“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

I’ve been playing a lot of Minecraft in the last few weeks. It’s been a nice break from the everyday. I haven’t played much over the past few years so there are a lot of new things to find and explore.

The home I’ve built has a wooden roof outlined in stone, a small wheat farm nearby, and sugar cane growing adjacent to the small creek. I fenced in the entire area to keep me safe at night. The storage chest and some of the first items I made/gathered are still beside my first bed, a homage to my first few nights trying to survive. One of the rooms in the home now leads downstairs to a large open area scattered with poorly-filtered storage chests, an enchanting table, anvil, and potion brewing stand. Nearby is a dual staircase with the right side down to an underground farm and the left side leading up to my animal pens. The underground farm was made using acacia wood and stone, with wheat and potatoes speckling the orange and gray of the wood and stone. The animal pens were made using birch wood and stone, which nicely contrasts the spotted cows, sheep, and chickens. At the end of my farm is another staircase heading downward, leading to a large, hollowed area where several tree varieties are growing in different underground rooms (this is Minecraft, after all). Further below still, a strip mine is slowly expanding outward as the demand for simple, common resources like iron and coal increases.

On the surface, there are several large stone monuments, littered with torches, indicating spots where I surfaced from below after a long day of exploring, should I want to later revisit. A nearby river meanders through a not-so-distant desert. I’ve built a dock nearby so I can fish from sunrise to sunset. As night falls, I sleep to avoid the hostile mobs that spawn in darkness, not far outside of my well-lit home. When I wake up the next morning, I do it all again, whatever it is. There certainly is something to be said for the allure of simplicity, and the happiness we find tucked within.

The official Minecraft soundtrack by C418 is, much like the game itself, deceptively simple and endlessly complex. Several tracks are gentle piano melodies draped with light, organic synths. The game plays them when you are safe in your home, on your farm, or fishing on the dock as the sun sets. Conversely, tracks like “Oxygène” and “Thirteen” are hollow, ghostly shells of their companions that remind us of the dangers that lurk beneath, or in the darkness, or as we dig underground and are about to break through into a cave. C418’s soundtrack fits so perfectly into Minecraft’s adventurous, exploratory nature. Deep into this pixelated, synthetic world, things feel very real. The hard part to accept is not the fact that this world is not my home, but the realization that it feels more like home to me than home ever did.