I loved the original Nintendo. Beyond Mario and Zelda, I played games like Blaster Master and Deadly Towers. In these games, there were no save slots. You played the game until you either won or died. When you died, you had to start over from the beginning.
I usually died.
I think I beat Blaster Master once. I was in my twenties. It took me months (also in my twenties and with a friend) to beat Deadly Towers. When we got to the boss (nearly impossible) we knew we’d never make it back. We also remembered that it took us months to get to the boss. So we cheated. We looked up how to beat the boss. (It’s not my proudest secret.)
Something fascinates me about the original Nintendo. You put a game in. You press the start button. These are givens. They have to be givens.
But that reset button…
You could just hit the start button twice. Turn it off, turn it on. But they made the reset button.
They knew you were going to lose. Going to get so frustrated. Yet maintain enough hunger that you’d want to play again so quickly that hitting the start button twice wasn’t an option.
I have a lot of Nintendo games I didn’t beat. I have no Nintendo games I never played. I probably hit the reset button on all of them at some point.
What I like about the reset button is that it’s a fresh start…but not really a fresh start. Hitting the reset button is different than playing a game in for the first time.
The reset button takes you back to the start screen, but you aren’t a complete newbie. You have some playing time under your belt. You might even know how to beat the first few levels in record time. (Maybe not record time…)
You’re starting fresh, but you’re not new.
Few of us hit the reset button in life. In training.
We keep playing the game despite being lost and confused. You aren’t dead, but you don’t know what to do. You retrace every single step you took.
Sometimes the best thing to do is hit the reset button. Start fresh. You might have to do things you already done. You might feel like a loser. But the reset gives you a fresh perspective. You might notice something you missed previously. Might talk to one villager in a different context that ignites something inside.
This is different from game over because with game over you have no choice: you have to reset.
It takes a bit more courage to reset when it’s not game over. You hold in that reset button. Teeth clenched. Is this the right move?
Game over is your ally. It smacks you in the face. You were’t good enough, but you’re free to try again from the start if you’d like.
Unfortunately, there’s no game over for us. We play and we play. We rarely ever stop to think: alright, alright…I lost. Let’s try this over from the top. Let’s scrap everything and do this differently the second time around because it’s scary.
All of the progress…gone.
But it’s not. It’s there. Somewhere. And even then, consider the point of it all. You’re stuck. Whatever you were doing didn’t work. Whatever you are doing isn’t getting you anywhere.
Why not start fresh?
Sometimes we need game over because, otherwise, we’d never have the stones to hit reset.
This is your game over…if you need it.
Ever have a bunch of old clothes that you just can’t throw away? You know you’ll never wear them. Ever. But you can’t let them go. The thin film of dead clothes grows into a thick boulder of even deader clothes over the years. Junk smashing other junk.
You’re left with baggage. Less room. More crap. Dead crap at that — crap you’re never going to use. It doesn’t make sense, this habit. It’s not the smartest quirk to have.
And that’s why your body throws it’s old clothes away. Whatever it knows it’s not going to use, say bye-bye. There’s no need to have useless junk taking up space and energy when both the space and the energy could go elsewhere. A more important elsewhere, to boot.
Your body is greedy. It’s always trying to survive in a way better suited to the world you’ve shown it.
Want it? Need it. The body is more likely to keep it around (or create it) if you need it.
Don’t need it? You won’t have it. Your body doesn’t keep old clothes.
You have a lot clothes when you’re young — clothes you regularly wear. Balancing and vestibular awareness. The juicy fluid in your inner ear. Spatial reasoning. Constructing a virtual pathway in your brain. Kinesthetic sense. Knowing where your body is in space. Spatial-temporal awareness. Knowing where you are in relation to other objects.
You roll. Squat. Jump. Fall. You weren’t afraid of landing impact. You weren’t afraid of the universe rotating your consciousness as you somersaulted sixteen times in a row. You know, just for fun. For kicks. You, in all of your youthful plasticity, soaked up these abilities as you did these things. You bought the clothes.
Your body is cool keeping these clothes around because you wear them. Because you do find it enjoyable to somersault sixteen times in a row for no real reason.
Today? Unlike when you were six? Sixteen somersaults make you spew your supper into the foliage. You don’t have those clothes anymore.
Put your arm in a cast and your muscles wither away. Put your balance, spatial reasoning, kinesthetic awareness, and that whole bag of treats into a cast (don’t use them) and they wither away too.
They become old clothes. Never worn. Baggage.
Every day you don’t put wear these clothes they collect dust. Every molecule of dust inches them closer to the corner of the closet where old clothes slither in soot. And what do you know about old clothes? What happens to them?
Your brain is plastic, just like your body. Use these abilities or lose these abilities.
The best time to start was yesterday.
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Image credit: old clothes