THE GAME OF LIFE

I always thought of life as a computer game. A giant, sprawling sandbox with a choice of ending before eventually, ‘GAME OVER’. Milestones to achieve, coins to collect and a depleting life bar to protect. Enemies to fight, decisions to make and puzzles to solve. But what if you’re not very good at playing it? Even worse; what if you don’t enjoy playing it anymore?

There isn’t a walk-through guide or any warp zones, which is a shame as I’d like to go back and play the beginning again or skip to the end depending on my mood. There are some cheat codes, e.g. theft, fraud etc. but I’ve always hated cheating. I’d rather fail by myself than win because of someone else. The game begins with an elaborate introduction and tutorial which teaches you the basics; such as how to eat and not go near fires etc. The first few levels are awesome and so easy too. It was really fun to play with so many rewards.

The most exciting part as I continued to play longer was gaining experience points and leveling up, which meant I was able to unlock greater sequential freedoms and the stories could branch off and lead me on various exciting side missions. The HD graphics are amazing and everything is in 3-D. So many beautiful colours. Most of the first end of level bosses were easy; normally teachers in tweed jackets with elbow pads who threw board rubbers at your head. They were easy to dodge.

When your avatar reaches adolescence and adulthood the game gets much trickier. All sorts of new enemies fill the screen and you can get easily confused about which direction you’re meant to go in. I took many, many wrong paths thinking that they were the right ones, but I kept coming back to where I’d started. The story arc for taking the wrong options is eventually losing all of your weapons and xp. Right now I’m low on currency but I have plenty of health packs.

The general gameplay is fun but a tad repetitive once you’ve put in about 30 years. Right now I’m roaming around the same town with my trusty canine sidekick. There’s a princess that I’m in love with but she doesn’t need rescuing. In fact she needs to rescue me. In the meantime I hope for some new exciting DLC to drop. Lots of the people I’ve met along the way want me to keep playing but it’s boring and I’m tired of it. I really wish I wasn’t because I haven’t completed it yet, and I love unlocking trophies and hate quitting.

I HAVE A DREAM

A young child would never dream of smoking a cigarette
A young child would never dream of drowning their sorrows
A young child would never dream of sorrows to begin with
A young child would never dream of cutting themselves
A young child would never dream of taking illegal substances
A young child would never dream of pain or religious dogma
A young child would never dream of caring what they look like
A young child would never dream of ending their own life
A young child would never dream of what they’re going to inherit from us
I dream of innocence.

VANTAGE POINT

Should there be any humanity left in 100 years, I thought it would be helpful to leave them with an insight of what it was like coming of age in the early part of the 21st century, so they are able to trace the seeds sown for the armageddon they barely survived. Look upon this as a time capsule if you will. I was born and raised in the dilapidated seaside town of Margate, Kent, top of the county’s list for social deprivation, poverty and lack of jobs. I was an average looking man, with a below average body and an above average IQ. Here’s how we used to live.

The advent of mobile phones / smartphones was the single biggest catalyst for a total breakdown in communication among our species and the beginning of the ‘Terminators’ you now know. All previous intimate ways of communicating began to erode at a rapid rate. As a child I would write letters using something called ‘pens’ and ‘paper’ to family, girlfriends etc. and believe it or not, but we used to talk to each other whilst in the same room! You probably have a Google / Facebook chip in your brains now but in the early days of Big Brother, we only used it to update our acquaintances with pictures of our meals and cats. This spiralled out of control when people began to conduct their personal relationships online whilst being in immediate proximity of each other. For example, a couple would be out for dinner in a restaurant yet both be on their phones providing real-time commentary on the delivery of their dishes. We stopped saying, “good morning,” or, “hello,” to one another in the street. We stopped visiting people because we could talk to them on ‘FaceTime’ without having to get up off the couch.

Phones also ruined countless relationships. Women would search their partners’ phones to find nude pictures of other women. Men would create false identities online in order to solicit sex or groom children. In this way people became dispensable to one another and impassive to each other. The proliferation of dating and swinger websites meant people stopped trying to repair broken relationships or work harder at personal growth. Instead they interchanged and swapped partners on a regular basis, which ultimately led to the breakdown of the nuclear family. Sorry for using the ‘n’ word there, bit insensitive of me!

Phones also allowed us to film ourselves doing dumb things which we could then share globally in an instant. This created an environment of one upmanship for who could do the best dumbest thing. My favourite was the guy who choked and died showing off to his mates he could eat a whole cheeseburger in one mouthful. People got dumb real quick.

