Rage Against The Machine:

My struggle for control of my life

I’m going to take a moment to wax philosophical about myself. It will be pretentious, arrogant, and meaningless. There are tens of thousands of Melee players in the world. My personal self is not important in relation to the larger picture. At least that is how I perceive it. Yet, I’m here and I have a platform. Let’s use it to stroke my engorged ego.

Life is hard. Not hard in the way where bad shit happens and you’re stuck with the pieces of a puzzle that don’t quite fit. I suppose that is a symptom of it. Life is hard because it’s a constant battle for control. What that control is tends to change from person to person. As Eurythmics put it, “Some of them want to use/abuse you. Some of them want to be used/abused.” Whole discourses have been had on the differences of people’s goals. I’m not well versed on the more academic side of the discussion. I just know what I want and why I want it.

Control is not something I’ve had over my life for a long while. The past year has made me feel a beggar in my own life. Going from point A to point B has become a hassle by asking for rides. Money leaves as soon as it comes in. My career has stagnated in dead-end loops of corporate ladders. Little to no control over my choices and direction. Before that, I had no idea what my direction was at all. College life had me spinning through loops of indecision. Did I engage in politics, the sciences, creative pursuits, etc.? Before that was the crushing existence of small town public schooling and a broken family life. I can’t remember a time where I felt I was in full control of where I was going, or how to get there.

Then along came Super Smash Bros. Melee. Looking back, it seemed natural that I would fall into such a competitive game. At the time, it was a whim. After playing a few college tournaments, I wanted to try the larger Upstate New York scene. This was one of the few summers where I had a pretty penny to spend, a car to drive, and free time aplenty. I found the closest tournament two hours away. Having family in the hosting town, I decided to spend a weekend there. The concept of paying to play a videogame for a day confused them. Why drive two hours and pay $15 to hit buttons for a while? They couldn’t understand that I wanted to do it just to do it.

The tournament came and I was knocked out with the traditional newbie 0-2. My family took it as a sign that this sort of thing was not meant for me. “You paid to lose” seemed to be what they held onto. Yet, they missed what I saw. I drove two hours to do this. I paid with my money. I hit the buttons. I lost. Me. Not my parents. Not my friends. Not my roommates, teachers, manager, or anybody else. I did it. This was a series of choices I made. It was control over something in my life. Even in the game, the decisions I made led to the outcome of the matches. I didn’t lose because I rolled bad dice. I lost because I made the wrong choices in the match. Nobody else could say they did it for me.

That summer, I went to every tournament I could. The drives ranged from an hour to four. I fought, learned, relearned, shouted, cried, laughed, and fought again. I had control over my life and where I wanted to take it. It wasn’t long before I was looking further beyond Upstate. I wanted to go as far as I could and play as much as possible. I wanted, and still want, to reach the pinnacle of Melee. Nothing was going to stop me from this, and nothing will.

Yet, life is hard. Soon, my job was gone, and the money with it. Scraping a lower job, I was lucky to make it to work and back. My car lost a headlight, and I couldn’t even afford a replacement. Ticket after ticket was laid on me, further draining the empty account I had grown used to seeing. After struggling with the decision, I made my way to Utah to live with family. I gave up my car, my $1300 PC, and my personal library to make the trip. While pulling myself out of the financial hole I dug myself into, I found myself losing the opportunity to even attend tournaments. Gaining a night job left me working during local tournaments. Living rent free meant I had to make payments in other methods. Living under the rules of someone else turned into a struggle between my need to shape my path and conform to another’s standard. I gained a car, only to lose it in an accident three weeks after. I negotiated with my work to give me a day off for tournaments. Yet, I have to ask for a ride there and back. I have to dance around the expectations of a family that gets only a few hours with me a week. I picked up a second job, only to find that both fight for my loyalty away from Melee. I’ve fixed my financial problems, and thrown myself into other issues.

I’ve found the direction I want to go. Now, I’m blocked on every opportunity by obstacles that take time that is wasting. I feel trapped, as any headstrong young man in my situation would. I don’t have my life going where I want it to, and get punished if I try to force it back. The past year has been hell on my mentality and my emotional well-being. Even when I get the rare opportunity to play, I let the anger and frustration blind me. My gameplay in recent tournaments has been nothing but a red haze of rage. Crudely, it sucks, and I hate it.

Yet, this is something I will not let go. Life is fighting me on every turn, and I imagine it will continue to fight. But this is my life, damn it. I refuse to let little details stop me from what I want. I will not lose control over this. Little by little, I can pull it together. I don’t care if this takes years. Melee pulled me out of some serious shit, and I will not let that be taken away. This is my corner of the ring, and I will hold it as long as I can.

I apologize if this sounds like a giant set up for a sob story. I want to be clear. I don’t believe that I am the only one going through this. I don’t believe that my story is something that should be cared about. Hell, nobody has to care about me. I don’t want pity, and I don’t want people believing they can solve this for me. I don’t even think it’s that bad. Plenty are dealing with much worse than I, and still kicking ass. Rather, I want something to be understood. Life is hard. Life sucks. Life will kick you because it can, and it will kick you again for the pleasure. But that won’t stop me. Why should it stop anybody?

Somebody you know is pushing through life right now. I know plenty of others who are worse off than I am, and still pushing through. Why? Because we have something we don’t want to let go. We have something that gives us that feeling of control, that our life is in our hands. We treasure that above anything else. Sometimes though, it gets heavy. I didn’t write this post to gain sympathy. I wrote it because writing helps me find focus in life. This post is more for me than anything else. But, somebody you know is dealing with shit just as bad, if not worse. And sometimes, they don’t want to tell you it’s that bad. Sometimes, they just need and want somebody to tell them that the fight is worth it. Their pride won’t let them ask for help. Don’t let their pride think they are alone. They aren’t alone. They have you. And sometimes, that’s all they need.

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