I downloaded a bunch of games when I had the flu. I was worthless for reading and writing, so I watched endless Netflix shows and played on my phone – butt planted firmly in the recliner.
Of course, once I felt better, I quit playing those games.
I may still spend too much time with Candy Crush: Soda Saga.
I thought I’d play it for a while and then move on, but that didn’t happen. Each night, before bed, I find myself moving around candies, trying to “pop the bottles” and “save the bears.” I have thought, a few times, about how playing that kind of game is similar to revising my book. If I move this scene here, it changes everything over there, so now I have to come up with a new plan to fix that. And when I fix that, it changes where everything else is lined up, so now I have five new problems to solve.
It’s an easy metaphor.
Last night, however, something a little harsher hit me.
I was trying to beat level 102 for the 102nd time. Okay, probably the 402nd time, but that’s another blog post altogether. As I moved a candy and noticed I had only three moves left, I heard the prayer voice in my head saying something along the lines of, “Can I just beat this level?”
I felt like the biggest idiot that ever lived.
Was I really praying about Candy Crush?
And the want was real. I felt like I absolutely had to just beat that level. And a few moves later, I did beat it. Then, of course, it was onto level 103 and could I just beat THAT level, please?
I sat there feeling incredibly embarrassed by my own inner voice. With my phone off and the lights out, I drifted off the sleep not caring at all what level of Candy Crush I beat that night. So why did it feel so incredibly important in the moment? I’m guessing it has to do with brain chemistry. A challenge is set before me and I NEED to conquer it.
But how much of my life is Candy Crush-esque? How many things am I praying for, certain I need and want them, but they really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things?
What am I feeling desperate to have that I don’t need?
What challenge am I fighting to conquer that actually doesn’t need to be conquered?
Change is afoot in the life of myself and my family. Big changes and small ones stand before us. I have some definite opinions about how things should go, but are my opinions valid? Is what I want actually going to help me at all?
An example would be my desperation for publication. I want it so bad y’all. I want to see my book on a shelf next year, and so I want to conquer this revision right now. Right. This. Second.
But maybe this is just another level of Candy Crush: Writing Saga. I will eventually beat it, today or next week or next year, and then there will be another level ahead of me. I will beat the Book Deal level and move onto the Good Reviews level.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t take life’s challenges head on.
I’m saying we should step back and breathe and remember what matters.
Not Candy Crush or book deals, but living in the midst of the challenges, whatever they may be. Because getting my children to adulthood is a huge challenge, and I definitely want to successfully beat that one, but am I rushing it? Am I enjoying each move, each bit of strategy, or am I plowing through as fast as possible? Will I reach my youngest child’s wedding day and sit on the front row completely unaware of how I got there?
It could happen.
After all, I’ve beat 102 levels of Candy Crush, but I can’t tell you which level held what challenges. I can’t tell you which were the most fun.
I saved the bears, but I don’t know a blasted thing about them.
“Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?” – Mary Oliver
*originally published on Middle Places