Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How do you live your life? (4/12/2017)

I have been following a blogger with the name of Mark Mason for a while. He is a self-proclaimed thinker, writer and life enthusiast. His latest post hit home; he titled it “Life is a Video Game--These are the Cheat Codes.” While Mark drops a lot of F-bombs in his article(s), more than I have ever dropped in my entire blogging career, it still got me thinking.

Mark tells us that in his opinion our life as a video game has 5 difficulty levels:

  • Level 1 – Find food; find a bed to sleep in at night
  • Level 2 – Know you’re not going to die
  • Level 3 – Find your people
  • Level 4 – Do something that’s important and valuable to both yourself and others
  • Level 5 – Create a legacy

No, I am not dead yet.  But who the hell am I and am I really doing something that is important and valuable to myself and others, or am I creating a legacy?   (Actually, I took this selfie by accident after biking on the New River Trail, but I kind of like it).

That is what got me wondering, “at what level am I?”  This is exactly why this article hit home.  But first, I somehow agree with Mark’s assessment of these levels.  There may be small steps in between, or detours, but when you look at it, these are important levels.

Most of us have no problem reaching Level 1; although walking through downtown Richmond and seeing some of the beggars and in the morning, or when I see this guy sleep in the doorway of this abandoned building.  At that point you just can’t escape the feeling that even some people can’t reach that level for one reason or another.  It is sad that we have no safety net for them and we can't even help them to the next level.  Some people argue that they don't want help, and who knows, some may not.

Level 2 is where things may start breaking down already; many people and particular kids in the inner city are not sure if they are going to survive to make it to the next day or to adulthood.  There is so little future for them and maybe this is why they will join gangs and don’t give a shit about life.  They somehow try to cheat this Level and go to Level 3 and try to find their people in gangs and groups, but actually these groups will most likely drop them like a hot potato (and kill them) when they become a liability or when they are no longer needed.  Not really true friends.  But then what do you do when you have no future or really never think you will be able to attain Levels 2, 3, 4 or 5 in your lifetime?  This is why the “Black lives matter” movement is so important, that should give them more hope and more genuine support you need to get to Level 3.

Last week when I was teaching, there were these four guys who were horsing around with each other.  It was so much fun to see them joke with each other like what appeared to be true friendship.  I fed on that and it made my teaching fun.  They obviously reached Level 3.  But there are also so many fake friends; it reminds me of the “Sopranos” where friends were expandable and you could easily fit them for concrete shoes.  Good, true friendship is hard to find, and from what I understand we guys have a more difficult time with it than women do.  However, it really is that Level 3 where a lot of people get stuck, in my eyes; they never get past that level. 

Even here at work, you see that too many people can never get past Level 2 or maybe Level 3.  They seem to come to work and go through the motions; play the social butterfly; try to please everyone; write reports for reporting sake; worry about writing a good report or looking good to their superior; kiss up; play the politics; you name it.  But in the end the only reason they do it is maybe to be accepted; noticed; fill in something they are missing in their private life or maybe when they grew up; be the boss’s favorite and hopefully get that promotion and a raise.  In the end they think they are doing this for themselves, but at what satisfaction?  In my eyes they compromise their entire lives away and are not genuine to themselves and to others.  They go through the motions in life, make fake friends, and make sure that they don’t miss that bus in the evening to take them home where they can veg out and watch TV or play video games in order to block out the miserable life they lead at work.  When push comes to shove, they have not done anything valuable for themselves, for their friends, for society or the community at large; although they keep trying to convince themselves that they did.  Many people live a life of denial. As Joni Mitchell once sang, they could have been more.

But even in the classes that I teach.  Granted, all these people have to take my classes to get recertified.  However, I make them as fun and interesting as I can, and I get a lot of reviews that tell me I am doing a good job at that.  But I also have a lot of people who sit in the back of the class and as I think about it: just browse porn site on their phones, and don’t pay attention to me what so ever.  They go through the motions because their supervisors tell them they have to take these classes.  They have no ambition to ever make it to Level 5 and maybe not even Level 4.

As Mark writes, Level 5 is making sure that your life mattered when you are dead.

At the end of his blog Mark writes the following (and this is a direct quote):

Good luck Player One. Remember, the game of Life is designed to be complex and confusing. The difficulty is not winning, but knowing what winning itself means. Because that’s the real challenge: deciding what our own life is worth and then having the courage to go out and live it.

I have tried to live my life to the fullest. When we were younger, my wife and I were out there in development work living and working in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, sometimes at difficult circumstances (at gunpoint and under floods as I have described in previous posts). We were taking risks and putting ourselves out there; we were already living in Level 4. Even now, every time I teach, I have decided that I have a successful day and leave a legacy when I am able to truly educate, enlighten and motivate one or two persons in the class of 30 to 40 people that day. For the rest, I am trying to fight for what I believe in, write that book and live a good life. Don't worry, I am not trying to show off, there are times that we all digress and there are times that I only live in Level 1 or 2.  But at least at times I have been up there and it sure feels nice up there.

So again, at what Level am I?  I really don't know, but I'll do my darnest to reach Level 5.  What Level are you and at what level will you be by the time you die?

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