Saturday, April 01, 2006

Do You Approve?

Question Mark puzzle pieceSo I was playing this game on a free site called It's called Penguin Arcade, and the object of it is to keep the penguins in this pool from escaping by knocking them back into the water with an ice cube cannon. It's mind-numbing entertainment and it is addictive. But I also found it held a valuable life lesson for me.

Once you start lobbing ice cubes at these animated birds (including puffins that fly across the screen) you accumulate points. And underneath the point scale there is the little "Smily face" you know one of those obnoxious yellow things. And it keeps smiling as long as you are knocking penguins back into the pool. But once you start to miss - which you inevitably do because the penguins start to gang up on you and try to escape three or four at a time -then the smily face turns to a face with a line in it and then to a frowny face.

And I found myself being more concerned about keeping this animated face smiling than actually shooting at the penguins. I was wanting to keep that face smiling no matter what. I was willing to lob enough ice to clog the channel if that face would just not frown at me. (The frown actually came when your life was running out, but as long as you kept knocking penguins back into the pool. you were okay).

And it made me wonder about how many times in our lives we do things just to get the approval of others. We want their smiles and their approval and we seem ready to do whatever it takes to make them happy, even if we lose a piece of ourselves - or take our eyes off our goals in life - to do it.

I found that if I focused on shooting the penguins with the ice cubes, that I didn't have to worry about the smily face because that was what it was there for, to reflect pleasure with my progress. So if I shoot more penguins, I can ignore the smily face, but if I focus on the smily face - on earning approval - then I lose sight of my goals and soon the game is over.

Maybe I'm full of crap, but it seemed like the most important thing was to focus on what I was there to do, and not seek the approval of the little yellow man in the corner. There's a life lesson in there somewhere. Make of it what you will. And enjoy the game.

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