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Zen and the Art of Playing Hollow Knight

Not to get excessively sentimental or philosophical, but I had a rather profound epiphany today—triggered by, of all things, a video game.

Recently, I’ve been obsessed with Hollow Knight’s boss rush mode, playing almost every night after work—often while so thoroughly exhausted that I can barely keep my eyes open, resulting in many humiliating defeats. And yet… I’ve noticed that I tend to do significantly better when I’m not actually trying to win—or, at least, not trying very hard. Which led to a sobering realization: my previous failures were the result of obsessing over the idea of victory; because I was concentrating so heavily on my end goal, I wasn’t paying nearly enough attention to what I was doing in the moment. Additionally, every minor mistake made me increasingly more nervous—and, consequently, more sloppy. Ironically, I enjoyed greater success when I picked up the controller without any expectation (or, indeed, intention) of “winning.”

I’m going to make an effort to apply this lesson to my everyday life. Especially on the job, which has been extremely stressful lately…

[Originally written August 29, 2019.]

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