Mourning the “new normal”.
Back in the days when I bowled in a league and, frankly, back when people actually scored on paper with pencils, players on our team used to occasionally draw a black bar after a frame on their row of the scorecard; this would indicate where some significant change was taking place. It could be switching balls or adjusting technique but seemed to most often just denote that this was the point where they determined that they would increase focus and concentration. (The unwritten rules seemed to be that nobody said exactly what the bar meant to them, and that one did not use more than one per game, preferably no more than one per series/night.)
I was thinking back to this because the idea remains affixed in my mind, and I sometimes would conceptually draw a bar after an event or a period that was less than satisfactory for me, for whatever reason. Well, the last nearly five years have been far less than satisfactory to me, and I have come to realize that this is going to be the default situation going forward, so I am mentally, and publicly, drawing a bar under this period of my life. This is less disruptive than yielding to the impulse to burn my old life to the ground, and less painful (but also less immediate) than having Cher slap me twice in the face and scream, “Snap out of it!” 🙂 (Moonstruck, 1987)
Clearly, my mourning for my wife is not going to end anytime soon. It is not that I have not been getting development done during this tough period; I have been fairly productive. In fact, despite a difficult start to the year, I have already completed all my client goals for 2023, made significant inroads into our company product goals, and have a clear vision moving forward. Apparently, I have also been putting on a brave face, such that a friend recently described me as “a happy person”, which is definitely not how I actually feel.
What is going to change is my attitude. I will continue to push forward, but no longer with the false expectation that I will ever recover from the trauma. In the original spirit of the black bar, I am going to try to increase my focus and concentration, pursuing my game development goals without apology or justification. I will endeavor to entertain and educate those who are interested in what I do, but I intend to be, ultimately, only accountable to myself. I will use my intimate knowledge of mortality as a motivation to get things done.
I went to a small industry event in Chicago last week, the first such event I had attended since the pandemic, and it was refreshing and revitalizing. I did a little bit of networking, and I met a number of indie game developers, and they helped put things into perspective. Not only were they facing similar issues to me (sans the death of a soulmate), but many, if not most, were desperate to complete a game, whereas I have dozens under my belt. When I showed somebody one of my released games on my phone, they (earnestly) responded, “Cool!” Nobody there looked down on casual games nor the fact that is (in part) what I enjoy making.
Thus, be it resolved, I am going full steam ahead to make games that I want to make, to support and educate others who want to pursue their game development dreams, to disdain the naysayers, and to thrive in my chosen field so that I can live the kind of life that I want to live for as long as I am privileged to live it. 👍