[Sober Living] Don’t Stop Trying

There was a boss in Axiom Verge that I spent a near half-hour trying to defeat but only once did I stop to think about consulting a text/video walkthrough and that was before realizing that I respected the game enough to play on its terms. The game, too, respected me. There weren’t artificial challenges or impossible odds. I just didn’t know the strategy or patterns. So too in life, we shouldn’t give up so quickly.

It helped that the save spot was near the boss.

I’d die after experimenting with some strategy and take the minute-hike back over to try another strategy. Only when I was throwing myself into the fray did I allow defeat to creep into my mind with consulting spoilers. That I didn’t, that I figured it out on my own, that I won to reap the spoils of my learnings was far greater a reward than just pressing through. What giving in there would have represented was deciding the game wasn’t actually worth my time, which would quickly let it fall into obscurity in my mind.

I do that often with games that don’t deserve it.

Those are the games where the strategies are obscured by esoteric logic or no logic. If you can watch the bullets spray in a pattern and you can dodge them just right, that’s fair. If there is no pattern or it takes twenty minutes of difficult trodding to get to the point where you must be defeated by the boss multiple times, that’s not fair. I’m a filthy casual when it comes to videogames, because for me a game should be fun and rewarding. I did learn to overcome a trivial adversity here, which is the central tenant of this essay, but life is made up of many trivialities, and so long as we strategize well, we can usually overcome them.

It’s just a matter of not giving up.

I think of life as being closer to Axiom Verge in this regard than Celeste, where the platforming starts off difficult but doable but then becomes near impossible. For games that permanently disadvantage you if you don’t quite make it, either through time or in-game discipline, I think back to that idea that I play games for recreation, narration, or inspiration. If it doesn’t fulfill those or other itches, why bother? There are millions of other games to try out. My thoughts, then, would lead into the idea that you should keep trying at the things you want to do.

What about my trying efforts toward being a writer?

Although financially I’ve not succeeded as a writer, [my net writing income, as of this writing, is zero dollars and zero cents with only one gift given,] I’ve succeeded in terms of practicing my writing and producing a wealth of content that’s helped myself and possibly others. In that regard, as long as I’m still getting some tangible reward – or making trivial progress like that videogame boss – then I’ll keep going. Let’s say, though, that writing becomes more of a chore, less entertaining, or even frustrating. Then I might stop trying.

That’s where we must constantly decide if it’s worth trying for certain things.

We shouldn’t allow those thoughts to creep in for basic biological functions. If we feel terrible about our lives, we should do everything we can try to work through that, whether with mild psychological treatments like talking to friends and reading inspirational materials or major psychological treatments like talking to doctors and getting worthwhile medication to calm those chemical undulations that might cause chaos in our minds.

Everything else, though, should be up for our own interpretation.

I write because I enjoy writing. I had about 15 minutes to spare before I started work, so rather than watch a video or even play Axiom Verge, I took an essay and edited it for publication. It was stressful much the same way as dying for the tenth time to that boss or otherwise dealing with stressful situations – ‘what if I’m late? Why is this asking up on me now?’ – the reward was clearing out one more thing off my plate, and similarly to learning strategies for overcoming that and future bosses, I figured out ways to make that time more efficient.

Some people may hate writing, and I respect that.

If you need to write an email for an important situation, don’t give up on that. It’s better to write something halfway sloppy to get it in than nothing at all. Some may argue that much, or all, of Better Zombie is like that. That’s a fair criticism but it disinterests me. I rather like knowing that for the past few years, like that boss and like my continued sobrieties, through each potential setback I’ve pressed on and succeeded. Or at least didn’t fail. Every essay I publish is one more attempt at learning the writing craft. Every time I don’t pause the game, switch over to some source another to spoil myself gameplay strategies to overcome some trivial encounter is a victory.

Every day I stay sober is one day I’m stronger.

It would be nicer if I didn’t have to deal with all that, but when I’ve played games like Celeste with infinite health, the game feels wrong. There’s no challenge, true, but then it becomes a trivial exercise that would be better experienced watching someone else commentate as they proceed through the game. On my Steam account, I have achievements for beating Celeste and VVVVVV, even though I didn’t earn them because of those cheats, just as I’ve beaten some games after researching certain strategies. For me, I’ve accepted that I’m not a talented gamer, but I won’t stop trying games that interest me, just as I won’t stop trying to write my thoughts down in ways that, hopefully, help others. There is no cheat code for success or sobriety, after all, you just have to keep doing it.

Each day gets easier after analyzing the last.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: Besides the boss? Just thinking about how life can be analogized in different ways depending on how we work through it.
Related: Other Sober Living essays.
Screenshot: Save near boss, but cropped.
Written On: 2020 April 06 [12:11am to 12:45am. Gdocs.]
Last Edited: 2020 April 08 [Adapted from Gdoc, so, second draft; final draft for the Internet.]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.