I kill a lot of time on my phone. I kill time on my phone that I don’t have time to kill. Time that could be and perhaps should be spent elsewhere, I spend on my phone. Considering time is one of life’s most precious commodities, and once spent can never be taken back, it should give me pause that I want to kill so much of it. That’s something for another piece. This piece is about my phone. Part of what I like about my phone is that it doesn’t talk back. It doesn’t talk unless I tell it to. If you’re a friend if mine, you’ll often wish I behaved as well as my phone does. I don’t but I can learn from it. I can learn from my phone. Indeed, sometimes I do.
One of the many time consuming phone adventures of mine is a game. It’s one of the few games I play. It’s a rather popular game where I’m asked to create a base, defend that base and attack other bases. That I can join other people doing the same thing and work as a team and as a unit in battling other bases should be a pleasant and entertaining experience. Most of the time it is but that’s not all it is. It’s a source of frequent frustration and aggravation. I often have to tell myself “it’s only a game” because while I’m in it, busy thinking about the future and worrying about what will or won’t be, it’s maddening and I’m mad.
I let small things ruffle my feathers: should I upgrade this canon or should I invest in this barracks?
I let people I barely know annoy me: why isn’t he attacking this base, the one that he can beat, instead of attacking that base, the one that he can’t?
I let personality differences trump principles: how dare he not say “please”? If he’s not going to respect me, I’m not going to respect him, etc..
In other words, I can be petty, just like in life.
By nature, I’m a control freak. I want everyone to do as I say. Don’t they realize, if they did, everyone including them would be happy? If only people would behave as I wanted them to, this world would be a better place. However, while I love to control others I hate to be controlled myself. How dare he tell me what to do? I believe I know what’s best for me when clearly I don’t. My life runs much better when I listen to the counsel and correction of others.
This past weekend, playing my game, I was pulling my hair out. People, whom I have no control over, weren’t doing as I wanted them to. As a result, our clan was losing a day long battle. Rather than bitch and complain, I reminded myself “it’s only a game.” I decided the best thing to do was go to bed. I did. When I woke up, expecting the worst, I discovered something much different. We were winning. We were beating a stronger team. We were doing better than I expected and we were doing it without my needling. While momentarily pleased, my head went someplace else. My head went to “what if I’m not needed?” It occurred to me that the reason I kill time playing this game is because when I do, I feel “a part of.” I feel like I belong. I know what’s expected of me and others know what I expect of them. I contribute. I give to others. I receive. I get from others. I delegate. I ask others to do what I can’t do myself and when they deliver, I think I’ve done myself in.
To quote a friend of mine: “Games are always about life. That’s why people play them.” This game I play is no different. This game is a microcosm of my life. The same frustrations I have in a game, I have in life. I get afraid. I get uncomfortable. I want to control. I want to need others and I want others to need me. Not only on a small level does this game do this, it does something on a much bigger level…It reminds me that my issues in playing the game have nothing to do with the game itself. Instead, these issues are my issues in life, issues like indecision, control and ego. There is a lesson in this and a value beyond the benefit of time killing entertainment. There is an opportunity to pause, exhale and say rather than “it’s only a game”, “it’s my life”…one where I do better and is much more worth living when I let go of my fears, my need to control and my pride. If I can go to bed and wake up to pleasant surprise in a game, maybe I can in life. Maybe this way I kill time is a way for me to put practical lessons to good use: “Let go. Don’t control. Trust others. Live and let live. Do your best. And remember, if it works in a Petri dish called Clash of Clans, maybe it will work elsewhere. In the meantime, Peter, breathe and remember ‘it’s not only a game, it’s your life.'”