I’ve been re-playing missions in this computer game where I lead piloted robots in combat against other robots. This girl I’ve been seeing finds it all a bit ridiculous. I’ve already beat all the missions, she says!
I tell her in response that that’s true, but I replay the missions to see how I could have accomplished them differently – say, with a different combination of robots, or armed with different weapons, or utilizing different strategies to take advantage of terrain. In short, how can I complete the missions *better, and set myself up for even greater success in future missions (when you suffer less damage in previous missions, you have a better chance of succeeding in future missions, etc).
It all actually reminds me of volunteer work I’ve done with kids who would be the first in their families to attend college.
So much of “success” in life is beyond genetics, it’s also situational. If you have parents or older siblings who have been to college, you have someone to tell you how to go about it, without having to research and figure out everything on your own. That gives you a head start. That head start lets you focus on other things, and those things continue to add up to give you better and better opportunities to succeed. It’s about knowing what to do, how to do, and how to do it better. In life, as opposed to computer games where you blow up robots, you only get one chance. Having mentors, family or otherwise, to guide you, makes a difference. When you have only one chance, and have to figure things out as you go rather than just focusing on learning the actual subject material etc – those are real, if intangible challenges that the luckier ones don’t have to face.
Tangentially, it also makes me thing how important it is, in a family, that the parents get along – for their kids. Compare it to a company – any office politics distracts from the energy and attention that could be going toward making a great product. Compare it to national corruption and economic output – studies have shown that countries with high corruption have lower economic growth. Corruption has the effect of an implied tax that lowers productivity. All the energy a couple spends fighting each other is energy that isn’t available to devote elsewhere. Then maybe kids may get neglected more, tired parents let the nannies or teachers at school handle “it.”
Thankfully, the girl tolerates my computer gaming with good humour … so far.
That, and the fact that I am not taller than her when she wears heels, that I don’t have a job in private equity, that I am not an “alpha male”, etc. etc. (all things very important to many NYC women who are “not here for a hookup”)