Family, Life, Pets, School

One perspective on a busy life

09.11.10 | 2 Comments

I’ll call it the Bladder Theory*. It’s probably fairly common among busy people with overactive brains; whether the overactivity is causative, correlative, or actually an effect of the theory would be good research. You may be able to diagnose yourself if you’ve ever played the Sims game and gotten overwhelmed. From Wikipedia’s entry:

“The player can make decisions about time spent in skill development, such as exercise, reading, creativity, and logic, by adding activities to the daily agenda of the sims. Daily needs fulfillment such as hygiene maintenance and eating can also be scheduled. Although sims can autonomously perform these actions, they may not prioritize them effectively. Much like real humans, sims can suffer consequences for neglecting their own needs. For example, sims can die from starvation if they do not eat for prolonged periods of time. Needs govern the overall moods of the sims. If the needs are not fulfilled, the sims can become grumpy and unwilling to obey certain player-directed commands, particularly ones that do not fulfill the depleted needs in question. This system follows the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in which physiological needs must be satisfied before other needs can be attended to.”

I first played the game when I was 20 years old. (TEN YEARS AGO. Man. Anyway.) It was a short-lived experiment – I found the whole thing very stressful and not too fun. I mean you had to monitor each sim’s stomach, bladder, sleepiness, fridge… You had to send them to the bathroom, queue the tasks of cooking, taking out the trash, picking up the paper… Empty, full, empty, full. It was all the pesky little details of life that if one consciously thinks of them all at once, someone like myself will avoid getting out of bed in the morning. Not to mention that any time you spent playing the game, you were NOT tending to your actual life, so while your sim might be fed and making it to work on time, that real world studying wasn’t doing itself.

When I pause to consider all the irons we have in the fire right now, life is a sims game. Which is ludicrous, and maybe their point in making the game, so we can experience a god-like control over the orchestration of such mundane tasks. I think of this as similar in enjoyment to when you’re sleeping through your alarm, but you KNOW you’re sleeping, and thus the sleeping is much more enjoyable than if you were sleeping unaware.

So there are my actual organs, mainly the food tube and bladder. And Zoe’s. And Chief’s. When we had cats, there were their stomachs, bladders AND litter box. The trash can. The groceries, and not just the groceries, but specific items: at what level is the orange juice? The eggs? The dog food? There’s no room in the freezer for ice cream (needs emptying!), but the frozen strawberries are getting low (needs filling!). The checking account. The credit card. The bills. The laundry. The mail. The email. The air filter. The water filter. The car’s oil, gas, registration, inspection. Prescriptions. Toilet paper. How long since we cleaned the shower? Washed the sheets? Tossed out the leftovers? Joel’s a skilled programmer, and I’m sure he could make a control center with detailed reports on each of these things, which might be fairly entertaining. They should make a game like that. Oh wait.

By the by, Angry Birds is more my speed. Launching psychotic fowl at structures built and occupied by militant, thieving swine is pure escapism, not to mention subtle strategical, physical and geometrical lessons.

When I’m thinking about any one of these things, I’m fine. I do it, it’s done, and I move on to the next item on the list. In aggregate, my head spins. I’ve learned through intense cognitive/behavioral conditioning NOT to think about much in aggregate unless I’m prepared and calm enough and ready to enjoy thinking about it, like contemplating the expansive macro and micro universes. Might not want to do that when you’re trying to go to sleep. Or next time you’re stuck in traffic, look out into the sea of cars. Each driver has a whole story and life and family, and those people have stories and families and lives, and their officemates and cashiers at the stores they visit ALSO have stories and lives and families, all past and present, and we easily might not have left even Houston yet.

It might sound like I’m crazy. And yes, this sort of thinking can produce anxiety. But like the alarm/sleeping concept, if I’m aware of all the balls in the air, yet that everyone is fed, no one has wet her pants, the pets and plants are alive, I still talk to friends and family some, and – oh yes – school work is getting done, I feel more like I’m in a swim meet and less like dog paddling. Which reminds me… I need to work exercise back into my routine. In my defense, I’ve had full sinuses and empty energy reserves.

*Apparently Peter Lynch has a financial theory by the same name. I mean no encroachment.


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