everything flowed completely seamlessly. We shared a seemingly endless number of interests and at the end of the day, we just laid together and talked for hours. We talked about everything under the sun. We talked about our outlooks on life, our careers, our pasts, our futures, everything. We just talked, openly and honestly. It was one of the best days I’ve ever spent with someone in my twenty five years of living.
This story is also one of tragedy however. The very next day after I hung out with this girl for the first time ever, she moved to the opposite side of the country. I knew it was happening right from the get go, so it wasn’t a surprise. But the feeling that I was left with was one that I couldn’t even describe. Here I was, fresh off one of the most positive and electrifying experiences of my life. And the next day, the person that I shared that with was gone.
Here’s where the really tough part and life lesson comes in. I now have a choice. I most definitely have feelings for this girl. While we only spent one day together, and it may sound silly to some, I cannot deny that I feel something for her. She truly is a special person. And I think she feels something for me as well. So, where do I go from here? The younger, and less wise version of myself might have said, well, just bury your feelings and move on because that’s the “safe” option. It’s the one that involves the least amount of pain and vulnerability. But you know what? I’m not that person anymore.
I realize that sometimes, the best things in life are things that you have to work for. Sometimes, you have to build things over time, like in Minecraft. Sometimes, when something denies all logic or reason, and can’t be explained, you still have to dive in head first. You have to think about more than yourself, and the immediate future. Maybe I have to risk hurting or humiliating myself to build this into something more than what the average person would. Because the reality is, she’s not gone, and neither of us are the “average person”. Sure, she’s not right next to me, but we both have long promising lives ahead of us and none of us know what the future holds. Our one day together unfolded almost like a movie. Maybe, just maybe, the rest of our story will as well. Maybe, we have to treat this like Minecraft. Just start building, block by block, and see where it takes us. The sky is literally the limit.
Very rarely in my life have I not had “plans” or an answer for everything in my life. I think things through rationally and that’s gotten me to this point. I’m 25, I have several good jobs, I’m following the career path that I want to (government and politics), I have a house, I’m in good physical shape, etc. But maybe sometimes, you can’t think about everything rationally. Maybe you really do have to follow your heart. Maybe sometimes you really do have to build the foundation first. Brick by brick and wall by wall. Life isn’t just about instant gratification. Life isn’t a round of Call of Duty, full of explosions. All of those old sayings you heard as a kid really do apply. Life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Rome wasn’t build in a day. Those types of statements are all true and we’d be wise to take them to heart. Recent events in my life have made me realize this, and I think I’m growing into a better person because of it. I call on the rest of my generation and my fellow gamers to do the same. Slow down, chill out, (maybe even put down the controller here and there) and treat life like Minecraft. Let’s build something bigger than ourselves, enjoy life, and work together toward a better collective future for everyone.