I never thought I would say this, but life is like a video game. In my very limited experience with video games, I see some profound similarities to real life. (If my ignorance about video games becomes too apparent, please forgive me.)
When you play a game, you can start at the elementary level. When you have mastered that beginning level--by finding the prize or killing the enemy--you advance to level 2. This level might be much like the initial level, with more difficult obstacles or trickier enemies. It's like level 1 on steroids. Several levels might show the same kinds of increasing difficulties.
But then there are some levels at which the rules are completely different. Rather than walking, you are flying. Rather than working alone, you work with a team. You are no longer looking for a hidden treasure or a sneaky foe; you are achieving a goal or building something.
At these advanced levels everything changes. The terrain is like nothing seen before. Colors and textures feel like another world. The music evokes different desires. It's the same game, but not.
This is how video games are like life. As we mature, we go through stages of life. The world looks different to a 2-year-old and a 32-year-old. It's the same world, but the rules are different. The goals are different, the feel is different. The other players are different.
And there are differences in the adult perceptions. A 72-year-old doesn't see life like a 32-year-old does. The rules are different, profoundly different. Think about it: If a young woman sees life like a grandmother, something is wrong. If an old man sees life like a college athlete, he has never matured.
Some of these transitions of perspective can be sudden and immediate. A child is born, and the new mother loses her selfishness as well as sleep. A man has a heart attack, and suddenly he cares about relationships.
A person is freed from addiction, and the world no longer wreaks with temptation. A couple stops competing and begins working as a team--and the home is filled with joy. A man recognizes a life of accomplishment, and sees that life is about more than building wealth.
Life looks different as we mature. The important things change. The more we mature, the more we "get" life. We look back and see our unhelpful--and just plain wrong--assumptions about ourselves and the world.
As we work through life, we break through to new levels. Everything changes. We see our true selves. We take ourselves less seriously. We finally recognize what really matters. We really begin to live.
I look for those new stages, and long to see the truth in life.