Noticing on….28th August 2017
I stand there nervous, eyes waiting for me to speak..
“My name is Kamala Mann, I play pacman and tell myself its a meditation” The sound of thunderous clapping erupts. They sit in a circle. Hanging above them is a tattered placard that reads “Still in the Eighties”.
A woman with a perm, wearing a velvet blue jumper, holding a rubik’s cube shouts “well done that was very courageous of you!”. A man gripping a Commodore 64, eyes scanning the room whispers “admitting it is the first step dear”.
I tell myself it is a meditation. Amazing insights arrive when I play pacman.
My highest score is around 151,000 which is a far shot from the highest score you can achieve – but if you have ever played pacman you would want to shake my hand, possibly even hug me. My children watch in awe whenever they catch me playing, and I, feeling extremely sheepish at being caught, say with a voice of authority and chin held high “with practice we can achieve anything”. I feel the rolling of their eyes and can make out the words “normal mums…” but never quite catch the rest of what they said…
If you have never played pacman, the object of the game is to eat as many white dots as you can. There are power pills, that when eaten allow you to defeat the four antagonists or ghosts. Their names are Blinky, Inkey, Pinky and Clyde. Yes Clyde! It never fails to make me laugh when I hear the name Clyde. His name so random, a rule breaker, a cowboy, the kind mothers warn their daughters about. Cylde, for all these reasons is my favourite.
Now you can always tell what mood you are in, and where one’s head is at when you play. There are times when getting the highest score is the objective – when the journey is irrelevant. At these times one is subject to temptation of the fruit offered (as bonus points). If one gives into this temptation one can make off-course random decisions. The play sways from making safe decisions to allow for longevity in the game or to tempt the hand of fate to quickly gain a higher score. One learns to take calculated risks and to know, to sense into the feeling that temptation is taking over.
At other times when I play, it is to see how long I can go before I eat one of my power pills – before I call for help – ask for grace – as though walking in an unforgiving desert determined not to drink my precious water. It is that these times that I’m most inventive and develop my nerve. It is at these times that I also notice my need to somehow carry my load on my own not reaching my hand out for help – determined to see how strong I am.
There are times when I play and for some reason I lose two lives in quick succession (where I only have three). There is a feeling of great loss, that somehow I have marred the whole game. I notice the inner critic berating me at what has occurred – if only… At these times I can decide to just quit and start a new game. But can we really in real life? just quit because we have been thrown a curve ball. I find that this is when resilience kicks in and is developed.
How far can I go with only one life? How far can I get when the odds are completely against me? Do I have what is takes to pick myself back up and carry on regardless? Some of my highest scores have been achieved when in these tight situations. When my back is against the wall – I can come out fighting or give up. I cant help it, but there is a survival chip in me that just kicks in – even when Ive decided to give into the mush of inner defeat – something and I don’t know what – but something kicks in to push myself. I did this to myself at University. I declared at the end of the second year, to the whole year that I would get a First – the need and understanding that only in challenging situations – when my back is up against a wall (whether I or circumstances have pushed myself there) is when the most amazing things happen…
I digress… sometimes when I play I just like to observe how I feel about Inkey, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde. At times when they have defeat me, I smile as though shaking their hands in a gentlemanly fashion having just played a game of cricket – all of us commenting on each others wonderful play as we walk up to the pavilion.
At other times I dislike the four and notice the inner tantrum and determination to beat them the next time, convinced that my cause is much greater than theirs.
Sometimes I really delve into being an impartial observer – playing in a non dualistic way, no sense of other — that I am both pacman and the four rivals. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses – it is a game. When in this state of mind I also achieve high scores, in fact my highest. No attachment to the outcome, no watching of the points accumulated, no fear of death, no resistance against my ‘enemy”, no emotion triggered by what they are trying to achieve – my death. They are just doing what they are designed to do.
When playing in this way there is a flow, it was always there and ‘I’ just had to get out of the way. When completing the game there is no sense of triumph and no sense of loss but a recognition that I am all the players and the one watching the players.
There is a sense of having taken part in something sacred.
Once the game is switched off – no one ever knows about the insights and learning that took place but me – and I guess now you.
Like I said, I play pacman and I tell myself it’s a meditation…
Noticing on….. 20th August 2017