You can't scroll backward through life.
Take it from this little video-game dude: You've gotta keep moving forward, even if it seems impossible.
For clarity's sake, I'm going to call this little guy "Chip." He's an enthusiastic fellow, and he's ready to take on the challenge in front of him.
In many ways, Chip's video game world resembles the real world, the one inhabited by you and me. Yes, even though it's entirely two-dimensional, we can learn a lot from Chip's journey.
Here are five takeaways that apply to us nonvirtual human beings:
1. Life is full of obstacles.
You may not have to take on blob creatures or face monkeys throwing fruit at your head like Chip does, but stuff will always get in your way. Chip has to jump over chasms, and occasionally there are chasms he cannot cross.
These holes in the ground in Chip's world are like staring into an endless abyss; they mean certain demise.
But in our world? In the real world? Those moments don't have to mean certain demise. We all sometimes find ourselves staring into what seems like an endless abyss. Whether at work or at home or in our relationships, we've all been there. We all know that feeling. That feeling is part of the human condition. It happens — and it's normal.
And unlike Chip, we can pull ourselves back out of them without having to restart at the beginning of a level.
2. You have to go forward.
Chip's video game world is side-scrolling. (Remember those?) In Chip's world, he can't go backward — he can only move from left to right, or what our minds perceive as "forward."
Welcome to life. Tough break; you can't go back. If you mess something up or something bad happens, you can't undo it. You can only move forward and try to do better in the future.
3. Sometimes life is hard, and that's OK.
In this game, even though Chip's been stuck on the edge of that cliff, staring into the endless abyss for so long that it's starting to snow, he makes the best of his situation.
He can't make the jump, but he doesn't give up; he changes his plans and tackles the circumstances differently than anticipated. He still makes progress while he works on a solution.
When life gets hard, don't let it get you down. Do what Chip does. Find a way to keep yourself safe and work on a solution.
4. We're in this together.
Sometimes you are not the person who is meant to overcome the challenge. I know, it goes against every feel-good movie you've ever seen — you're the hero of your story and you can do it! But as Chip demonstrates here, sometimes in order to succeed, you need to let others help you.
Championing others and supporting them in their positive efforts is a vital part of living a full life, no matter our circumstances.
5. Give kids the tools they need to understand the world around them, then step back and let them jump.
Hey, parents — this one is hard. Chip and his partner have been stuck on the edge of this cliff for so long now, he's gone grey. But he knows his daughter doesn't need to spend her life on one side of the cliff.
So he teaches his daughter the best he can how to survive in this side-scrolling, chasm-filled world and lets her jump. And he knows she can't take anyone with her.
Now it's her story. And she has to go forward, independent, and follow her own side-scrolling adventure.
For those of us who have kids, we know that eventually they have to grow up and face the world. We can't hold them back or protect them forever, and we definitely can't live their lives for them. We just have to do the best we can and hope our kids will land safely when they make their own way.
Sure, life is hard. Obstacles threaten to stop our progress. Sometimes these obstacles are bigger than we are alone. When we work together, though, we can find a solution and make progress toward it. This progress will benefit those who come after we are long gone.