Don’t worry. As previously established, I’m exceptionally reliable and trustworthy. I will not allow anything to happen at all due to my inevitable bad decisions.
Years ago I played the “Not Game” called “Loneliness.” Last week on a whim I played it a second time, and I was surprised at how differently I responded to it.
If you’re not familiar with it, “Loneliness” is a flash microgame. It takes around 3 minutes to play through start to finish, and you play it using the arrow keys on your keyboard. If you’d like to get your own experience of it before you read the rest of this blog, you can play it by going here.
I’ll give you a moment.
Back? Welcome back! Okay, rest of blog.
So when I first played that, many, many years ago, I got defiant very quickly. I was hesitant to approach any dot at first, and when they scattered from me on my initial attempts I soon became resentful. After just a few tries to reach the other dots, I concluded that I didn’t need those other stupid squares. I’d just go my own way. I stopped making any attempt to connect. As a result, I had no idea whether or not it was even possible to make contact. I never bothered to try after those initial hesitant overtures. It was just an angry straight line, full speed ahead.
When I loaded it recently, I initially thought, “Yeah, why not, let’s see if I can catch them!” I went full throttle on the arrow keys. Still, the dots scattered, but this time I didn’t see it as a rejection. I actually thought it looked kinda lovely, like a blooming flower. So I kept moving, a little crazily at times, towards different groups. Then I tried seeing if I could guide how the scatter happened. It became a dance, like we were working in tandem for an effect. I felt oddly connected to the other dots. At times, they scattered so quickly and I moved so oddly that we did actually intersect, cross, and overlap. The dots would drift again later, but it felt true to life. People come together, connect, and drift apart sometimes. Sometimes forever, but not always, and those separations don’t have to be negative.
One could argue, I’m sure, that having played it once, I was guaranteed to have a different outcome because my understanding of the outcomes was changed. At the same time, I’d never attempted to connect before, so I was going into that situation completely unsure if making the attempt each time would make a difference.
I learned later that Cory had also played “Loneliness” once. He always tried to connect. Every single time. He never gave up on the chance that maybe, this time, the outcome might be different.
It’s very interesting to me how such a simple little game can act as a mirror. In every case, the person playing (Cory or I) projected a narrative onto some dots on a screen. We had an emotional reaction. The first time I played, I was angry and resentful. The second time, I found it beautiful and even a little moving. So much has changed in my life over these past few years. I’m so much happier now than I used to be. I still have anxiety and depression, but I’m no longer doing a job I hate. I’m no longer connected to people that undermine my sense of self. I’ve pursued my passion and improved my craft. I’ve formed connections with people that build me up, support me, and accept me.
When I look in a mirror like “Loneliness” these days, I’m much happier with the person I see looking back.
What was your reaction to the game? What other kinds of mirrors have you discovered in your life?