The Ship of Peacockeus

Talking to a gamer and game critic friend of mine, Evan, I began to realize that I'm getting old.

He was asking if I was excited for E3. My response: "Meh." He asked if I was excited about the ESPN + Microsoft deal, where games will be streamed over the 360. My response: "Huh?" I had to explain to him that I just don't keep up with gaming news anymore -- which is pretty strange, considering I've spent the last 20 or so years being a hardcore gamer who saw E3 the same way I saw Christmas when I was seven.

Along with things like taking longer to recover from hard workouts, starting to like things like "Greek Style Yogurt," not eating fast food, seeing grey hairs, and other tell-tale signs that your body's on a non-stop journey toward ruin, there's a number of changes I've made that have basically started ushering me toward the "old fogey" corral in the social demographic theme park.

The gaming thing, for one. Take Red Dead Redemption for example. I liked it a lot - I loved the story, I loved the gameplay. And when I sat longer than, say, 2 hours playing it, I began to fidget. There were two nights in particular where I forced myself to play longer than 2 or 3 hours, based solely on the fact that my entire identity as a "hardcore gamer" was at stake if I didn't put in a ton of hours to get to the end of this game. And when I reached the end of it (which took two and a half weeks, whereas in days of old, I'd be through it in a day or two), I took it out of the Xbox and haven't touched it since.

I still enjoy gaming. What I don't enjoy is the thought that there's other stuff I should be doing while I'm playing a game. And those thoughts don't really set in until right at the two hour mark - two hours is about the max I'm willing to spend doing any one thing that isn't considered productive. And if I do go over that two hour mark, it ends up eating into sleep time, as I am no longer capable of pushing things off until another day (things that matter, anyway).

I'm old.

As you get older you begin to realize you have far too many hoses from far too many sources filling your attention pool, and you're constantly having to turn them off or drain the pool. So, you eventually begin eliminating hoses. I've eliminated quite a few of them, one of them being any and all "industry news" about gaming, tech, etc. A few others: 24 hour news, watching sports as my main activity (I will keep them on in the background now), any and all discussion regarding religion or politics (the only two things I can think of that rank above gaming in terms of "completely useless wastes of time"), IRC and other general chat activities.

It's not that I don't like these things. I still like them a lot. I just don't feel comfortable anymore doing any of them for protracted periods of time. And that's where the whole identity crisis begins to play in my head - these are the things that made me "me" in my eyes. The things I most enjoyed, the things I filled my time with. These days, what I fill my time with is different. It's no less enjoyable; I love writing, I love researching topics for articles and essays, I love working out. But even my workouts are completely different than they were years ago. These days, I don't even lift weights on the main floor. I have completely shifted to a "fitness" oriented regimen and can't even tell you the last time I did a real bench press. Or, the last time I listened to Slayer, for that matter.

And therein lies the eternal issue that far greater men than me have pondered - am I the same guy, and will I be by the time I die? It's the Ship of Theseus puzzle, and it goes like this:
Over the years, the Athenians replaced each plank in the original ship of Theseus as it decayed, thereby keeping it in good repair. Eventually, there was not a single plank left of the original ship. So, did the Athenians still have one and the same ship that used to belong to Theseus?

As I get older, I start to see pieces of me in disrepair, so I replace them. I change them. I mold and shape them. And now, at 33, I like to think of myself as being the same guy I was at 18, at least at my core. But if you compare the actual time spent doing things between the two ages, the production value of those things, the level of interest... I'm not. None of us are. We change, we adapt, we grow.

At what point are we no longer who we were? Do our interests define us, or is there something much deeper driving those interests which persists our entire lives? And what happens when THAT thing changes?

Bah, too much thinking. I think I'll go play some Xbox. See you in 2 hours.