Wanting To Escape

I’ve been thinking a bit about why my night of checking out earlier this week was so effective in helping me relax and recharge. After all, I spent the evening playing video games; isn’t that a “bad” thing to do? Isn’t that a “waste” of my time? Does the fact that I was that desperate to play video games speak to some unhealthy habit on my part?

I’ve touched on this before, but I have an odd relationship with video games. I really enjoy them, but growing up they were framed to me as an inconsequential pastime, something to be experienced in small doses so they didn’t interfere with more worthy pursuits. And I think I internalized the whole “games don’t have many redeeming qualities” thing a little too well, so there’s a part of me that always feels a little guilty indulging in one of my big hobbies.

But the more I think about it, I think my break earlier this week was less about playing video games and more about escaping. Video games, in addition to letting us feel a sense of accomplishment, also provide us with an alternate world to experience and enjoy, in the same way that fiction books, television, and movies do. And I think that’s more what I needed: an escape, a break from the day-to-day world that had been demanding a level of engagement that was starting to break me down.

I also think that there was a slightly more petulant reason behind my night off: not having been able to sit down and play video games for a while. Remember back to when you were a young kid (or your last dealings with a child). What was the best way to get you to want to do something? That’s right, telling you you couldn’t. Suddenly, that thing you were only slightly interested in became a much bigger thing because it was verboten. Want a cookie? Well, not that you can’t have one, you really want it. Can’t play with that toy? Well, it might as well be the end of the world.

So I think my need for a video game binge resulted from a number of factors. One, I was running very low on spoons. Two, I needed to escape from the inconvenient reality of normal life for a while. And three, I wanted to play video games because I hadn’t been able to. Luckily I got some time in, and I’m feeling much better. And I also don’t have to do much this weekend, so that should help even more. Plus, next week is a short week because of the Turkey Day celebrations. So if everything goes well, I might have enough mental energy to successfully navigate the holiday festivities. And that’s a good thing.