The Death of Innocence and It's Necessity
The Death of Innocence and its Necessity
The phrase “…reminds me of a simpler time” is used often on this site, and for good reasons. I’ve said this same thing and still share those same feelings. This website is a goldmine of satisfying nostalgia, proving that the joys of a carefree and innocent time aren’t easily tossed aside. We’re all blessed to have access to this place at our convenience, but moreso the initial memories that bring us back here.
This time of year (October), I typically get more nostalgic than usual; something about Fall and the changing seasons makes me think of “endings”. I start to think about “The Good Old Days” and what they were like. This is the first year (2021) that I’ve accepted that I’ll never have them again, specifically summer days where school is just a distant memory: running around the neighborhood with my close friends, only concerned with making it back home in time for dinner. Our friend’s dad taking us tubing out on the lake, me always coming back sunburnt. Staying up as late as I physically could, destroying my gut with whatever sugary drinks or candy is within arms’ reach while mashing the joystick to my N64 controller. Shout-out to Warheads candy for blowing my little mind.
Which leads me to today: The constant reminder of work just over the horizon never lets me 100% relax. The wife and kid need attention and effort to keep them happy and healthy. Investing properly and planning for the future always requires more time, attention and money than I ever feel like I have.
But such is the tradeoff to being an adult. It's bittersweet, but I'm coming into accepting that fact. As an adult, I have a little bit of spending-money I can use it to scratch that nostalgia itch. In this case, Spotify has some playlists and remixes of old games I used to frequent, and Youtube fills in whatever gaps are left.
My Most Recent Itch
Lately I’ve been listening to N64 playlists. I started while driving, then started listening at work, then home, then even while I’m at the gym. Donkey Kong 64 has some absolute bangers that tend to linger but (unlike todays’ Top 40) I actually enjoy them being stuck in my head. Jungle Japes is a classic that I could, and have, listened to on repeat:
Banjo-Kazooie is another classic with the It-Factor. Click-Clock Wood is the perfect combination of upbeat ambience and catchiness, and with FOUR DIFFERENT VERSIONS depending on what season you’re in. Summer is upbeat, loud and energetic while Winter is subtle, low and slow. Incredible sound with only a change of tone to the same music:
In fact, Rare made nothing but outstanding games and tracks for several years. Aquatic Ambience from DK Country deserves an honorable mention here:
Rare made something special with these OST’s. Both in pushing the hardware of the time and the quality of music. DK64, Banjo-Kazooie, Conker's Bad Fur Day and DK Country have some real bangers. Rare's works are all over Youtube and I recommend anyone check them out if you don’t have the time to give the games a proper playthrough.
I have a special place in my heart for the N64. I used to frequent Super Mario 64 a lot when I was younger, but never actually completed it. I got to listening to Dire Dire Docks one day when I finally cracked and decided to pull out my old console. I had to purchase several different connectors to rig it up to my HDMI, but I eventually made it happen. Took me a few days till I had the apartment to myself so that I could do a PROPER playthrough.
Sure enough, as I started it up, I was greeted with the same huge, bouncing Mario head that I knew and loved. The File Select tune is, surprisingly, one of my favorites. I cleared the last save file and started a new one. Bob-omb Battlefield was first up and that quirky, energetic beat never fails to perk me up. I wasted no time in throwing around King Bob-omb and I snatched that first star up.
And then I felt nothing.
I came down from that initial high and realized the graphics were blurred and (somehow) worse on my flat screen than on the old tube TV. My controller was clunky and drifted to the left. After achieving that first star I felt some strange longing, as if I was close to what I wanted but not quite. A hollow feeling came over me and I realized that what I was looking for, could never happen again. It wasn't the game that I was longing for, but the feeling of a younger, less aware, more carefree Me.
The Truth Settles In
I’m 30 now. I’ve grown, traveled and worked since I was a kid, and I even have one of my own now. Like most of us here, I’ve done some maturing since my heydays. With this newfound “maturity” comes some semblance of wisdom; but new wisdom pushes out old fantasies.
My oldest nostalgic memories weren’t actually perfect times. They were times that I felt an influx of joy and wonder with whatever I was doing at that moment. For me, spending quality time with real, personable people that I liked and (as far as I know) liked me back. My immature mind at the time only could register it as “a perfect moment of joy and fun”. I'll never be able to relive those same feelings with the life, mind and body I have now.
But I prefer it this way. What would life be if I wasn’t able to grasp the negative aspects of life, blissfully unaware of the evils of life and living in a perpetual dopamine-filled high? I’d be eight years old still.
But this is the way things need to be. If humans never matured past eight, no one would have the capacity or creativity to code Donkey Kong 64 and make these bomb-ass tunes. These carefree days are behind me now, and this time I'm beginning to accept it. In all honesty, it's a weight off my shoulders: I can place more focus on the future and leave behind those fantasies of capturing my younger years.
Snap Back to Reality
Some advice that an older relative of mine once told me: “there’s no cavalry coming over the hill”. There is no Deus ex Machina appearing in Act III.
And that's where the responsibility comes in: My kid needs the best version of an upbringing as possible. My wife needs a husband that complements her life and skill set. The world around me needs someone that will contribute and improve it. I'll have time for relaxing and enjoying life, but it will be few, far between, and situational. It's far past time that I embrace the responsibility that life provides you and do something productive with it. It's work, but it's satisfying. More than Fun Seeking ever could be. And I absolutely love it.
I'll end with a quote my dad gave me years ago that I've found incredibly motivating: "Life's meaningfulness is equal to the amount of responsibility you choose to take."