I was going through some old files looking for an old paper I wrote when I came across this school essay Ping and I came up with a few years ago when we were working on her school application. Now it reads a bit, um, tacky. But I liked it a lot back then.
Prompt: If you can spend one day as someone else, who would it be? Why?
It would be Mario, the main character in the 1985 Nintendo video game “Super Mario Brothers.”
Who wouldn’t want to be Mario for a day? In one day as him I would be able to travel extensively: through the grasslands, across the ocean and into the woods. It would be a day of fun activities: I can run, jump, swim, break bricks, catch gold coins and collect magic mushrooms. It would be an adventurous day: I would venture through treacherous roads in the Mushroom Kingdom, battle the fire-breathing dragons in the castles and rescue Princess Toadstool from the world of evil.
On the road of adventure I will be rewarded with magic-power plants and gold coins. In other words, as Mario I will collect exactly the two things many people spend a lifetime pursuing: power and wealth. Just like Mario, I will welcome power and wealth, and will attempt to maximize both along the way. I will realize that power and wealth in the Mushroom Kingdom, like those in the real world, often go hand-in-hand, and are sometimes hidden in roads less traveled.
I will also keep in mind that in Mario’s world, power and wealth are only two means to an end. Although the more magical plants and gold coins I collect, the better the position I will be in when facing obstacles, the game is never won by a simple accumulation of either power or wealth—my mission is to rid the world of evil and to save the princess. Coming from a world where “to save the world” is sneered at as a childishly idealistic wish and many regard the pursuit of power and wealth as an end in itself, I hope I can reinforce my beliefs and goals in the day that I spend as him.
Mario seldom achieves his goal on the first try. In all stages but the last, Mario defeats enemies along the way, slays the dragon in the castle, only to find that the lady he rescued is not the real princess. Yet he persists and immediately enters the next stage to embrace new challenges. Even when he makes a fatal mistake and is killed by an enemy, a new Mario picks up from where he left off, and continues the fight. To Mario, the game is never lost. It simply hasn’t been won. His remarkable resilience in pursuing his goal and dealing with disappoints and failures are qualities I hope to replicate, both in the day spent as him and in my pursuits in real life.
An unwavering goal, with the power and wealth to make it feasible, coupled with resilience after failure and a determination to succeed – now that makes one a formidable contender in the adventurous road of life.