Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Today we continue with our Fall Back Sale event and throw the spotlight on another great piece from vol. 6, no. 1 (on sale for $5.95!) with an excerpt from J. Nicholas Geist's wonderful gaming essay "Completion." Of course, it is about so much more. Hope you enjoy it.

Fight Night: Round 3

My roommate Jose shook his head at me as I held the power button down on my XBox. A Mills Lane lookalike loomed blurrily on my screen, and my TV's speakers shouted numbers at me -- 8...9...10. A bell. An announcer screamed out my loss to an imaginary crowd, before the hum of the console's fan clicked quiet and the announcer surrendered to silence.
"What?" I asked, a challenge in my voice.
"It's weird to me that you play like that," Jose said.
"Why?" I asked, as the fan whirred back into action, the pixels swimming back to life on the screen.
"Because. You lost. Why'd you start over?"
"Because. I lost. Why wouldn't I start over?"

We are at an impasse. We've had this conversation on more than one occasion, over more than one game. Tonight, it's Fight Night; last night, Madden NFL 06; tomorrow, who knows. That our differences on this matter are fundamental, however, does not mean that we'll stop talking about this. Ever.
"You're supposed to lose. It's supposed to be hard," Jose said.
"I know."
"So why restart?"
"Because otherwise the loss gets recorded."
"But that's exactly the point -- restarting doesn't mean it didn't happen."
"Yeah it does. It does for the game."
And so on, interminably, until the end of time.

If life were a game, I would restart the conversation each time, carefully crafting each word, judging the tone of my voice with a pitch pipe, tweaking and tweaking until Jose understood.

The Now Habit

Not long ago, I purchased Neil Fiore's The Now Habit. Since, I have preached its myriad glories to all who would listen, and several who would not. Fiore's slim volume -- purchased as a part of my ongoing quest to actually accomplish...well, anything, really -- reached deep to the core of my procrastination and throttled it like a snake in thick, unyielding fists. Sadly, the book lost interest and wandered off long before the thing was actually slain, and is currently buried somewhere under the Saharan drifts of unfinished (and, in some cases, unbegun) work that accrete on my desk. Which I've been meaning to clean up. (Upon these ironies I meditate like koans.)

Fiore suggests that procrastination is motivated primarily by fear of failure, and more specifically by perfectionism. It was somewhat discomforting to hear a man I'd never met describe my deepest flaws with incisive, unrelenting accuracy.
"You believe that even the smallest error could be evidence that you are a worthless and awful person," Fiore told me.
"That's not true," I said. "It would be evidence that I am a worthless and awful person."
"It is difficult for you to accept yourself as you are -- imperfect and human," he suggested.
"I accept that I'm imperfect," I said. "I simply avoid those areas in which I am not likely to succeed." Or, I suppose, I ignore them while they heap up on my desk.
"You feel any criticism, rejection, or judgment by others as a threat to your very tenuous grasp on perfection," he intimated.

I shifted my weight, as an alternative to answering. I shifted it again, to emphasize.

Fiore did not respond, because books are insensitive to the subtleties of weight-shifting.

To read the rest of "Completion" and to check out all the awesome fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, pick up a copy of vol. 6, no. 1 in our webstore. To get it for $5.95, choose, "sample copy, editor's choice" and enter "fall back sale" in the special instructions box.

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