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November 23, 2011 / jwaxo

Skunny Kart (Pushing Through)

Uh, yeah. Definitely not a knockoff of MarioKart.

Like oh-so-many of the lessons dried out, cataloged, hung up, and notated here, this one really can apply to anything. Really: anything. Any passion, any interest, and especially any hobby.

This is about pushing through to the end of an ordeal because of what you know waits for you at the end.

“I just have to make it through today,” “just past this test,” “just to the end of the weekend.” “Then I can finally X and have not a care in the world.” And X is where you put your thing. For my dad, it’s camping. For my friends, it’s watching the football game. For myself, it was always a video game.

“It doesn’t matter how well I do on the quiz, it doesn’t matter if I try my best and miserably fail or slack off and miraculously get a 100%, at the end of the day I’ll be able to play Skunny Kart.” Somehow, this has always been my greatest motivator for anything. Not always with Skunny Kart, of course, the bad MarioKart ripoff that I got a demo of on a gigantic demo CD. I guess it was technically a Diddy Kong Racing knockoff, since the main Skunny game consisted of 3D rendered 2D platforming, with riding in carts and shooting out of barrel-shaped cannons, all mainstays of the classic Donkey Kong Country series. Skunny Kart is just one example that I pulled out of the air, from a long hiking trip that I found extremely boring. I was able to get through that hiking trip (oh, boo-hoo, twelve-year-old self) by sticking that carrot on a stick out in front of myself. It didn’t matter how horribly boring the camping trip was: it would last a set amount of time, and, after it, I would be able to sit down at the family computer and race around those stupid tracks and jump over those stupid tracks and fire whatever stupid weapons I picked up at my stupid enemies.

And it worked. And it continues to work.

Wow, I think to myself, clients are really stupid today. But it didn’t really matter: at the end of the day, I would be home, get through a few chores (making Chex Mix), self-imposed challenges (writing 1/30th of a novel), and responsibilities (this blog), and definitely be playing the new Zelda (which is pretty awesome, thank you for asking) by 9 o’clock.

The silly thing about these justifications and rewards is that they work with the stupid brain reasoning that we won’t have to deal with whatever we pushed through. Need to push through a stupid client? They’ll still be stupid when I get back to work after Thanksgiving. Need to push through a particularly rainy camping trip? All of your stuff will still need to be dried out when the weather clears up. Need to push through a test? That grade will come back to bite you in the backside.

Somehow, setting my sights on something beyond the current ordeal worked as the ultimate fear-reducer. I was the king of nerves. I could get through almost anything, by being able to focus on the simple, mindless pleasure of a video game coming afterwards.

Especially with tests and quizzes. And thus the perfect excuse to not study arose.

It never worked on the parents, of course.

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