Nearly four years ago, I made the decision to give up one of my favorite hobbies. From a very early age, I had always loved playing video games. I would spend countless hours sitting in front of a television enthralled in the fantasy world I had at my fingertips.
My father and grandfather always discouraged me from playing games. They would warn me that it would “rot my brain,” and stressed to me how much of a waste of time gaming was, even for a small child.
Gaming was an escape for me. I had always been an athletic, active kid, but video games offered an easy way for me satisfy my imagination. There were periods throughout my life in which I couldn’t wait to get home from school or work only to plop down in front of the television and get lost in whichever game I was into at the time.
As I grew older, I realized that gaming was becoming more of a distraction from things that should have been important in my life. Soon after my grandfather passed away, I began feeling more and more compelled to leave the games behind.
My grandfather was an outdoorsman his entire life. He would tell my brothers and I about all the adventurous things he did as a child, and as a young adult. He had been raised on a farm and knew how to ride horses, raise bird dogs, plant a garden, and the man had been fishing in nearly every lake from South Carolina to the Mississippi River. I would often go with him on hunting or fishing trips, or just help him around his farm with various tasks he liked to refer to as “piddlin.”
After he passed, I though more and more about him, and how much I wished I could have gone with him on some of his outdoor adventures. I’m ashamed to admit that on many occasions, I chose to play video games instead of join him on a fishing trip, or help him out around the farm. The regret I feel for missing out on those opportunities stings worse now than ever.
One day, about four years ago, I sat at breakfast and reminisced about how much I enjoyed spending time with him. I wondered if my grandchildren would ever have the same kind of memories I had of my “Papa.”
Then it hit me. If I didn’t give up my guilty pleasure of gaming, I wouldn’t have any of those amazing stories to tell my own grandchildren.
The hours and hours I had spent gaming was time that I could have spent exploring the great outdoors, fishing, hunting, riding horses, or any other adventure that I would get more out of than any video game could have ever given me.
I got rid of my gaming console that day and resolved to take advantage of any opportunity I could to enjoy the great outdoors.
Since then, I have cherished every opportunity I get to be adventurous. I’ve made some incredible memories with friends, and I have grown closer to my father, and enjoyed the time we get to venture into the great outdoors together.
A few people have asked me why I quit playing games. I always respond with the same answer.
“I want to spend my time enjoying real-life adventures, and I want to have some incredible stories to tell my grandkids.”
If I could offer any advice to someone the same situation I used to find myself in, I would strongly encourage leaving the virtual world, and exploring the vast, magnificent world around them.
People will never remember all those levels you beat in that video game, or how good you were at an online multiplayer game. But, those adventures you and your friends set out on will create unforgettable memories that will mean more to you and those around you years from now.
Get up off that couch, turn off the television, and put down that controller. In doing so, I guarantee you will enter a world of endless adventure that will surpass any enjoyment you can ever get from anything you will find in the digital world.