Another trigger we initiated for you was abusing nature and polluting the environment with flagrant waste and disposal. The world was essentially split into two; half the world had too much food and the other half had none. You’d think the solution would be easy. But what did the half with too much do? They started ‘World Competitive Eating Championships’ and ‘Food Challenge’ websites. These tournaments would demonstrate how fortunate people could eat over 100 hot-dogs or chicken wings in 7 minutes, before puking it all back up. People would actually train their bodies to ingest several pounds of food, significantly more than was necessary to survive. But they weren’t all heartless and avaricious. When the starving people came knocking they would have charity bake sales or sit in a massive tub full of baked beans.

I think another contributing factor to your downfall came as a result of us having too much of everything; if you lived in certain societies of course. Consequences for actions were incrementally removed. We were unable to smack our children anymore when they misbehaved, so they began to misbehave more. This ultimately led to social unrest, lack of respect, compassion for others, empathy, morality and bad attitudes. Our levels of impatience grew exponentially as a result of excess. We introduced the 24/7 climate; you could get what you wanted, when you wanted, with money you hadn’t earned yet and if you owed too much and couldn’t pay, you could get another loan. We became accustomed to thinking everything should be done for us immediately. We realized that by becoming aggressive and violent we could get it done even faster. When I was a child I had a computer and a game took at least five minutes to load. I was perfectly happy with that. When I reached adulthood technology had become exceedingly more advanced, to the point where I would get irate at loading screens taking only seconds. The pace of change was far too rapid. Many older people felt left behind, overwhelmed or lacked confidence with technology. They were ostracized from communities and became their own little fraternity. This perpetrated even further division between the generations, which in turn corrupted the vital passing on of values and traditions.

Symptomatic of excess was boredom. We all had too much and so didn’t know what to do next or how to connect with the true potential of our species. Eventually everything became generic. Cars all looked the same. Songs all sounded the same. Even young women all looked the same. We’d run out of ideas, so in a panic, any new ones were not subjected to previous rigorous vetting. Literally anything went. Instead of allowing people to adjust to change and experience it, the next change or experience was already being thrust upon them. We had to start coming up with new shit. So people decided to change sex. Children as young as 5 years old were allowed to swap gender. Men would cut their penises off and wear wigs in their 60’s. Women started sucking their own sanitary towels for porn and men would fuck joints of pork or put their bell-ends in cups of maggots. Kids started decapitating cats and murdering their parents. We pushed back the frontiers of decency.

The final nail in your coffin was the habitual celebration of mediocrity and reward for failure. We flooded the lands with babies we could not afford to provide the resources for. Competition and ‘survival of the fittest’ was vanquished. Everyone became a ‘winner’, even if they came last; they were the ‘last winner’. Nobody had a sense of humbleness or constraint; everyone had a sense of entitlement. Therefore the cream stopped rising to the top. Standards in education steadily declined, class sizes got bigger and teachers quit. If one child had a severe allergic reaction to chocolate, then every pupil was banned from bringing chocolate to school. The gene pool got diluted. Innocence was repealed. Children were encouraged to ascertain adulthood much earlier and bought skimpy clothes to wear. Fame was allocated arbitrarily and pseudo celebrity embraced.

Perhaps I’m guilty of a little ‘free association’ but then I’m bitter about not having self-tying shoes, flying cars or hoverboards. So swings and roundabouts I suppose.

I READ THE NEWS TODAY OH BOY

Betting adverts, smoking, not smoking, running out of fags, insomnia, people dressed the same, rubbish in the gutter, graffiti on fences and walls, people using their phones whilst driving, a lack of ruthlessness, the sun on a TV screen, radio silence, room temperature coke, looking at photos of people no longer in your life and wishing they were, looking at photos of people you want in your life and wishing they were, fencing with your mind; fending off the noisy chatter, all the while knowing how your next 72 hours will play out exactly. I didn’t start the fire.

A DENIAL, A DENIAL, A DENIAL, A DENIAL, A DENIAL, A DENIAL, A DENIAL, A DENIAL, A DENIAL

You can take away my innocence, take away my meaning, obliterate my dreams, break my heart, damage my pride, destroy my ambition, kill my sense of adventure, preclude me, abuse me, ignore me, hate me, banish me, try to erase me, silence me, confuse me, prevent me, try to exorcise me, try to expunge me, steal my words, pollute my thoughts, live rent free, deny me, vanquish my aspiration, drain my energy, suffocate my growth, beat me, block me, poison me, judge me, dispense of me, reduce my pleasure, blacken my name, punish me for as long as you deem necessary, weaken my resolve, increase my fear and reduce my ego, but I guarantee you one thing…YOU WILL NEVER FORGET ME…for I will always live in your unconscious.

