There has been a few times in life where I've hit the reset or pause buttons. You know, the one that the old Nintendo sitting on your shelf collecting dust has? You would be happily playing a game, getting further and further along, and suddenly, you would have to go to school, or a friend would come over to play outside (and I still firmly believe that being outside with friends is better than any video game), or your parents would realize that you hadn't cleaned your room and yell at you to get the hell off of the Nintendo and do as you're told...
Press the pause button.
It was the rudimentary "save" function. You couldn't turn the system off, and the if the power went out, your game was reset yet again, but most of the time, it worked out ok. You could think of nothing else but going back to your little electronic world once you were ripped out of it, but you had to have confidence that it would still be there, waiting for you to pick right back up where you left off if you just stepped back and took care of your responsibilities first. Logic and odds dictated that the smart thing to do was to simply press pause, and revisit it later.
But there was always a worse scenario. Again, you would be happily playing a game, almost to completion, slaying enemies or toadstools or winning the final race, and the game would freeze. You had one and only option at that point.
Hit the reset button.
Old video game systems never had a true "save" function. No matter how much progress you had made, it was all lost the minute the game froze, the power went out, or you ran out of lives. The only way to earn back the progress you had made was to hit the reset button and start all over.
But it was different than the first time you played the game. You had experience. You knew where those enemies were hiding, where you needed to jump, and where you needed to slow down and figure out a puzzle, because you had done it all before. It was frustrating to have to go through it all again when you felt so accomplished the first time, but the end goal was still the same, to progress further and ultimately, beat the game. You might not have remembered everything from the first run through, but you damn sure had it a little easier. There was never a question of putting the controller down and walking away...the game was there, and it must be won.
I knew all of this when I was 8 years old. It now amazes me that at 34, it took me this long to realize that Megan's death has shown me the same thing as Mario and Luigi did all those years ago. I was happily playing the game of life until her first transplant, in 2011, where we had to hit the pause button while she healed from the surgery, and all we could think about was picking it right back up and progressing further. We were in the final boss battle in 2014, where we hit the pause button yet again in order to take care of responsibilities, but there was a glitch in the system, the game froze, and she ran out of lives. Game over.
My only choice was to hit the reset button. I have the experience of going through the game the first time and I'm able to remember how it's played, but there are always things that I don't recall because it was such a long and epic game.
Weird thing is, I've found a secret level that I've never seen before prior to this run-through. It's shiny and new and interesting and most of the time, fun to play, but it's difficult, because I don't know all of the ins and outs and where the enemies and special jumps and hidden spots are. I know how to use the controller in this game in general, I'm very experienced with it, but not necessarily in this level. I've already had to hit the pause button just to keep my composure and not want to toss the controller at the TV. I have to have confidence that the power's not going to go out, but I can't help but worry that the game will freeze while I do other things and take care of responsibilities, and I'll have to start all over yet again. This secret level is almost an entirely new game for me, and I can't stop thinking about sitting back down and playing it. Even with the difficulty and unknowns, it's one of the most interesting parts of the entire game...i just wish there was a strategy guide for it, because I'm flyin pretty fuckin blind right now.
So, it's paused while I search for my own guidebook, when hopefully, I can come back, sit down, and just enjoy playing it without ever having to press the reset button.