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Note 88: The Good Samaritan—rodent version
Loving a mouse, a person, a game
A friend recently shared this story with me (and permitted me to share it here).
Her son and his friends were on their way to school when they came upon an injured mouse. They figured someone had accidentally stepped on it, but they didn't feel good about just leaving it there. So they put together a makeshift stretcher, put the mouse on it and took it to the nearest vet. (“The poor vet!” said their mum to me.)
The vet was bemused, to put it mildly, but said they could leave it with him, and his team would look after it. Only then did they withdraw. My friend said she impressed herself with how she kept a straight face and, as she put it, “an appropriately grave and sympathetic expression!”
It’s the story of the Good Samaritan, isn’t it—except this time with a mouse. And, of course, my friend was justifiably proud of her boy, even as she recognised that as hard work as she’s worked raising them, there’s an element of their growth that even she can’t take credit for.
That’s the thing about life, right? You do all you can to make things work that you care about, and when you’re successful, you know you can’t take credit for all of it—but it also wouldn’t have happened without you doing what you did.
Like I wrote at the start of the essay, The Significant 1%: “There’s very little in life, and in our own lives, that we’re in control of—but that little matters.”
The “little” you contribute is significant. Don’t ever forget that.
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Easier to “love” people than a person
Did you know, by the way, that the original story of the Good Samaritan was in the context of what it means to “love your neighbour”, which is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
The idea of loving your neighbour sounds simple enough on the face of it. But countless things that seem simple only appear so until you try to actually practice them. The thing about loving your neighbour is that it’s super specific. It’s not about good feelings about people in general or thinking nicely of some abstract community. It’s about one particular person that you have the opportunity to interact with in whatever here and now you’re in.
Which of us hasn’t had the experience of missing somebody and feeling warmly about them—only to meet them again and remember how much they grate on our nerves? And the thing is, that doesn’t mean you don’t care about them, it just means people are complicated, and that can make them hard to love.
Fyodor Dostoevsky put it best in his novel, The Brothers Karamazov (affiliate link):
The more I love humanity in general the less I love man in particular. In my dreams, I often make plans for the service of humanity, and perhaps I might actually face crucifixion if it were suddenly necessary. Yet I am incapable of living in the same room with anyone for two days together. I know from experience. As soon as anyone is near me, his personality disturbs me and restricts my freedom. In twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men: one because he’s too long over his dinner, another because he has a cold and keeps on blowing his nose. I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me. But it has always happened that the more I hate men individually the more I love humanity.
Loving your “neighbour” is where the rubber meets the road.
A legendary experience
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom over the past week since it launched. It’s such a great game: from gameplay to the slightly improved graphics and the superb score, but also the moments of wonder and humour that keep popping up. And there are plenty of puzzles that are, as always, gratifying to figure out.
Nintendo has a hit on its hands. They already announced that it sold 10 million copies in its first three days, making it the fastest-selling Zelda game ever. For context, the game it succeeds, Breath of the Wild, sold just under 30 million in 6 years—the sequel has sold a third of that in just three days.
The funny thing is, as things like graphics go, it’s a solidly underpowered game. It couldn’t measure up to what “serious gamers” play on gaming PCs or consoles like the PlayStation 5. But it’s proof that people care about more than just that—because you know what the game certainly delivers on?
A fantastic experience, filled with moments of wonder and delight.
That’s why I wrote in my latest essay that Nintendo is like Apple in how their focus on delivering great experiences is core to understanding their success.
If you haven’t read that yet, check it out here: Apple and Nintendo Succeed by “Being Human.”
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