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This article might contain spoilers for Journey.
No one really needs me. For the most part, I'm entirely useless.
If the purpose of life is to make it to the end, it's a journey everyone will finish. The people that depend on me, that look to me for advice and comfort, won't simply stop living when I'm gone. I'm an attachment, a curiosity or desire, on the road to death.
But the purpose of life isn't simply to make it to the end. It's about the journey. It's how I treat the people that come into my life, how I help them or hurt them, that makes me matter. It's the difference between a life and a life worth living.
I think about this as I enter a series of sprawling, dark caves in thatgamecompany's most recent downloadable release, Journey. I think about being alone. I'm alive and making my way forward, but I feel lost. I'm disconnected. I find myself wondering what the point of the game is.
And it's in that moment of confusion that I meet someone. A person who will change my journey and change the way I live my life, forever.
The stranger signals to me from afar, as if to say hello, and I meet the individual in the center of the cave. I follow him or her for a few moments, when suddenly the being sings to me. I don't know why, but it feels like a warning. The stranger leads me in the direction of a side path, but I don't move. I'm trying to see what I'm being warned about, when I noticed a bright light moving toward me. Before I understand what's happening, the stranger steps in front of me, into the light, and is lifted up in a blinding haze as a monstrous shriek fills the void around us.
In a fiery flash, the character is gone.
I dash to the farthest and darkest corner of the cave and cower in the shadows, paralyzed by the shock of what just happened. Someone I didn't even know just saved my life.
After a while, I make my way to the exit slowly, careful now to avoid the searchlights. I don't want to be alone anymore. I've decided that I need someone. The best way to make it through this journey is with a friend.
Before my voyage ends, I'll meet several traveling partners — some just acquaintances, others close companions. With wordless communication, we'll show each other how to avoid the game's harsh winds, which threaten to topple us from a mountain's summit. We'll lead each other to safety, huddling together in hiding spots as we evade terrifying flying monsters. We'll boost the luster of each other's scarves, allowing us to soar through the sky without reprieve.
When I reach the end of things, I'll keep those companions with me. That stranger who sacrificed his or her life for mine. My friends and family. My neighbors. And even my enemies. I'll find that I needed them all to help me grow — to help me be better. To teach me. Not to survive, but to thrive.
In the end, I'll realize that together, we can give a journey meaning and make a life worth fighting for.