Fortnite is one of my favorite video games. Katie, Kobe, and I can play it for hours. We all have different strategies for how we go about the game. I play with a lot of stealth. I like to hide in bushes and buildings and wait until everyone else kills one another. Then I attack the last two players as they fight each other. I am terrible at building walls around myself when I am attacked. I get shot at, and there is a second of panic. My brain doesn’t allow me to react in a calm, strategic way. I have to turn and fight in the open or find a way to retreat and deflect attention away from myself. Both are terrible strategies.
Kobe can walk out in the open or attack and kill opponents by the dozens. When he is attacked, his instinct to stay calm while instantly building walls of protection comes natural. He controls his character with free-flowing fluidity.
The difference is in how he sees the game. Kobe sees what is happening in the moment. When I am attacked, I am thinking about not surviving and having start the game over. My mind is already lost in worry about the future, and this causes panic. I mindlessly shoot as fast and wild as possible, firing 200 shots and hitting no one. Kobe can be attacked, and he instantly and instinctively sees how to deal with the problem.
Kobe’s brain calmly says “Oh, someone’s shooting at me. I should put up four walls and then solve this problem.” My brain says, “Ahhh! Someone is shooting at me! This is a problem!”
Most of us go through life in the same way that I go through Fortnite. We hope problems don’t arise, and when they do, panic overwhelms us. The decisions made in the next moments don’t come from some calm, experienced place. Our lives feel like we are constantly worried that the next few moments may cause us to have to restart the game. Every situation seems like the first time that we have ever encountered anything before. We get lost in the panic and our reaction causes us to make poor choices. When our brain sees an unprepared situation thrown at it, we are so lost in the future of what this could possibly mean that we can’t maneuver in the present.
When Kobe started playing Fortnite he would practice putting himself in difficult situations, knowing that he wouldn’t make it through them, so that he could improve and learn as he went. While I hid in the bushes, Kobe practiced adapting and our gameplay shows it.
In the real world, the goal is to play the game of life in the same way that Kobe plays Fortnite. You don’t have to look for difficult situations to put yourself in, but when they arise, try to see them as training for more difficult situations. It is possible to gain confidence in your ability to navigate life by realizing that you have been through change and hard things already and have made it through.
Experience can birth skill if you are aware of how your mind reacts to situations. Practice watching your mind when everything is fine, and it can help you to keep calm when problems arise. That way, when life throws you an obstacle, you may be able to maneuver through it without getting lost in the panic. It can help you stay calm while you deal with situations without worrying about the possibilities that may or may not arise in the future.
When someone attacks Kobe in Fortnite, it is not a new experience. He has been there before, and he knows what to do with the current situation. When change and stress comes in your own life, it is not something new. You have been through stress and change before. The key is to learn how to stay calm and handle the present experience by using the knowledge gained from past experiences.
See if you can look at life as a game. Each time that you encounter a place in the game that you have previously panicked and reacted poorly, try to do better the next time that you encounter it. Play the game of life: Level up.
Eric Overby lives in Russell County. You can find his poetry on Amazon and more of his writings on Instagram @mindful_stoic_poet.