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Super Mario Bros. – Moving Forward

Super Mario Bros. on the NES has a one way screen scroll, forcing the player to always move forward, never backward. At the same time, you have a timer ticking down, threatening to end Mario’s life. Or Luigi’s life – let’s show the oft-forgotten brother some love (that’s a lesson in itself).

As a player controlling Mario, when you move forward, the screen scrolls and locks on where you are. There’s no going back. If you want to save the princess, you have to continue forward. If you stay still and don’t take action, the timer keeps ticking down until, eventually, Mario dies. The timer is indifferent – it’s there as a reminder that you have a limited amount of time. Nothing more, nothing less. If you choose to not take action, move forward, and overcome the obstacles before you, then Mario dies.

Life is kind of like that. We’re here on the Earth for a limited amount of time, with an invisible timer ticking down our seconds. While the timer is ticking down, our lives are moving forward. There’s a caveat to that though.

In every moment of life, we have a choice. We can choose to either stay where we are or move forward. We can choose to let our circumstances paralyze us with fear or we can choose to overcome our circumstances and push through them. We can choose to be inactive before the obstacles ahead of us or take action and rise above those obstacles. In any and all of these situations and choices, the timer doesn’t care.

All the while, as the timer on our lives is ticking down, the timeline is moving forward. Who you were ten years ago isn’t who you are today. The relationships you had five years ago aren’t the same as they are today, even if they’re with the same people. The past is done and over and you can’t go back there. It’s one thing to learn from the past, but it’s an entirely different thing, and potentially dangerous, to dwell on it. Dwelling on the past will stop you from moving forward.

It’s good to learn from the past, but don’t live there. Living in the past breeds regret. Living in the present and choosing to move forward gives rise to hope and possibilities. Don’t allow the timer to tick down without moving toward your goals. Face your fears and obstacles, take action, and move forward.

Minecraft – Building a Life from Nothing

When you start survival mode in Minecraft, you’re dropped into the world with absolutely no direction or instructions. Unless you find a written guide or someone teaches you what to do, then you’re on your own as far as figuring the world out. You start with absolutely nothing. Welcome to Minecraft. Good luck.

When you start survival mode on Earth, you’re born into the world with absolutely no direction or instructions. Unless you learn how to read and find a written guide or someone teaches you what to do, then you’re on your own as far as figuring the world out. You start with absolutely nothing. Welcome to Earth. Good luck.

Minecraft and the real world have a lot of similarities. Obviously, I’m not talking about zombies and creepers (although some parallels could be drawn there). In Minecraft, you’re dropped in a world with no idea what to do. In the real world, you’re born in with no direction and completely reliant on someone else teaching you the basics of survival (at a minimum) until you’re old enough to take care of yourself. In both cases, you start with nothing.

In Minecraft, the early moments and days are filled with figuring out how things work. In the real world, our early years are filled with exploring the world around us and discovering how things work. In both cases, the discovery and learning process is much easier with help from others. Lucky for humanity, we start out with parents (or some sort of parental figure) that help guide us and teach us.

Moving past childhood, the parallels are still almost the same. In Minecraft, after we figure out the basics of the game, we spend a lot of time figuring out what we want to do next. What kind of house do I want to build? Do I want to make art? Maybe build some crazy structure? Am I ready to take on The Nether or The End? Do I go solo? Should I wait and take along some friends?

As adults, we tend to spend a lot of time figuring out what we’re “supposed” to be doing. We spend a lot of time asking questions of ourselves and the world around us. What is my purpose in life? What fulfills me? What kind of career do I want? What kind of family do I want? What are my values? What are my dreams and goals? What do I do now?

In both cases, the decisions and possibilities are endless. And that’s the beauty of it all. Generally speaking, you start with a blank slate. Yes, in the real world, some people have better starting conditions than others, but it’s never about those conditions. It’s all about the journey and what you make with what you have.

In Minecraft, you make the most of the journey by building better houses or fortresses, building up farms, getting stronger materials and equipment, making art, teaming up with others, exploring the world – the list could go on.

In the real world, you make the most of the journey in much the same way you do in Minecraft. You build or buy a house. You explore the world, whether that’s your neighborhood or the other side of the world. You create whatever you’re able to – art, music, apps, food, vehicles, etc. You learn from, work with, and teach others. You practice your given trade and become better at it. This list could also go on indefinitely.

Life, in Minecraft and the real world, is all about the journey. You may start with nothing, but you don’t have to stay with nothing. Minecraft and the real world are both filled with all the resources you need from the start. In Minecraft, those are the raw resources the world is built from, drops from monsters, or items found in chests. In the real world, those resources could be raw materials, the teachings and wisdom of those further than you, relationships with others, and so much more. It’s up to you what you do with those resources.

In Minecraft, the crazy structures and artistic visions are best shared with others. Sure, you can do everything solo, but the sense of accomplishment and wonder is far better (and takes far less time to build) when you involve others. Sharing the journey with others will lead to experiences you wouldn’t have otherwise had. Life in the real world is the same. Life is meant to be shared with others. If you create something that is used or experienced by even one other person, there is meaning and purpose to it. A road trip or vacation with family or a group of friends is far more fulfilling and enjoyable than one that’s alone. And if something goes wrong, you have others to help you out – you’re not alone trying to fix something you may not be able to.

Everyone starts with nothing. Everyone is trying to figure out their lives. Everyone is trying to understand how to interact with the world around them. Make the most of your life. Use what’s available. Help others along the way and be open to receiving help. Embrace the journey and build a life of fulfillment.

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