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(You might wonder what this post has to do with game development or mindset. It's worth it, you'll see...)
Today was the first day during the holy month of Ramadan that I was forced to break my fast early due to my Type 1 diabetes. Now, I was determined to keep all the fasts, as I did last year for the first time in my life, and given the extra technology now at my disposal (a continuous glucose monitor and an insulin pump with hybrid closed loop technology) I thought it was achievable.
But I failed.
My infusion set leaked this morning and I only noticed this when my blood sugar started to rise uncontrollably after my suhoor meal. The problem with this technology is that you have no way of knowing that your insulin delivery has been successful until you see the glucose readings, and then it's impossible to know how badly it has failed. So you have to guess at how much insulin you need to correct the high reading.
If you under-correct, then you run the risk of running an extended high blood sugar, which causes you to urinate frequently as your body tries to get rid of the excess glucose and gives you a raging, unquenchable thirst. This is a hyperglycaemia, and is dangerous for a type 1 diabetic, as uncontrolled, you run the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, which can be fatal. The worst thing for a high blood sugar is dehydration as it accelerates the onset of ketoacidosis, so I'd have to break the fast.
On the other hand, over-correct and you run the risk of hypoglycaemia, which if left untreated, can cause you to lose consciousness, have convulsions and if untreated, die. So that's not an option either.
In either case, get it wrong, and you have to break the fast. I fell asleep at about 6am, having taken a guessed correction dose that was a little on the low side for safety, or so I thought. I woke at 8:30am with a blood glucose of 2.7mmol/l. This was well below my personal threshold of 3.3mmol/l, which by most definitions, is hypoglycaemic, but which during a fast, is bearable for a short period, and if the technology works, it wouldn't stay that way for long. Since my personal threshold was broken and it was still early in the day, and most importantly, I'd agreed this with my wife, I broke the fast.
Now last year, I would have been heartbroken, as my mindset was very much that I wanted to keep a "perfect streak", but this year, I'm different.
In Islam, Muslims acknowledge that we humans are imperfect, and prone to straying. Now, you might ask, how had I strayed according to my religion? Well, I have an easy out with Type 1 diabetes. I am given permission not to keep the fast, but I decided to fast anyway.
So God has given me a mercy, and I decided I was going to fast anyway. Why? Because it is possible. It's difficult, but it's possible, and a fast is meant to be difficult anyway. I thought that given how good my control has been of late, that I could do it. And the fact is that for all of Ramadan until this day, I was able to keep all the fasts comfortably. So, I'm out on a limb, slightly puffed up with hubris, and I have a fall.
Why is my reaction sanguine this year?
In Islam, the quality of humans that Allah loves best is that of tawbah. Very roughly translated into English, this is repentance, but it's more subtle than that. Tawbah means turning back, and more specifically, returning. Why this quality? It's what makes us ascend. We fail, but we keep turning back. It’s the growth mindset. Just because we have failed, doesn’t mean we’re failures.
It's the victory against our demons, or against Satan if you like, or The Resistance, or The Chimp, or The Will To Fail, it doesn't matter what you want to call it, what makes us such a noble creation is that we are not perfect, but when we fail, when we stray, when we falter, when we slip — we recognise the error, we seek the right path again and we stand up. It's our ability to walk on, through the wind, walk on through the rain, though our dreams be tossed or blown.
So I didn't get to keep the fast. I didn't get to boast on Twitter that despite Type 1 diabetes I kept every single fast in Ramadan and look how bloody great I am. And the me of a few years ago would have kept quiet and maybe even given up. And what would have been the point then, of any of my fasting, if it was not for Allah, but for my ego?
So this year, I'm disappointed, but I value the lesson. I will go again tomorrow, inSha'Allah, and I will not have a perfect record, but I will still according to Islamic theology have honoured my obligation, above and beyond it in fact, due to the diabetes, but more importantly, it's because in Islam, niyyah, or intention, is as important as the act itself. That we intend, and that we act and we fail and then we turn back and try again is what makes us so noble.
So onto Chimera. I have wanted to make a video game, an original video game, for so long. I ache to make something meaningful. It is the medium I have been part of since its roots. It's in my blood. I know I can make a game, and yet time and again, I fail and I stop talking about it and I stop doing anything and it's all so embarrassing.
What's different this time is that I know my enemy. I know its tricks, I know what it wants and it wants my abject failure, so that I can return to my comfort zone, safe in the arms of Resistance, in the thrall of Satan, far from the path of niyyah or intention, far from the path of growth and ascension.
Angel: “Make a quick and dirty level!”
Devil: “Let me write a superb, generic energy system first!”
Angel: “Make a quick and dirty level, the code does not have to be good, only progress matters!”
Devil: “Sure, you’re right, but let me write a superb quest system first!”
Angel: “Look, you can do all that when you’ve made a quick and dirty level!”
Devil: “OK, fine, I’ll do it, but let me learn this neat new asset first!”
So now I know I will stray. I know I will take missteps. I know I will fall for the tricks of my comfort-seeking brain. And I will keep turning back. I will know it's OK, because it's not a perfect path to my goal. It's just a star on the horizon, and my job is to keep that star in my sights, and when I lose sight of it, to turn back, and to walk on.