The Past in the Present

For months I’ve been making a promise to myself that I’m going to start The Witcher 3. I’ve been mesmerized by all the developments concerning Cyberpunk 2077, and as such, giving CD Projekt Red’s last mega-hit a go just seems like a good idea. In order to firmly set the notion in mind, I made the arbitrary promise that I’d start The Witcher 3 on or near my birthday, which just happens to be this month. I downloaded our copy onto my PS4, made sure it was all updated, and started it up. It’s good, oh yes very good, but as I was making my way through its opening scenes, a stray but powerful thought infiltrated my brain and…

…I suddenly wanted to play Mass Effect.

Ah, me.

To back up just a little, the reason for that specifically is because we overhauled our TV-game consoles setup after the death of our Xbox 360, the system on which I usually play Mass Effect. With things now revamped in our living room, I have easy access to our Xbox One, on which I can now play Mass Effect in updated style, and which I have not done before. Although I have recently knocked some thing out of my backlog and feel like I’m able to comfortably look to the future of playing something new and different, that pull from the past is, right now, incredibly strong.

And it’s not just affecting my gaming habits. My entertainment preferences of late, from TV to books, are all from the past. From watching reruns of things like The Golden Girls (always hilarious) and ALF (a problematic yet unusually prescient show), to pulling out my dusty DVDs of WarGames, Evil Dead, Noises Off, and O Brother Where Out Thou?, to rereading the Timothy Zahn series of Star Wars novels, I just don’t want to have anything to do with recent activities of leisure, let alone anything produced in or around 2020.

Actually, that last isn’t totally true. I have discovered the BBC reality series “Home Is Where The Art Is,” and I quite enjoy it. Maybe because I wish I was able to do art, some art. Any art! Crafts I’m okay with. But art? I just don’t have vision.

Anyway, there’s really no psychoanalysis necessary here – the current times simply call for the comfortable, as in that which is alluded to in the following tweet. (OMG look at me taking a moment away from being the utter social media ghost that I actually am.)

Indeed, there’s far more than idealistic nostalgia at play. Before 2020, I would never have considered myself an anxious person. But COVID and future uncertainty has driven my latent anxiety through the roof, and only by taking refuge in the things and thoughts that I find comforting have I been able to keep a lid on things enough to function normally in this presently abnormal society. I’m mean, I know that I have a tendency to worry, but never before has worry taken over en masse to the point of feeling nearly catatonic, which has happened a few times over the course of the summer. In large part of the loss of our cat has definitely played a role in all this – he really kept me “in the present,” thinking about things that were larger than myself. Maybe I didn’t realize until just now how affecting this loss has been. It makes me incredibly sad, but also very…thoughtful.

Huh.

Well, me jabbering on about just how weird Punky Brewster really was isn’t going to bring him back. Neither is me playing Mass Effect for the millionth time, nor The Witcher 3 for the first (which I’m still going to see through, really, I swear, cross my heart and all that jazz). And eventually I’ll work my way out of this little cocoon of contentment. But for now, if you want to find me, it’s where I’ll be. You’re free to join me, too, just as long as you don’t mind watching Back to the Future, again.

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