Many wise people have said over eons that life is a game. What did they mean by this statement? I will demonstrate this belief in a narrative of my own life. Hopefully, by showing this philosophy through my experiences, it will become clear what it means: treating creative work, building character, and mundane tasks as if they were a part of game.
You know how in video games your avatar or character levels up by completing certain tasks or gaining a certain amount of experience? Well, I believe life is similar to this system. Throughout the last almost 10 years, I have dedicated each day to work on my creativity. I know that by focusing on my creative talents each day, I can gain the experience, knowledge, and skills necessary for raising my level of creative results. For me, it is a joy to see what new level I reach each day when I play percussion, sing, and write. Though with these three creative tasks, progress is more gradual than if I would be focusing on only one task, the progress is still noticeable and motivating. I feel that each day, I am moving forward to the unattainable goal of creative perfection. I say unattainable as we cannot master a creative art, as that would mean we know everything there is to know about that art and we can do everything we envision on the spot. Just like in some video games, even after reaching the top level, there is still experience to gain, new skills to obtain, new items to gather, and secrets to unlock.
In terms of building character, I often treat it as a game. For example, I will say to myself in the morning, “Let us see how patient I can be today with my wife.” Besides the morning, I will remind myself of this game throughout the day, keeping myself in line. Trying to make yourself a better person each day is not easy to do in the face of many responsibilities and stresses. Yet, if we treat the building of character as a game, then we can trick ourselves into thinking that this process is lightweight. This “trick” is key to making the building of character an enjoyable experience rather than feeling like boot camp. Perhaps the greatest element of this process is seeing how people close to you react to your behavioral changes in a positive manner.
Mundane tasks, such as sweeping the floor, picking up the mail, and tidying up your room, can seem tiresome. However, if you make such tasks into games, they can even become fun. Say you need to wash the dishes, you can see how many dishes you can wash in one minute. You can repeat this timer to see if you can beat your highest score. Also, putting on some of your favorite music can also stimulate the process. Personally, the game I play is to clean something the best I can to make sure there is nothing else to be cleaned. In other words, I want to see how clean I can get something. In the case of my room, I spent hours each day for a week cleaning my room from top to bottom. It was exhilarating to throw away so many things, to make everything neat and tidy, and to witness my room becoming new again. I wanted to see how clean my room could become. Though we call certain tasks mundane, they can in fact become exciting and refreshing. In my case as a writer and editor, I do not get the chance to move around that often. I treat cleaning and related activities as a way to work out, even moving in a way that will incur more exercise.
Now, let us get more philosophical. We come into this world with nothing, and also leave with nothing to take with us. The rest is a game: a series of events to see how far we can get on our journey towards an ideal. Though we may do creative work, build our character, and complete mundane tasks, the end result is the same: we leave this world with nothing to take with us. However, we leave a resonance behind us: the memories of our actions, discussions, and work. In this way, we are only instruments that leave behind what can be enjoyed (hopefully) by others. Longevity is not so much about how long you live—it is about how long what we have done in our lives affects others in a positive way.