I'm introspective. I've spent more than a few hours wondering about why I am the me that I am. I wonder what the alternate reality me who didn't try shoplifting a vanilla wafer when he was five turned out like. And is the me who became a rock-star happy?
Mostly, though, I wonder about the me in this reality. How did I get here? Where am I going? Are there better uses of my time?
A specific topic of pondering I like to indulge is related to my favorite pastime - tabletop rpgs. I got into them the summer between high school and college, but sometimes I think about why.
Gaming is fun. It's a great way to enjoy a story, relieve stress, and hang out with friends. It encourages learning, thinking, teamwork, and socialization. But, it's a hobby with, at least until recently, a certain social stigma attached. My friends and I were stealth geeks. Other than an offhanded reference to failed Dexterity checks or some inside jokes, few people even knew we gamed. But it wasn't because of my friends. I took too it like an mindflayer to brain-juice.
And I think I know why.
When I was very small and we visited my grandparents, my Papaw would lay in bed with us at night and tell rabbit stories. They were always pretty much the same. Every kid in the clan was out in a field rabbit hunting. Each one would shoot at the rabbit and narrowly miss in some fascinating way. Finally, the last kid, almost always the youngest, would hit and the story would end. But even though the story was always the same, with a few improvised variations, I was always drawn in. The story captured me because I was one of the children. Every kid there was included in the story. It was a story about us. It wasn't true. We were way to young to run around in a field unsupervised with a firearms, but I could see it all.
That was role-playing – our pretty close anyway. That was a story game. That was me, rooting for my character, hoping he would be the one to get the rabbit, but still having a blast if he didn't.
When my boys were very small, I used to lay in bed with them at night and tell stories. And my stories were about pirates and knights and talking bears, not rabbits. But, most of all, they were always about my boys.
And now they sit around the table with dice and character sheets, planning to topple villains and shape kingdoms. They write fiction, draw comics, and film movies. And I think the why behind all of that can be traced to my Papaw and those old rabbit stories.