THE SHOW MUST GO ON

The struggle to find love and happiness continues for me unabated. They feel mutually exclusive. The older I get, the more I learn, and often I wonder if our species really is suitable for monogamy after all. Only a very small percentage of species on this planet settle down with a single mate. Most animals are polygamist. I’m a fool. I always aim high, way above my league, and kid myself I can succeed because I subscribe to the Disney / Hollywood theory that one day I will mean everything to someone. Of course there are people out there who know and feel they’re in loving, committed, future-proof relationship; but their numbers are rare. The much larger group, (larger than single people), are those who think they’re in love but have made concessions and compromises to avoid the irrational fear of singledom. You know what I mean; “He treats me really well and he’s great with the kids.” Subtext for, “He doesn’t make me wet, his personality is borderline dead and he can’t fuck me the way my ex did.” I know so many women who would make superb wives and mothers; so maybe it’s me?! How did I get to this point in my life alone? Why are most of my peers married and / or parents? Answer – I’ve only met 2 or 3 women in my entire life I would happily commit to monogamy for.

There’s different kinds of love aren’t there? But the love we all aspire to, crave and hope to experience is the intoxicating, elusive kind; like the blackcurrant ice at the top of a rocket ice lolly. That’s the real deal, where the good shit’s at; but it’s fleeting; it tapers off; you suck on it too hard and it’s over – far too quickly. Then what are you left with? Just masses of orange and lemon flavoured fish in the sea. I will not lose hope and I will never stop believing it can happen for me one last time; but time is against me. I’m running out of time but I refuse to trade-off for it; I refuse to enter into any relationship without 100% blackcurrant on my stick.

SUICIDE ISN’T PAINLESS (THE BALLAD OF YOU’RE NOT ALONE)

The weight of emptiness and prospective time left hits me every morning, usually right after eating breakfast and checking social media. It’s a crucial, fundamental crossroads all of us hit daily; what are we doing today? For those of you in the ‘rat-race’ this question is subliminal; you’re programmed by routine and necessity. We on the fringes watch from the outside and don’t like what we see, attempting to integrate ourselves like an unsure child at the bottom of an escalator trying to step on when it’s safe. Perhaps you never even ask yourself the question. The future I currently have mapped out is nothing much to shout about. If you consider yourself a ‘happy person’ then you’re just not thinking hard enough; and if you lack intelligence and the powers of critical thinking, then you’re the lucky ones because ignorance truly is bliss.

I am cursed with ‘thinking’. I think all the time, every day, and it gets bloody tiring. Constant head chatter, constant self-regulation and constant over-analyzing every tiny transaction. My head tells me social media is not a reflection of reality but my emotions always manage to circumvent that. I take it personally, as it really is the main way in which I interact with the world. I really can’t tell you why I care so much that I ‘matter’. It’s paradoxical because anyone who knows me properly will tell you I don’t like drawing attention to myself, yet I demand attention from behind a computer screen. My natural disposition is to hide away and keep my own company, yet something unfathomable drives me to reach out to people and feel connected. It’s this tug of war and attritional battle that wears me down to the point of futility and desolation.

I’m buoyed by the assertions of atheists that when I die I will have no consciousness. I will not remember a single thing; who I am, what I did or that I ever existed in the first place. This is comforting because it means none of the pain I’m feeling right now ultimately matters. Everything will be deleted and obsolete. No more inner turmoil, fear, anger, trepidation, procrastination or other variables; just black. So how long can I continue to walk between two worlds? The strongest factor in not crossing the divide prematurely is ambivalence; god damn ambivalence and also cowardice. I don’t even have the courage in my convictions to make a decision one way or the other, just remain afloat like human driftwood instead. “Something will turn up; something will happen.” And I don’t want to hear the tired cliche – “you can’t wait for something to come to you, you have to go out and make it happen.” I’m playing ‘adult’ in this game don’t worry; but I cant speed up a diploma or go out and grab a girl like a gypsy. Anyway my manic depression precludes this and my medication is tantamount to chemical castration. The upside to this however, is that I’m thinking more clearly about everything rather than just thinking with my dick. I haven’t made a single bad decision in well over a year because of them, but then again, I don’t know how I really feel behind them. All the typical urges and motivations I ever had are being suppressed so I drift in a sea of numbness.

So what’s the answer? Most will tell you that suicide isn’t the answer but they’d be wrong, even my own counsellor said suicide is an option. But it’s the ultimate and final solution for a temporary problem. Yet my problems are not temporary; here we go again – too much thinking. There has to be an answer that’s fair to me and my animals and family. The only temporary relief I can find is ‘distraction’. Being kept busy by someone or something pushes all the thinking back into in the shadows, but then we only get shadows where there is light, so what is right and what is wrong? How much is enough?

So if you’re feeling suicidal, have tried to commit suicide before or suffer from suicidal ideation, I just want you all to know…that I know.