Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Welcome to The Game

A few days ago, I failed once again at winning The Game.

For the uninitiated, the rules of The Game are simple:
- The point of The Game is to forget you are playing it.
- Knowledge of The Game implies participation. (Reading this entry grants you initiation to The Game.)
- Every time you remember you are playing The Game, you lose.
- You can never stop playing.

Over the years, I've started playing the game with almost all my friends, and as my world has expanded, I've joined in on other people's sessions of the ongoing Game.
The fact is there are no separate playings or different matches, everyone is either playing The Game or is yet to start playing.
It is optional to let other people know you just lost The Game (by remembering you're playing), thereby making them lose too. But I take that option as entirely mandatory.
Periodically throughout my life, I get texts, Facebook messages, even emails (I used to get AIMs and LiveJournal comments too) that would say simply, "I just lost the game."
It always takes me a moment. It always takes everyone a moment. But as soon as it hits you, it frustrates you. You were doing so well. You had moved on with your life. You had comfortably forgotten that The Game was going on constantly around you, because everything in life serves to distract you from The Game. And prior to this reminder, you were winning The Game.
Sometimes, it doesn't take a reminder. This last loss in fact, I was sitting in my room, meditating, and my mind wandered to somewhere far off when suddenly in my mind's eye I saw text that read, "The Game." And shit, was I mad.

I'm still in my "Loser" pit stop, as these past few days, all that's been on my mind has been The Game (meaning I can't reset my clock and begin a new "round.")
I figured I'd write about it now, while I've lost.

A lot of people are not good with games. Some people tend to avoid board games. Or card games. Or whatever. I remember classmates of mine sitting out of Keep-Away. No one wanted to end up being "It" for an extended period of time. The same happens now for me in improv, in a silly warm-up called Bippity-Bippity-Bop. No one wants to be the person in the middle of that circle for an extended period of time. It implies you are bad at the game.
But The Game requires no special skill. It involves only the human characteristic of forgetfulness, something that comes easily to us.
Is there any animal that forgets things, truly? I know we joke that some animals have short memory banks, but key to survival, no animal forgets vital information. I have to believe our sad tendency to forget things comes from a weakening in evolution. <------- Even this last sentence, I paused halfway through it to adjust myself in my chair and forgot the rest of the sentence I had originally wanted to write. A far more eloquent structuring of vocabulary, lost forever in the recesses of my mind.
I don't believe anything is truly ever forgotten. It's not a computer file, that you throw in the Recycling Bin and then empty that Recycling Bin and then a few years later your hard drive crashes so you lose any residual remainder of that file. Your brain holds on to everything. It's just that those connections stop working. Everything settles in a certain place forever, hidden behind certain protocols, be they feelings or songs or scents. Recovering them takes some effort. And most of the time it's not worth the effort. I don't need to remember the top 5 players amongst my friends the last time we went laser tagging, even though I could tell you that information the first three or four days after the trip.
There's just too much happening, and too much that's more important, to be holding on to every little thing. But your brain is a powerful thing. It doesn't run out of room.

But all that serves The Game really well.
Normally, these things would be considered obstacles, distractions, hindrances. But the point is to forget The Game. I'm never sure, but I have to imagine the turnaround for me normally is something like two days. I go right back into blissful ignorance after just 48 hours.

How I wish I was as good at forgetting other things. Painful things. Painful memories. How do those remain so immediately accessible? Why does the computer of my head insist that this folder remain open, running underneath all other programs: my event planner, my work calculator, my daydream generator, my improv engine?

There is something uniquely tragic about The Game.
The fact is, you can't celebrate winning The Game. You can never know that you won, and the game is never finished until there is a winner (or in this case, the least loser).
You will die, having won The Game, and never celebrate. The knowledge alone causes you to lose.
It is the personification of that looming awareness of something you know is there but you cannot acknowledge.

Welcome to The Game.