The Real Stuff – May 17, 2022 (137/365)

For the entire month of April I was gaming pretty hard, and it cost me my streak, and a whole lot of time which could have been used more productively. I’m not pinning the blame on anyone but myself. It seems that I found the world I immersed myself into, so much more appealing compared to the real thing.

By playing Cyberpunk 2077 I’m reminded of how visual appeal is a huge factor to not only how people are drawn to a product, but also to how they just keep coming back for more. If I was younger I imagine I’d still be immersed in the world of Night City, with all its colors, all the contrast and the attention to detail.

By saying ‘If I was younger’ I do remember my gaming habits back in the day. Weekends would be spent at home and I would be on the computer for hours on end… and if I wasn’t playing real-time strategy, I’d be playing role playing games – The Fallout franchise was a hit in my book. From high school, through college, and even in the days I was working, thoughts of the SPECIAL system, Nuka Cola, Sunset Sarsaparilla, Deathclaws, and the like – they never totally left my mind. I went from Fallout 2 to Fallout, to Fallout 3 and all its expansions, to Fallout New Vegas. I remember the motivation behind me buying a new Desktop computer around 2015 was because I wanted to play Fallout 4.

I still haven’t touched Fallout 76. Why not? Short answer, it involved other people. It’s an online game built off of the design and system of Fallout 4. Prior to ’76 I’ve enjoyed just immersing myself in the worlds. I remember I’d go back to areas on the map where enemies would spawn – enemies that once posed a threat were now mowed down at my leisure, at a time and method of my choosing. Obviously I found this feeling of superiority and supremacy pleasurable. So when ’76 came out, deep in me I probably realized that being better than the game was going to involve other people, versus just the game AI… and my brain (1) wasn’t about to share the glory, and (2) it’s a whole different thing demonstrating power over another human being versus a computer brain.

Steam tells me I’ve spent 137(!) hours playing Cyberpunk 2077, since the beginning of April. After going through the full game, I was tempted to start again. I noticed that one justification I was thinking for going through the exhaustive gauntlet again was to go through it, only this time with a greater awareness of what really mattered versus what could be left alone. It’s not helping that now that I’ve seen how the story unfolds, I’m watching other YouTube videos about the game, about stuff I could have missed. Fortunately it was easy for me to resist temptation. I just generally thought I needed a rest from all the gaming – well, all the Cyberpunk, anyway. Much as I love the way it’s designed and the way it’s played, it’s sort of programmed in my mind that once I hear and see the opening sequence, I’m going to be in that world for at least an hour.

I’m not quite sure why I’m sharing all this. It’s probably for me to just express how I’m willing to waste real time for immediate sensory stimulation, over real adventures with real risks involved, and minimal rewards seen. Sort of like how I used to binge on porn. Yes, used to. But what kept me going back? Was it the avoidance of the real risks, or was is the glorification of the ‘rewards’?

While I was thinking of that I was reminded of Jocko Willink’s simple line – Discipline Equals Freedom. I’d like to add, Discipline Equals REAL Freedom. The way I responded to that tells me that I sway that way – that is, I find contentment and satisfaction over the small ‘pleasures’ given by these alternate realities. But there lie this issues: First, I shouldn’t be content with the lesser rewards. Second, I should never forget that most, if not all of these ‘lesser rewards’ are cheap, because they aren’t real. Porn isn’t real. Just like the power I have in these single-player games isn’t real.

Discipline has us adjusting our mindsets. It goes deeper than us constraining our movements, deeper than us following routines down to the smallest details. I suppose I went through the whole song and dance of talking about my gaming habits, only to share the deeper value of discipline to whoever reads this (myself included). And based on those issues I mentioned, I’m realizing that discipline, more than anything else, keeps us grounded in reality… and as an effect, we realize true and real rewards, and therefore, true and real freedom. 

I’m also learning that part of discipline is enjoying the process – enjoying every push-up, every minute spent writing, every speech, every conversation that leads to greater manifestations of freedom. It’s a shift, from seeing just the pain to recognizing the long-term results, and in so doing enduring, and even enjoying the pain. The pleasure is drawn from understanding that even the smallest things done are not put to waste. It’s not that was endure on the way to the reward – in a sense, the reward is in the journey just as much as it is in the destination. Man, I know it all sounds cheesy, but it’s certainly something that’s been playing in my brain as I went through this day.

Wrapping this all up, I certainly agree with any call for us to discipline ourselves. This doesn’t necessarily mean hurting ourselves or punishing ourselves for things we did wrong – No, I like how Andrew Farley says that true discipline is not punishment for the past, but preparation for the future. And in our preparing, may we recognize that with is fantasy as just fantasy, and let us respect creation and this reality by seeing it for what it is, and acting accordingly.

In other words, let’s put things in their proper place – and that’s all definitely second to Christ and His finished work.

Did I make any sense today? Well, if you made it this far, thanks, and God bless you.

More to come.

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