It’s not alcohol, I don’t drink alcohol; you can read about the benefits of quitting alcohol here. It’s not nicotine or any other drug. It’s not sex, it’s certainly not gambling, it’s not watching porn on the internet.
It’s playing a dinosaur of a game, a game from the antiquity of gaming, the 1991 dos game Civilization. Yup, I don’t own any other video game. I never bought this one either, oldtimers like these you can download on the internet. It takes only a meager 2,4 MB of space on your computer. It has crappy graphics, the gameplay is sort of cumbersome, it goes slow at times, but I’m as addicted to it as a junkie scoring for smack on the street.
It gets better. Or I like to think it gets better. I know very well this addiction has the potential to smash all my potential and set me back for years. Video gaming got me to perform a lot less well than I could have in high school and in my fourth year of college, when I suddenly relapsed after years of being clean. I know this, yet my mind comes up with a little trick to entice me to play anyway. The game is fairly easy, it doesn’t absorb you 100 percent, perhaps because the graphics are so simple. So the resistance, the thing in you that will try everything it can to prevent you from doing anything that requires discipline, tells me, you know what: if you play this game while you are listening to high quality documentaries or interviews on the internet, it’s really not that bad. The game is so simple that it allows me to have two screens open on my computer, one the game, one a docu or a series like In Treatment, I was always looking for something to learn.
If I had merely played the game without listening to something interesting, something I thought added value to my life, I wouldn’t have played the game so often, I am sure. But oh, the resistance is smart. Watch an interview on London Real, listen to a speech by some succesful hotshot on YouTube, watch a docu about the second world war, it will give you stuff to work into a novel. When I ran out of English and American docu’s on WWII, I turned to German ones, when I ran out of those, I turned to Russian ones, then to French and eventually to Czech. Often they were the same docu’s, but dubbed in a different language. The resistance told me: this is great for your language skills! And am sure it is, but absorbing knowledge is really not the same as working and getting stuff done. I can tell you that after years of being addicted to this game. There used to be another game, about as old as Civ, called No Greater Glory, but after years of exhausting every possibility there, I finally, to my No Greater Relief, got tired of it. I also gave away all my other games to a friend to hide them from me. So I’m down to just this one. And it’s been a bitch. I think it’s also in part due to fact the game reminds me of days free of worry during my childhood, when me and my best friend would play a demo version of this game. Now I finally have the full version, all 2,4 MB of it, baby, yessss!!
To cut a long story short, I have to quit. I read a little over 40 books a year, but without this game I could have easily doubled that. I could have finished 3 plays a year instead of one, and I could have done a lot better at promoting it, I could have actively practiced my languages skills instead of just passively listening to foreign languages. Ah, there’s so much stuff I could have done without this addiction. So today I make public pledge to you: I am quitting this game. Today. Ow God, I’m already feeling physical withdrawal symptoms, I’m not kidding you. I just hope the public shame of having to confess I relapsed will give me an edge.
What’s your addiction? What’s a huge time sink you want to get rid of? How does the resistance trick you in to not doing your work?
Have an authentic day!
PS the Resistance is a concept by Steven Pressfield, author of the War of Art, Do the work, and several great novels, such as Gates of Fire. If you find yourself procrastinating, I really recommend his books. They won’t magically stop you from procrastinating, but it will give you insight and a better chance at getting down to business.