In Getting Out vs. Giving In, pt. 1, I introduced an idea I’ve been nutting out about the things we invest ourselves in that aren’t really for us, and that we can tell the difference between them and the things that really matter by figuring out whether we’re getting out or giving in.
I’m focusing the content of this post on the first idea: How to tell when we’re getting out of something that doesn’t matter. And I’m doing so by talking about a very recent example: my realisation, after over two and a half decades in the hobby, that I needed to get out of tabletop roleplying games.
An example of Getting Out: Tabletop Roleplaying Games and I
If you’ve known me a while, you’ll know I’m interested in tabletop roleplaying games; I have been since my early teens.
You’ll also have a fair idea that I often struggle with this hobby. I have desire and heaps of ideas (not to mention lots of product) but they rarely turn into actual games.
I’ve been “out” for a while; I couldn’t tell you with any certainty when my last game was.
Just recently though, I started to get that tickle again.
I was watching Wil Wheaton and the Tabletop crew playing the board game, Fortune and Glory. Its pulp stylings reminded me of a set of RPG rules, Spirit of the Century, sitting on my shelf.
There it was: That sugar rush of excitement. Of rules and systems and places and heroes. Let’s run a game, Rob.
I re-joined the Cairns Tabletop Roleplayers group on Facebook and posted about my interest. I wound up roping in Chris and Shantelle, and then a Netrunner player named Rory at The Wicked Goblin. We did character creation and decided to try a session the week after.
The week rolled by. I made sure to place the Spirit of the Century rulebook elsewhere until game night; I wanted to see how well it did the whole “pickup” idea it was built around. then came the morning of the game. Yet still, during that week I was tense.
No, “tense” isn’t enough. It was… okay, you know how people talk about “flow”? That state when action and effort aren’t work, when you’re zen, in the moment, doing something that brings you, if not joy, then peace?
Well, for me, preparing and GMing a roleplaying game is the exact opposite of flow.
It’s odd. The idea of a roleplaying game feels like it ought to be right up my alley, yet I’ve almost never truly enjoyed the reality of it. I’m either bored or all control freaky.
Even when I was staying away from the kit and tying not to think about it, I was stressing. (Just imagine what I was like when I was preparing campaigns for Heavy Gear or Cyberpunk or Deathwatch or…)
I was packing the rule book and other paraphernalia into my bag on the morning of game night when it hit me:
If this went to plan, I’d be giving up playing actual board games when I went into the wicked Goblin every other Thursday for board game night.
No more laughs around the table playing something like Galaxy Trucker or King of Tokyo (or even, God help me, Cards Against Humanity) with Chris or Shantelle or Thomas or Andrew or Ian or Dani or any of the rest of the mob.
I took Spirit of the Century and its accompanying paraphernalia back on the bookshelf – and immediately felt happy and relieved. When it came down to choosing starting an RPG over something else that I knew created fun amidst a bunch of intelligent and witty people, the choice was very bloody easy and supremely gratifying.
Heck, on the last board game night I went to, we played Android: Netrunner and Love Letter and a couple of other board games, and I don’t feel like I missed out on a damned thing by not playing or running Spirit of the Century.
So I even went as far as taking photos of my collection of RPG products – itself a scant shadow of what it was a decade ago – and put them up in the various Cairns gaming groups on Facebook, saying “willing to accept any offers, but still free to good homes.” It’s a little sad, but I’d rather live with that slight sadness of nto having them any more compared to the frustration of owning – or being owned by – something I don’t use (and don’t really want to either).
Make it about extremes
I think we let things that don’t matter to us into our lives because they don’t seem like big deals. Yet they are.
So think of something else in your life that you know you honestly enjoy without guilt (or, at least, as little guilt as possible), something that you don’t stress yourself over. Put the two of them together and ask yourself:
If I only had time to do one of them, which would I rid myself of?
It may even be that much of a situation. We only have so much time in our days, weeks, lives. Maybe you need to make room in your life for the things that do matter, even if you don’t know what they are yet.
Make the space and time available, then see what you fill it with that really means something to you. With less noise in your life, fewer things pulling your attention toward them, you’ll have a better chance of finding (or rediscovering) what’s important.
So now I know what it feels like to walk away from something that isn’t really me. What is it like to walk away from the things that I can’t walk away from?
What are you doing?
What did you realise you needed to get out of? How did you come to the realisation, and how did you deal with getting it out of your life?