The Weekly Dracus #8: Dark Souls Life Lessons
Hello, everyone. How’s your Sunday been so far?
As you all may know, I may or may not have a thing for Dark Souls (it’s an amazing series to be honest). In this issue of TWD, I’ll be discussing a rather unusual subject: Life lessons one may learn from playing Dark Souls.
Let’s get to it.
I am going to count down the 10 most important life lessons I have learned (or verified…) through Dark Souls 3 (and previous Dark Souls games).
That’s all there is to it. But do read on. You’ll probably know most of these, but sometimes it’s good to repeat things.
1. Failure is part of life. It can, and probably will, happen at some point, for some reason, for something you are trying to do. But it’s not the end – far from it. You should always persist. Defeat comes only when you surrender.
Life is hard, and cruel, for the vast majority of people. Few people the actual “good” life – and by “good”, I mean a luxurious, carefree, decadent and materialistic life. And “good” in this case, might not always mean “fulfilling” or “satisfying”. But that is not the subject.
In life we are very often met with various challenges, that may at the least, hinder us, or at the worst, make us question our own selves and our place or purpose in this world. But that’s only how life is. And it can be like this for anyone. There’s just so, so many parameters that can go wrong and simply “mess everything up”.
We’ve always had times where we’ve put effort, sweat and blood into a goal, or something that we care about, only to end up not achieving it – in other words, we have failed in it. At this point, most of us would exhibit unstable emotions, general agitation, and negativity towards many aspects of the world and of our lives. This is only natural, of course, but we have to learn to recover from it.
Life doesn’t take sides. What seems cruel to us, is merely neutral – a twist of fate, so to speak. It could happen to anyone. “But why us–” It could happen to anyone.
If you try to answer the question, “Why did it have to happen to [insert pronoun]?”, you’ll end up with the looping answer, “It could happen to anyone.” Because this is how it is, but we always have to make more of things, don’t we? We sure do, and again, it’s natural. We have to try to comprehend the universal theory of things.
We are but a single thread in the tapestry, and although our color may brightly shine, it’s very hard to see our purpose in the pattern of the grand design.
2. Our actions and the consequences thereof are permanent. No one is perfect. We must learn from our past mistakes, and move on. Running from our problems doesn’t solve them for us. Always set a new goal in your life. There is always time for change. In the worst case: “Better late than never.”
We make choices in life. It’s how it is, it’s how it must be. If choices were never made for anything, if people didn’t assume initiatives, then we’d be animals at best, and in the worst case, the human race would not have persevered through the eons, to what it is today.
But ever since humans displayed this new characteristic, unique to the human race, their motives and the nature of their actions changed.
That characteristic is free will. It has driven humanity beyond the urges and the simplicity of animal nature, to great and wondrous achievements. It is a glorious gift that all humans possess, and when harnessed properly, can yield spectacular results for themselves, for society, and for the world around them.
But free will is, unfortunately and most of the times, abused. This leads to actions that the common human consensus would deem “unjust”, “indecent” or “evil.” And so it is, indeed. Yet how it is that even seemingly “good” people end up making the “wrong” or “bad” choices?
We, again, here address the “human nature”. We were not born perfect, and we were certainly not born masters of our will. It is ours, certainly, and this doesn’t mean that we cannot actually control it, but the human mentality can be more complex than the inner workings of the cosmos itself sometimes.
What triggers an action in our unconscious mind, how it is interpreted by our subconscious, and how it is manifested in our conscience and in our actions, is sometimes beyond explanation.
Thus, there are always bound to be errors made by people, accidental or otherwise. And “people” includes each and every one of us.
We may make wrong choices, and we very often have to suffer from their consequences. Sometimes, even worse, we try to run from them, and so they become bigger and more difficult to confront – and this usually leads to them devouring us.
What is done, is done. We cannot change it, but we can learn from it. That is all we can do. And we must not linger on what is past.
Then again, if something is troubling us, we must not falter and retreat in fear or in disbelief of ourselves. That will cause the problems that we have to confront, to haunt us for as long as we try to avoid them. Face challenges head on, when the time comes. Never run from them.
And when there isn’t a challenge, set one for yourself. Remaining inert renders us incapable of handling potential problems that may arise in the future.
If you are troubled by your past, remember that there is always a new beginning waiting for you. There is always time for change, no matter how little time that is. Better late than never.
3. Nothing good comes out of revenge, ever. Hurting others is merely hurting one’s own self.
Admit it. All of us have harbored hostility towards another person at some point in our lives. Some of us may think it was “justified”, or similar. And it probably was, in the sense that if we were put in a court, the judge would deem us innocent. Would it truly be so, though?
No human is a perfect judge, even more so as a judge of others. Revenge is, at the best case, an act of selfishness or insecurity. At the worst case, it is a crime worse than the original reason that supposedly justified this revenge.
Those who wish to have revenge on others, only inflict pain upon themselves, forcing themselves to bear the burden of a crime and tainting their conscience with a retaliatory act of evil, at the expense of another human being, regardless of whether that person “deserved” the revenge.
Humans are by nature, social creatures. This factor does not imply social interaction, but the existence of social contact. Humans can lead secluded lives, but not at the thought that no other humans exist in the world. That leads to insanity.
This has developed these feelings of solidarity among all humans, that resides in our subconscious. Thus, even when we believe we are hurting another person because they are “the enemy”, we are actually taking a small part of ourselves and casting it into the abyss as well.
