Saturday, September 18, 2010

And a Rock feels no Pain. And an Island never Cries.

Continuing with my investigation into the nature of emotions as a purely intellectual response to adverse conditions, I've decided to discuss my bullshit reactions to mistakes, failures, and the unforeseeable fun of life. I bought a game this week. Not just any game, but the kind of game that I believe the youths are calling the "new hotness." It is, of course, a prequel to a sequel allowing a gigantic video game publisher to further capitalize on a successful franchise before they kick the game's developers into the cold with nary but a pat on the ass and a minority share in whatever new company they end up making. Meanwhile, I, as the consumer, get to play through a story I already know the ending to. (Everybody dies horribly, tragically, and alone.) All things being equal, I'd be pissed that someone would have the audacity to end the relationship with their intellectual property by publishing a third consecutive prequel rather than generate new story content, but I'm experiencing something unusual.
I've frequently lamented the lack of save points in life. Oh, how much easier human interaction would be if I could just save before an important conversation and attempt infinite interactions before finally stumbling upon the perfect one. And yet, here I have frequent save points and I'm experiencing the same thing I experience in save-point-free life. I go about my business, making the best decisions I can with what I know at the time, and then the world comes back to pull the rug out from under me with some completely unforeseeable tactic. In the video game, this is done through crescendos of action followed by cut scenes where all your hard work is trumped by new, overwhelming numbers. You discover an army of invaders when you first visit Futureville and destroy the invaders' ship with a big gun, then your big-gun-carrying ship is blasted from the sky by an even bigger ship. You destroy the even bigger ship from within just in time to see an entire fleet of invaders' visit the helpless planet of Futureville. You rescue stranded civilians and restore communications in Futureville but then the invaders start nuking Futureville into a glass marble. So on and so forth. You have no choice but to complete your objectives and to advance the plot.
Similarly in life, quitting is the least satisfying option. (But the option I most often make in anything but cigarettes.) No matter how hopeless a failure may be, the idea of success is always tantalizing. It never seems that far away to me. (Not abstract "success" but the immediate goals. I don't even have a definition of abstract "success." I think I'll worry about that later...) It's easy being a hermit, but it's not satisfying.
So I find myself in an interesting relationship with my ambitions. I know that I will be happy should I achieve them. I have never been the type to believe that the wanting is better than the having. Instead of feeling a fear of failure, I instead worry that my happiness is merely transient. Or, better yet, that all my anxiety over failing is instead anxiety over retaining that which I hope to achieve before I even achieve it. I am a master at identifying emotions, but I am never able to put my finger on the source of these emotions. Subsequently I don't know if I'm regretting decisions I haven't even made yet, but I do know that time doesn't feel as linear as it's alleged to be. I guess all there is is to reload and try again.