Saturday, July 03, 2010
So you know when you play a video game and there are only certain areas that you are allowed to go until you've played the game for a while, collected enough points, found the hidden diadem, the secret key, etc. etc. and then you get to unlock that next level? That rush of excitement that you feel when you've finally done it - battled the giant, killed the goomba, and the door opens up to a world that you haven't ever seen or experienced yet?
I think I did that with Spark today.
Don't go running to look for hidden Easter Eggs on the site - there's nothing new in the Spark programming that you didn't know before. The new level that I unlocked today was actually one in ME.
I've been getting close for a while. I've been collecting my points, and sharing my stories, and giving my goodies to the friends I've met along the way. I have my badges of honour - my perfect attendance awards, weight loss trophies and consistency badges - even one popular blog post that I didn't think was possible so early in the game. I visit my awards page from time to time to polish my trinkets and marvel in the work that I have done to accomplish them. But the game in front of me is vast and there are more treasures in store, so I can't spend too long reflecting on what I've done before I have to go off to fight the next battle.
And today that battle was with my bike. On Thursday - July 1st - in one of my visits to my treasure room, I noticed that there was one badge missing - the 1000 Fitness Minutes monthly badge. I wanted it. Badly. So I vowed to start a thread in the Done Girls Team to challenge myself and others who wanted to go with me to get that badge for the month of July. Three days in to the challenge and my team members are kicking my butt in minutes. So I figured I had to get moving to catch up. I hopped on my trusty steed and took off into the wilderness of urban Chicago in the blazing summer heat and just rode. And rode, and rode for 6 miles. It was hot - but the breeze on my face kept me cool. I saw places that I have never seen in my 6 years in this city. I found a beautiful park and a lake and a welcome refuge of a water-park where children were laughing and screaming and playing away the long weekend. And it was then that I realized I had done it. I had unlocked the next level of the game.
Never before would I have imagined being able to conquer 6 miles alone on my bike in the city. I always used my fear of cars and other bike traffic to keep my pink beauty locked in the basement. I had dreams of riding her, but alas, I feared it would never be. But today - I met with the challenge and swallowed my fear, put caution to the wind (but safely with my helmet in check) and made Nike proud by JUST DOING IT!
I surprised myself today. And perhaps that is the best reward of all. I didn't think I had it in me. But I come to find that I most certainly do. I can do this. I really can. And if I can do THIS - what other glorious, wonderful, hidden journeys await me in the future? If I have unlocked THIS level, I can only imagine what the next few worlds might look like - only bigger, and brighter, and more colourful than the last. I can't wait!
As I climbed down from the saddle today and put away my bike, sweaty and a little sore - I literally smiled to myself. This is what accomplishment REALLY feels like. For all of the things that I have done in my life, I have never really, truly felt this. This is the feeling of doing something that doesn't come easy. From pushing yourself beyond what you thought yourself capable of doing. For hanging in there and talking positively to yourself whenever doubt creeps in. For saying, just 5 more minutes, just one more mile. You can do it, you can do it. Look at how far you've come.
Something tells me that just like a video game, the creators of Spark intended this too. This was the level I was meant to find. And there are certainly more out there to come across on my journey. That is the way this game works. This beautiful, real, life-altering game.
I'm living in the next level now - and man, does it feel good!