Go for Broke

by Jinryu

Around the same time when I first started really getting into video games in the late 90s, and by that, I mean taking the time to finish titles that had over 50 hours of gameplay, I was also looking into Dungeons & Dragons.

For me, my ongoing fascination with gaming, whether electronically, on paper, or in other ways, has been the way that it provides me analogies to isolate and understand “real life” better.

I look at my life as if I’m a protagonist.  Like a character in a role playing game, I have stats and abilities.  Physical stats like strength, agility, dexterity and stamina.  Brainy stats like intelligence and charisma.

And then broader skills: law, music, sports, relationships, what have you.  And then the specific skills for the minigames that make use of these skills: Cutting onions.  One arm shoulder throws.  Drop shots. Shaving.

I treat myself and introspection like the process of developing a character sheet full of these scores and skills, and these things give me an overal score in life, like “experience points,” which I’ve usually simply called substance.

I like using the term “substance” more than “experience points” because there’s an emphasis on a real world manifestation in time and space when it is brought out.

The limitation on how much substance you can acquire is usually broken down into time and energy.  There’s only so many points of energy that you can use in a day, and only so much time in a day that you can use those points.  Some tasks have steeper experience curves than others– for example, you can spend just as much time doing the laundries, something you probably know how to pretty well, and aren’t likely to see much improvement in; as you would practicing to say hello in a few foreign languages.  You can spend the same amount of time and energy in different activities, but overal, what you actual get out of those activities will give you varying returns based on your past experiences.

Usually, a time of great growth is one where you’re accumulating a lot of substance in a given period of time.  When you’re bored, usually you’re not accomplishing anything.  That’s not to say that when you’re “productive” that you’re gaining a lot of substance– it depends just what you’re doing, and perhaps who you’re doing it for.

Lately, I’ve been totally exhausted.  Sometimes, you can get tired for “no good reason”– like boredom, which is a subconsciously imposed cap on energy because of low morale or loss of direction.   Other times, you can be tired because you’re physically ill, which places caps on energy.

My recent situation is a bit different.  I think though it’s because it’s one of those highly saturated times of my life where I’m feeling the mental and physical burn of an extremely high energy/time to substance ratio.  It’s a high concentration of constant activity with both good and bad results that is making me learn, really quite quickly, about all sorts of things.

  • The whole clerkship process has been an emotional rollercoaster for me.  I’ve come to really tweak my business persona, used at all these cocktail evenings. Despite the lack of results so far, I’ve become much more comfortable talking at interviews and with strangers in general.  I’ve gotten used to the idea of “selling myself” naturally.
  • IWith the recent rejection from my first choice law firm, I’m down to two more chances of getting a second round interview with my remaining two firms.
  • I’m taking three classes where I’ve been trying to keep up with the readings and participate actively in class, although with limited success.
  • I have been improving steadily at judo, which could itself be an entire entry of it’s own.
  • I have been dealing with Law Society internal politics, which means a hella lot of managerial work.  Which is a hella lot, considering I’m not even a manager.
  • In parallel to my own situation, [CM] is dealing with a lot of similar things– so we’re also working on keeping our relationship healthy and supportive, which in itself is a skill, considering how many hurdles we have to jump together.
  • eTC
  • etC
  • etc


Anyways– just to say, life is busy.  I’m getting a hella lot tougher out of all this, that’s for sure.  And I am more than a bit tired.


However, there isn’t actually anything that I can do to slow things down– and in reality, even if I did slow things down, what then?  Taking extra time to do nothing would just give me more time to worry about things that I can’t change.  So in the mean time… I’m grinding away at all these things simultaneously, on “hard mode.”

I do feel myself getting stronger, and I do feel bursts of fun because I’m playing hard at the things that make me happy, but god– do I ever miss being able to just be without responsibilities.


Deep down I think I know that I could walk away from everything.  I would survive.  But on the other hand, maybe there’s still a bit of that Catholic and Confucian indoctrination remaining that makes me feel guilty for even considering that.


I still think that somewhere down the line, I’m going to win big by playing like this.  As long as the end result is still worth it, this is all endurable.