Not to long ago I broke my strong streak of writing a blog post every day. I took about a week off, and didn’t write anything. At all.
I was playing Minecraft.
If you’ve never played it, Minecraft is a spectacular game. It has some pretty stunning landscapes, great mechanics, and an open formant that allows for all manner of complexity and creativity, or even simple adventure. And environmentalists take note: resources are scares and must be managed effectively, and renewable resources such as food sources must be managed and maintained. It even allows for multiplayer options where players can help or hinder your activities.
And they just put in horses!
Now, I’m not just plugging Minecraft here. A point will emerge, I promise.
Meditation is not something I’m good at. At least not what most people think of as meditation. If I sit quietly with my eyes closed and focus on my breathing, I will fall asleep. I need to be in motion and doing something. If I want to focus my mind and access hidden potential or creativity or whatever else meditation is supposed to accomplish, then I need a repetitive activity that I don’t have to pay much attention to. Washing dishes is a big one, or cleaning the bathroom. Driving long stretches on the highway works.
And so does Minecraft.
For you non-video gamers out there, there is a term known as “grinding.” This is when you need to collect a large amount or resources, usually experience points, and so you engage in endless, monotonous hours of activity to build your resources up. In Final Fantasy, this often means wandering in circles fighting low level monsters until you reach the experience levels you want. In Minecraft, it can mean digging deep in your mine for hours looking for the right kind of ores to finish whatever project you’re working on.
This means that I have an activity that is 1) Recreational; 2) Creative; and 3) Can put me in a meditative state.
I’ve had a bit going on in my personal life. I’ve moved back home with my parents, fleeing a city where I was fired from a pretty decent job. I’ve been struggling with crushing student loan debt and the fact that even if I did manage to return to school, I wasn’t sure what path to take. I’m putting on weight and slacking in my magical practice. I had that whole “what do I do with my life because I’m feeling lost and directionless” crap that I should have finished at my Saturn return. And I’m still working through the breakup of a six-year relationship.
A lot of this came to a head at Heartland. And like any good magical experience, it is taking me several weeks to process it.
And this is where my week-long Minecraft binge comes into play.
Sometimes the best way to think about something is to not think about it. Sometimes we need to take a break from something important in order to come back with a fresh perspective. Sometimes we think best about something when we’re not consciously focusing on it. Sometimes making connections in a mundane activity will inspire creative connections that apply to something else.
Sometimes you have to stop everything to process what you’ve been working on. Like a streaming video that has to stop to buffer. And sometimes this works best when the resources you’ve been dedicating to your work are taken completely offline and you do something pointless and fun.
This must be the lesson I missed by skipping out on law school and drinking to excess.