I recently had a conversation with a tedious individual. We have all met this person before. It’s someone who justifies every action by referring to life as a game. “It’s all just a game, bro.” This attitude has always struck me as somewhat blind when the intent is to project enlightenment. Ironic, by definition. They think that they see through the veil and choose to tackle life on their own terms. But amusingly, their actions say precisely the opposite. They’re not living off-grid in a mountain cave while eating rodents and wearing deer pelts. They’re just pushing against the boundaries of the current social construct.

In short, they’re just being assholes.

Games imply that you can win, lose, or stop playing. But can you win at life? That is an entirely subjective assessment, but we’ll say yes. Can you lose? Absolutely. But can you quit playing? Aside from leaping off a tall building, not really. You are bound to the rules of the society you inhabit. As a simple “freedom” experiment, stop paying your taxes and see what happens.

This time was different, though. When dealing with a self-satirizing individual, I normally roll my third eye and move on. But, I was compelled to ask about the finish. “So if it’s all a game, then what’s the win?” He rattled off the usual materialistic crap, i.e. having all the toys. “But then what?” I asked. He emitted a sheepish chuckle, then replied with “More toys, I guess.” But the thing is, the response was so flaccid that even he knew that he had never thought past the acquisition. It was a surreal moment, as if it dawned on him right then and there that the game was playing him instead.

I was left to muse on my own interpretation of “the game.” First and foremost, I do not view life as a game of any sort. Some aspects are definitely games, like careers. But life itself? Not at all. At best, I see it as an aimless slog, the goal of which is isolation.

Yes, that sounds like some serious emo shit, but allow me to quantify.

Most people see life as a quest for meaning. I understand the impulse, but I’m not one to ascribe meaning to anything. A large part of my misanthropic worldview is informed by an indifferent universe that couldn’t care less whether we’re here or not. It’s a mental filter that I apply to pretty much everything. Thus, I see the pursuit of meaning as inherently meaningless, basically “a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there.” That’s not me. One thing I will never do is pacify a dissatisfied brain.

Yes, I know. At this point I should be applying dark eyeliner and lighting candles. But in all seriousness, I actually see this as a positive outlook. I am not bogged down by a pointless search for significance, which gives me a lot of time to enjoy life as I see fit, but within the boundaries that society imposes. This doesn’t mean that I sit on the couch and drink cheap beer while watching sitcoms with laugh tracks. Quite the opposite. I leverage a lucrative career for comfort and independence, which allows me to write stories about fictional worlds that are much more interesting than the one I’m confined to.

I recognize that my life is one big quest for isolation. Would I like to be a world-famous author? Sure, that’d be neat, but fame is not something I covet. I would much rather own a small cabin in Iceland with a full stock of creature comforts. And should a major publisher cut me a big fat check one day, that’s exactly where I’ll be headed.