I noticed a thing recently when I was playing Beat Saber (the VR game I’ve been blatting on and on about), and in order to describe it I have to show you what the game looks like, so here is a GIF of actress Brie Larson playing it on The Tonight Show for some reason:

You see how the blocks are coming at her, and that there is space between the procession of blocks as they advance: first it’s this one, then it’s that one, and so on. (There’s also space between them horizontally, but I’m referring to the speed at which they travel.)

In more difficult modes the speed is greatly increased and therefore the blocks are pretty much flying at you, bam bam bambambam.

When I first started looking at the harder modes I couldn’t even see that space between the blocks; they appeared to be coming at me so quickly my brain could not catch up. The blocks were moving in a kind of blur that didn’t visually resolve in time for me to make any kind of decision — like trying to follow a directional sign as you go roaring by at 200 MPH.

But now that I’ve been playing for a while, I can see that distance plain and clear. It’s not a matter of having memorized the patterns of a particular song, either, it’s just straight-up a perception shift. Even when I’m playing unfamiliar songs those blocks now appear to have more distance. The better I get at the game, the more time I seem to have to recognize and react.

It’s as though the blocks are now moving more slowly than they did before, which of course isn’t true in the sense that however Beat Saber’s digital element movement is quantified (I assume it involves the kind of math that also has, like, letters), it remains the same during each same-mode play-through. The thing that changed was me.

Okay, sorry, I do realize this is sounding like I’m gearing up for an absolutely idiotic wrap-up, like if we would only search the Beat Saber distance of our hearts, blah blah blah fishcakes.

I just thought it was interesting, and yes, fine, maybe a little inspiring. A thing I saw one way that seemed impossible, and then the way I saw the thing changed, and therefore so too did its impossibility.


Mad respect for the shark’s streamlined singular purpose, the cheetah’s Pilates-limbed booster mode, but the animals I am most enamored with are made of softness. A radius of pettable fur and ideally, selfishly, carrying a few more pounds than is advised for their species. I can’t seem to extend this love for my own mammal self, though. I fiercely eradicate most of my own fur and despair over the squish of my tender body for its refusal to transform into a more armored and aerodynamic shape.

Somewhere in the cave of my heart I want to be a round-bellied puppy, a gloriously chonky longhaired cat stretched out on her side, a young piglet happily rooting for who-knows-what, a well-fed quokka with a Mona Lisa smile.

The heart-cave is a hot mess, though. My god, have you looked in there? It’s more of an overstuffed attic filled with everyone else’s bullshit. You can’t get from one side to the other without being ensnared by some wiry tangle of bad programming.

You may have noticed, it is so very hard to get rid of.

My heart often gets confused by everything it is surrounded by and I forget that it is okay to be soft and to love soft things. There my heart beats behind a fortress of ribcage because of its own vulnerability and sometimes I want to be shut tight and water-sealed and hidden away from sight and sometimes I just want to crack wide open and let hot summer sunshine come pouring in.

Inside of me are five trillion stern sets of instructions that all lead to unyielding locations but all I want is the hand-drawn one, the paper-napkin treasure map written in crayon that’s all wobbly dashed lines and a great big X to mark the spot where the stubborn soft animal of me is held and maybe even cherished for its lack of predatory features.


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