Caught Between Two Great Loves

Faced with what seems a fork in the road of life, two paths that beckon yet seldom meet one another, how does one choose? How should one turn their back on an invaluable element of their being to embrace another, unknowing of which might yield more happiness? As I face this dilemma, I am frightened. I feel that no matter which decision I make, it’s as if I will step into a hopeful light obscured by a dubious darkness, ready to swallow me up. The longer I mull it over, the more both paths before me are weathered and threaten to fade into the black. I must find some way to overcome my fears and march forward if I hope to see the best of what lies ahead.

So, why is this a decision I’m faced with? Well, I have two passions that might seem paradoxical: video games (duh) and nature. I’m the kind of guy who has at least a few 12-hour gaming sessions under his belt. In my life, I’m sure I’ve spent countless thousands of hours on video games. It’s a hobby that eats through most of my free time to this day, and I’m well into my young adult years. Although I’m glued to a screen much of the time, I am equally at home on a forest trail in the mountains. I’m compelled by the solitude, the beauty and complexity of life, and the wondrous natural landscapes. I often fantasize about being isolated in the wilderness, with nothing but what I need to survive and the forest trees that surround me. Video games and nature are both enormous portions of what defines me as a person.

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Smash Bros. Melee has been a favorite of mine since childhood. A year seldom passes that I don’t return to it.

Each of these passions contributes to my life in potentially productive ways, as well. Through gaming and my natural inclination for reading and writing, I’ve found that I love to write about games. I’m told I’m great at it, too. If I could ever make a living as some sort of video game journalist or blogger, that would be awesome. It’s also possible to make a living in the great outdoors. In recent years, I have taken up nature photography. I don’t know if I’m that great at it yet, though I do know I feel very good about it. It’s the first new skill I’ve attempted in a very long time that hasn’t scared me off. Rather, it makes me excited to improve. I can only imagine how incredible it would be to visit the most beautiful places on Earth as serious work for my job. To side with either video games or nature could lead me toward a great life.

Unfortunately, it’s true that both sides come with major caveats. Despite how often I am, I don’t like to be sedentary. Part of what I love about the job I work now is that I move around a lot. I walk back and forth all day across a large, busy dining room, and it’s great. If I become a full-time writer, most of my time will be spent sitting at a desk. That’s not to mention that playing games in order to write about them will also keep me glued to my seat. In addition, there is something I fear about working as a writer: the speed of my work. For a very long time, I have struggled to work as quickly as other people. No matter how hard I try, I can rarely achieve the same pace at which I know others write or get other work done. It’s almost impossible to imagine that I could keep up with breaking news stories and multiple project deadlines. Lastly, the lifestyle required for that sort of job would further limit the time I have to get out in nature.

A job outdoors, such as that of a photographer, would solve many of my issues with a career in writing. Hiking of course is great exercise. Plus, photography is so different in nature from writing that I don’t have major issues with my work pace. And I would gladly trade a drab office for forested mountainsides any day. Take all this into consideration, and it looks like work outdoors could be the better option for me.

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I don’t think I’m particularly good at landscapes, but this is one of my better shots.

That might be true, but it doesn’t come without a cost. Video games have shaped my life and identity in far-reaching ways. For example, the best friendships of my life came about largely thanks to a shared interest in games. Similarly, it’s been a dream of mine for years now to find that special gamer girl who’s right for me. It’s corny, I know. The thing is, jobs in nature tend to be time-consuming. They can even require lots of travel, especially when it comes to the type of photography I’d like to do. That lifestyle doesn’t leave much room at all for video games. It’s sad to think my friendships could suffer for it. As for meeting a gamer girl, my chances already feel next to non-existant. Admittedly, the thought of lowering those chances further terrifies me. Another point to consider is that I’ve been tied to home my whole life. I don’t know travel beyond family trips, and I’ve never left the US. It’s a comfortable way to live. The consequence is that I can’t know if I’ll enjoy a life of travel until I try it. Friendships, potential mates, and traveling aside, there’s the simple fact that it would be difficult, even sad to turn my back on what has been a highlight of my life for almost as long as I can remember.

What should I do about this gut-wrenching decision? Well, I believe I am doing the only thing I can do at this stage. While I’m still unsure of which side I would rather commit to, I will follow my gut and see where life takes me. I have to at least try something, after all, lest I waste my opportunity to get a good start in life. To that end, I return to college this Fall. My focus will be on photography. I’ve only self-taught from a book until now, so I’m excited to learn in a classroom setting. I’m hopeful my ability will improve greatly and that I can figure out if it’s something I really want to do. If it doesn’t work out, then it’s not too late for me to change course. Meanwhile, I will continue to write here. Who knows? Maybe it will lead to something unexpected and exciting.

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Photos such as this one I took of a wildflower are what give me the confidence to pursue photography.

That’s the thing. Life is unpredictable. Now matter how much I feel the need to, I don’t believe it’s wise to form a rigid idea of my potential futures and the consequences of each. Yes, if things go how I imagine I’d like them to, I likely will have to choose between video games and nature at some point. There will be consequences. I will have to deal with them. But even more likely is that life will surprise me. Say, for example, I become more successful at photography than I could realistically hope. I do travel for my photos, yet also earn enough money to afford time at home for gaming. Or, maybe neither of my ideal paths in life works out. So I continue gaming and hiking as hobbies while I work a more average job. I’m happy with it even if it’s not everything I wanted. The natural flow of circumstance will pull me along, whether it carries me where I want or not.

For now, at least when it comes to school, my aim is for the nature/photography route. Time will tell if I commit to this or if the choice has to be made at all. I’m still scared. I bet I will be until it either happens or doesn’t happen. But… you know what? Who cares? Choice is a luxury, even one as difficult as this. I should appreciate it. As I continue to figure this out, I will do my best to enjoy both of my favorite hobbies in the world. I’ll dedicate yet more hours to the macabre streets of Yharnam, Super Smash Bros.’s frantic action, and my Minecraft home away from home. When I need a break, I’ll strap on my hiking shoes and head to the nearest forest. I have to, while I’m still young. Given the choice that may be ahead of me, I shouldn’t miss my chance to explore each side of who I am. I won’t.

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