How the Oregon Trail Game is Akin to Life
If you were a child of the late seventies, eighties, or early nineties, then you played the Oregon Trail game. If you somehow missed out on this epic, I feel sorry for you. You were deprived of some invaluable life lessons. The parallels that can be drawn between life and a trip down the Oregon Trail are limitless.
If you played this game, you know that it is won or lost in the initial preparation. As is life. There are many decisions to be made before you even set foot on the trail. Will you be a farmer, a banker, a teacher, or a doctor? There aren’t many good Samaritans who want to be a farmer or a teacher, so you are given a bonus incentive for the less desirable occupations (not true for real life, in this case) but you start out with less money (which is true for real life).
You must also decide what you will take with you. Food is essential – but spare parts, clothing, money? What will you actually need and use? So many tough decisions and the trip hasn’t even begun.
Then you have to name your peeps. When you’re seven, the names in your group are either Mom, Dad, Justin, Monica, and Jenny; or Ranger, Sally, Tiki, Shillelagh (all pets) and the name of an inappropriate body part.
Starting down the road, you are faced with more gut wrenching choices. For instance, you approach a river. Crossing the river on The Oregon Trail resonated so deeply with me that to this day I seldom make a decision in life without asking myself – “Should I:
a) Attempt to ford the river?
b) Caulk the wagon and float it?
c) Hire a guide?
d) Wait a few days for the water to recede?”
Quite often in my own life, I attempt to ford the river. With this, some oxen are lost. That is the price that I pay though, for a lack of patience. Occasionally, I’ll caulk the wagon or hire a guide. But option D is against my nature – I never wait a few days for the water to recede.
Side note: For Brandon, my SO, the real issue was not the river crossings, but the hunting of game. While for me, I was able to shoot just what I needed and not be wasteful, he often shot hundreds of pounds of rabbits, squirrels, bucks, and does. More than he was able to carry back to the wagon. For him, the game in his area was always scarce – a real conundrum, but one that will not surprise you (see Sticking to My Guns).
Where am I going with all of this life-mirroring-Oregon Trail-insight? (And by “all” I mean the two analogies I could come up with.)
Well, over the past few months, I have been toying with the idea of freelance writing. Not just writing for fun and national fame, like this blog has brought, but writing for money. With each step towards this goal, I ask myself, “Am I going about this the right way?”, “Is it too soon for me to do this?”, “Should I put it off for a few more years?” The uncertainty of doing something new, putting myself out there, is outrageously intimidating.
However, I love to write. It’s ultimately what I want to do with my life. And that’s a big deal. So usually, as I work to attain this dream, I try to just ford the damn river. So far, not many oxen have been lost, (oxen being my pride, in this case), no one has gotten dysentery, and my confidence has been slowly building.
My trip down the trail hasn’t been so bad thus far.