4. The world humanity created is not perfect, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be. But we can make it one. And one person can make all the difference.
It is a common conception that we live in a cruel world, as it has been mentioned before. It is no surprise to note that we are the cause that brought the world to this state. But as we said before, there is always time for change.
Just because the world is cruel, doesn’t mean it has to be. We can all manage, through collective strife, to achieve a better world for ourselves, each other, and for the generations to come. And just as importantly, in honor for those before us, who strived for the same thing.
The most impressive thing is, that one person can truly make the difference sometimes. And history has proven this in so many occasions.
5. Victory must be achieved through struggle and sacrifice.
Connecting this to the previous statement above, indeed we can all achieve victory and success. Perhaps not always the success as we could have dreamed it, but in the end, things always find their way for those who are truly conscious and secure of themselves.
Nevertheless, no matter the result we are going for or we expect to get, we will always have to devote effort in struggle to achieve our goal. Nothing can be gained without sacrifice.
If it were so, there would be no purpose for the world as we see it today.We would all simply exist, succeeding the previous generation, waiting to pass on, and be succeeded by the next generations. But that is not so.
6. Good and evil are not inherently the absolute measurements of actions. The actual behind actions must always be taken into consideration.
“Good” and “evil” are human conceptions that measure and deduce whether an action or event was favorable or not to a target of interest.
The world by itself, is not good or evil. It is neutral. The human effect on it however, has shaped many of its aspects that they may be deemed favorable (good) or unfavorable (evil) to humanity. There is no point in hating or praising the world for what it is, because it will always be what it is.
What about humanity itself though? What about our collective, and individual actions? Does “good” and “evil” have purpose here? Are actions inherently good or evil? That is not to be measured simply by the actions in themselves. We require further insight, into the reasoning and motives behind these actions. This additional information is absolutely required when attempting to classify an action as good or evil.
In the end, it is all the manner and form of the motives behind action, and the consequences of these actions, that matter. Always assess such situations on a per case basis, and do keep in mind, that firstly, no one is perfect, and secondly, there is always time to change, and to forgive.
7. Sometimes, it’s more about the journey, than the destination.
As we mentioned above, humans very often take up and assume various goals in their lives. All of these require effort and sacrifice, each to a different extent.
We must never forget that the process of achieving something, does not only involve the end result, but the strife and the journey that leads us to it.
Sometimes, treasuring the entire process, and all of its moments, good and bad, can be more rewarding than the result itself.
And on the contrary, sometimes the end result may feel empty and void, if the preceding journey was unsatisfactory, dull, or unpleasant.
8. Sometimes, the hardest problems have the simplest solutions. Sometimes, offense is the best defense.
We have all had moments in your lives where the problems we had to encounter would seemingly tower over us, and seem formidable, invincible, unconquerable. So much indeed, that the mere thought of them w0uld make us cower and run.
Often times, though, we need only take a moment and consider the situation, and always keep in mind that “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” Seemingly impossible problems, may have the smallest, and most possible solutions, that only require for us to seize the initiative and move on to solve them.
When all of our life problems have put is in the defensive, in a corner, perhaps the best course of action, even the best choice to defend ourselves and our lives, is offense – to attack, to overcome our fears and charge forth in the hurricane of life.
9. The most precious things in life are often the easiest ones to lose. Do not take things for granted. Things could always be so much worse than they are now. Do not fall for the deceit of power, greed and decadence. Materials won’t matter in the end.
The world we live in has endless sources for “evil”. Things that can so easily draw us from things that truly matter, are literally all around us, and are all lurking to seize us and corrupt us, bounding us to their decaying, temporary nature.
Considering our residence in this world is temporary, we have to make the most of it, and never take things that we are graced with for granted. For, sadly, only when we lose something do we realize its true value.
And this is even worse when it comes to losing other people. Thing is, reality is fragile, it’s easy for precious things to be lost. And it’s equally as easy to have our hearts broken for this.
Do not attempt to satiate your hunger for finding purpose in this world with material possessions. Their placebo effects deteriorate at a rapid rate and you would require more and more to satisfy you, trapping you in a vicious circle, void of purpose.
After all, no matter your material possessions, it’s what you do in life, the things that remain, everything that just remains, that matters. The rest is all fleeting.
10. Cowards fear the unknown. Fools take things at face value. Just because you don’t see something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Humans tend to be superficial. In order for things to carry value for the most people, they must have some sort of quantifiable property. Abstractions of the human mind or imagination tend to be cast away as meaningless, worthless, childish and naïve. But how many times, my friends, have looks deceived humanity? Countless. And this will never cease to happen.
We tend to look for proof in things that we expect to exist. Human knowledge is limited however. We’ll never get to know everything by measurement, with pencil and paper. That’s why we have to take a big leap sometimes, and believe in things, in order to progress, in order to move on, in order to make peace with yourself and the incomprehensible complexity of the world around you, and the world beyond you.
No matter what comes before you, how dark and menacing it is, no matter how insuperable a challenge or problem is, you must always stand true to yourself, and have faith in your struggle to overcome it. Because, as we said, we simply, simply do not know. We don’t know what the outcome can be of things. And we possibly do not even know what things around us truly are. Sometimes, believe is what we must, and what we need to do.
Extensive personal experience with the game