Originally, this blog post was going to be about The Witness, Jonathan’s Blow’s excellent “Mazes without Borders” simulator, which has been merciless, punishing, and one of the most wonderfully designed games I’ve ever experienced. However, so punishing is it that I still haven’t finished it, plus I want a chance to complete and digest the game as an experience before sharing my thoughts on it (spoiler: there will be many). Look forward to that next week.
Instead, I’m going to change the subject from playing video games to talk about selfishness (guess not that big a change in subject, waka waka waka).
It’s hard not to feel selfish when people are doing for you all day while you’re out of commission. All week, I’ve been barely capable of moving more than my thumbs while my wife, Zack, and other friends and family handle the heavy lifting, providing for my every need. It sounds like a good setup, but in truth, it’s the last thing I want. I don’t want to be carried. I’d rather walk on my own. Unfortunately, I can’t manage much more than a crawl, so until I’m able to lift myself off the couch it’s back to that goddamn ship puzzle in The Witness (update: I FUCKING GOT IT!!!!).
I miss working. More specifically, I yearn for a return to the romantic days of freelance writing. Sailing the open seas of jobs and stories, in search of adventure, fame, and fortune. But in truth, those prospects, though my goals, have always meant little to me. I became a writer in the pursuit of pure artistic expression. Scripts and stories take so much time and energy; if I’m going to do it, I want them to matter. And if to no one else, than I want them to matter to me.
I recently took it upon myself to re-evaluate what I’m doing with my career, perhaps hoping to remove my creative pursuits from behind the wheel and let them play a bit in the backseat. And coincidentally, my body chose that moment to give out. How. Fucking. Weird. There’s a part of me that truly believes that I opted to get sick as a way to delay that choice. It, like me, is selfish.
Once again, that word rears its ugly head. But the only thing ugly about it is how I use it. Truthfully, the only person who called what I did selfish was me (well, to my face). I am the only person to use such a term for myself. My faithful friends and family, God bless them, never called it that. They called my choice to write brave. I was never able to see it that way. Still don’t.
Because it wasn’t a choice. It just feels like a need. A calling. Something I have to do. Even now, more stories brew in the cauldron of my soul, spells waiting to be cast. Some of them you’ll hear about one day. Some, maybe never. And some, Zack and I are chomping at the bit to tell you about, and we will any day now…
So why am I talking about this right now? Well, this cold has weakened me to such a point that my filter has come flying off. But really, it comes back to that wonderful wonderful word – selfishness, and how it applies to today’s strip.
From prewriting to posting online, Unlife helps me reflect on the stories I want to tell. On what is important to me. A while back, some people accused me of using this blog space as a soapbox. I hate to break it to you, but this whole comic is a soapbox for Zack and me. If we’re gonna work this hard on something, it’s going to reflect our abilities, our beliefs, and everything else in between. And you can call that selfish, and I wouldn’t disagree with you.
What I would disagree on is that selfishness is a solely negative characteristic.
In fact, the people I would call selfish in this strip wouldn’t be the members of Mercy’s Kill. Don’t get me wrong – they’re awful people in their own right. I would call them cowards. But I would not call them selfish. They do not take what they want. They inflict what they want on others. They share their beliefs and their time. They share their hatred and their fear.
I believe the selfish people are the ones who put it all on the line. They risk their morals, their shame, their desires, even their lives. All for that unsure thing, that belief that calls to them without reason or logic. For a thing that means nothing to others but something to them. Some people would call Jenners and Stacy selfish.
But that’s not the word I would use.