The Two Philosophies of the "Invested Vagabond"
Updated: Nov 6
The "Invested Vagabond" is a very special enemy in one of the video games I've been playing recently. I'm bringing this character up because of the symbolism I find within him, and also because he reminds me of Ms. Chen, my so-called "overreaching antagonist" of my life thus far. Allow me to tell you a bit about this enemy before I proceed to analyze him more philosophically.
The "Invested Vagabond" is your archetypical hermit from days of old. Think Yoda or Obi-Wan from Star Wars—that's the guy, with the same old rags and all. The thing is, the game he's in is not some sci-fi world or a fantasy world, but instead in contemporary Japan. He has a cane and his appearance is dirty, with a wild-looking face like a caveman.
Compared to the other enemies in the game, which are already unique, the Invested Vagabond is different, but not in an edgy or pretentious way. He looks like he belongs in a cave rather than the underground of a Japanese city where he dwells. In short, he is like the Hermit in the respective tarot card within a contemporary setting.
The Invested Vagabond is a special enemy because he is a symbol of challenge and investment. He takes interest in each fight he appears in, or else he would stay in the shadows where recluses like him choose to belong. If you manage to defeat him, which is difficult regardless of your power, he will give you a lot of rewards. However, if he loses interest in the fight, he will run away like a coward, never to return during that fight.
For some reason, he is extremely resilient. No matter how good your weapon is, each hit will only make him lose a tiny portion of his health bar. There appears to be nothing you can do to increase the damage dealt to him, but pure chance of a deadly strike. In more advanced terms, he is basically a "Tank", or a character whose purpose is to absorb damage while the other characters on his side attack you with less risk of being hurt themselves. He is both a hermit and someone with great contribution to any fight he decides to join.
He can be a frustrating figure. You can invest the majority of your fight in trying to defeat him, only for him to eventually decide to ditch the fight, thus wasting your time and effort. If he ditches the fight, there is nothing you can do to prevent or restore his decision. Other than that, he is largely absent, found almost entirely in the deep underground network of a Japanese city featured in the game, making him a relatively rare encounter.
The Invested Vagabond is a symbol of challenge and investment. He is a test of your skill, patience, and willingness to risk failure in favor of great bonuses. He is also a reminder that the rewards of success are often worth the risk. Since some rewards deserve to have resources sacrifices for, some risks are worthy to be taken.
If you defeat him while in battle, your reward is guaranteed -- a chance of becoming significantly stronger from the particular fight. If you are willing enough to take the challenge of defeating, then you should do so, even when the odds are basically against you, due to his possible decision to ditch the fight at any time. It could be in a minute or two, but regardless, it is essentially fight against a randomized limit that can be over at any time. Similar to real life, when contacts may ghost you no matter how much you care for them. A sad reality.
The reason why he reminds me of Ms. Chen is because they both chose to ditch me, and in both cases, I cannot do anything to restore it. If I did things otherwise, perhaps she would continue to stay in my life to this very day. Unrequited love may happen when you make the wrong choices with the other person. Stalking, as presented in this story, is a dangerous, irrational way of loving someone. And it won't get the other person to love you back, either. Love has its own share of wise and unwise decisions, even if it "breeds madness"
Even in the irrationality of love, one must make wise decisions, and wise decisions are made by rationality. It is known as practical reasoning. As such, there is also wise planning that can defeat this Vegabond enemy more quickly, thus reducing the chance of them escaping. Practical reasoning applies in both departments, whether one is invested in love or in gaming.
And like with the Invested Vagabond, it can be too late. I can only imagine the opportunities I would've had if I had made certain decisions at certain moments before her departure. If I only said one word instead of the other, one thing instead of what I actually said, then perhaps my life would've been different.
The Invested Vagabond was invested in the fights he featured in, just as the few women I've had in my life were invested in mine. Somehow, I've failed both kinds often. This enemy symbolizes the guilt of a missed opportunity that will never return (unless you fight another Vagabond in his stead later in your adventure to the depths of the underground). But unlike video game enemies, each woman is a unique person.
I can only imagine how my love life would have been if I had managed to be "victorious" over other women, by "defeating" them before they ditched me, by making them not want to reject me. Once they leave, they are likely to never return. In such cases, I can't know why or when they will return. I don't know why Ms. Chen was invested in me. Her ditching was done by my own foolish decisions, that were punished because they were based on emotion and not logic.
Watching the cursed Vagabond appear before me, I can't help but feel melancholy, whether or not I manage to actually beat him in a fight. If I fail, I will be reminded of my own failure as a man; if I beat him, I will be reminded that I could have done other things in my own life to "win" the hearts of the very few loved ones I had in my life.
A love interest is a special someone, just like this enemy, and even more than him. They are not to be taken lightly, both because of their potential, and because of how easily that potential can slip away, like sand in the wind.
No matter how much you invest yourself in them, nothing will ensure their presence in your company. However, should you manage to "win," then they can change your world, transform you, and make you more experienced ("stronger" in gaming terminology). It is never easy...
Due to the uncertainty of romantic relationships, I've decided to stop looking for them for around 8 years of my life, simply because of how unstable they can be, both practically and emotionally. I didn't want to be "invested" in them because that opportunity could easily go down the drain, along with all the investment I myself have made in them.
Failure is so frustrating.
This enemy is an incarnated oxymoron—a great and wasteful opportunity at the same time. If you invest too much of your time in him, he may escape while the other enemies beat you down without your retaliation, as your retaliation has been invested in him, not them. Imagine being so close to defeating him, only to find him escaping. By the some token, imagine nurturing a connection with a woman, only to find out she ghosted you, despite the time and efforts you put into her.
Both cases remind us of how powerless we are against two things: Chance/luck, and the heart of another. In true love, you must accept the reality of another. And if they leave your presence permenantly, the most painful aspect in true love is to let go.
It's all up to your priorities and your philosophy in life, whether to invest or not in others on a deeper level. Investment, in general, is a gamble. Hence the practicality of philosophy in general—it helps you live better and in line with the truths of life. Perhaps, there are times where gambling resources, even if the only resource is time itself, is worth the bother.
The choice is up to you. Either focus on making attempts, even if you fail, or choose to retreat to only that which is certain even if those are less bountiful. If we are prepared for yet another failure, we may not be as disappointed as otherwise.