As I get older I start to slowly begin to understand more about myself and the interests I love and appreciate more and more. Recently my love for D&D has grown rapidly and after every session the party I play with has, I get that sense of high you get after a good workout or a great movie. And it had me reflecting on how something that has been introduced into my life can have such a significant impact on my emotional state in both enjoyment and anticipation and I realized my enjoyment for TTRPG (Table Top Role Playing Games) especially D&D comes from my love of stories.
To fully explain I have to go back to my childhood (just a few years I swear) cue nostalgic cloud memory cut.
In my early childhood, there was a lot of change in my life. My parents got divorced, and my sister and I moved from a city to a small town with my mom and her boyfriend, soon-to-be husband, when I was just old enough to start to understand what was happening around me, around 4-5 years old. I was introduced to a new family, that being three new stepbrothers, two being one year younger and one year older than me, living on a plot of land about 25 minutes or so from the town itself with our house holding very little technology that bordered the edge of a giant forest and subsequent valley that stretched towards the horizon.
I should mention that the household grew slowly over the years, it started with 5 of us then became seven as I was progressing through primary school around grades 3-4. It was during these early years without television or a phone to distract me that I was introduced to my school’s library. And in this early stage of my life, I began to develop a voracious appetite for books. I would have to wait after school for my older siblings to finish and it was here that I stayed reading quietly in the corner being introduced to Fanny and her two siblings Jo and Bessie as they adventured amongst the boughs of the Faraway Tree, moving swiftly onto Charlie’s expeditions through the wondrous chocolate factory and Sophie’s terrifying journey to the land of giants as she is “kidsnatched” by a rather strange, yet surprisingly tender Big Friendly Giant slowly befriending him over the course of her story to the endearing Hiccup and his bumbling clumsiness trying to live up to his lineage.
You see Dear, Reader, these characters lived alongside me. They were the refuge I sought in a storm of change, not only in my personal life but also in growing up in a time when I barely knew who I was or where I fit in the world as every kid growing up goes through. And as I ate and ate more of these stories their patterns started to become more transparent to me, I started to see behind the curtain, and slowly my mind began to expand from stories on the page to stories in my mind.
Looking back it seems a bit droll and predictable: A young boy experiencing his bildungsroman learning to deal with a family that felt very different from himself, to two stepbrothers that shared very little interests with me resulting in a very solitary childhood. I skip and cut the hard times, the times of isolation and hardships, not to shy away from these memories but to explain that I never viewed my solitary upbringing as a bad thing? I found solace in myself, Dear, Reader.
And in a way, this is where it started.
This is where my love of stories started to slowly emerge from my mind into a part of my real-world life. Throughout my childhood, I could be found outside in the yard happily waving a stick around talking to myself for hours on end, my place of preservation, my place of solitude and happiness. I went on my own adventures described in the books I consumed for sustenance a tribute to my soul. I lived my own renditions of these stories molding my interests and desires into existence on a small patch of grass neighboring the edge of a vast and endless valley tipped at the edge of a forest; inviting and scary.
I still look back fondly remembering snippets of my overactive imagination the silly crossovers and badly intoned accents. My love of stories became a part of me, it influenced how I acted with those around me, how I dreamed and yearned, and more importantly, showed me how to view the world perspective by perspective. Stories have always been a powerful tool to remind us of times before and allow us to envision times ahead. Stories create a bubble, safe haven, and even respite in turbulent worlds for children, teens and especially adults.
My love and understanding of stories have changed and grown over the years, I predict and understand the roots of stories now, the deepness of their origins rather than just being able to appreciate their fruits or flowers, I see how stories have become a tool for me to use and show others. Being a teacher stories have shaped how I share and inform my students changing perspectives from institutionalized doctrines such as grades being the be-all and end-all. I found endless enjoyment in sharing my love of books and stories with my students allowing them to have that same safe afforded haven and space I once used in my own corner, my own bubble.
And recently and perhaps most importantly for myself, I have started to use stories to self-reflect and introspect my consciousness -which sounds rather high brow and boring- but playing D&D and interacting with novels and characters that are so far removed from myself and being in their shows both through my D&D character’s voice or even through living vicariously through the character’s journey it reveals so many mundane but also unseen parts of myself. I realize how I would change and act given example scenarios I have never been or would never be presented with. I create moments of joy and sadness with a life not of my own and it allows me to reflect on why I would make that choice and if given the same scenario how would I react in that circumstance.
I guess Dear, Reader I want to share my love of stories in this post with you. Reflect and reminisce on my past a bit and let you a little into my soul enough to let you ponder your own.
A lot of the pieces I write and most of the content I create are for myself I like to share the things that bring me joy in the hopes they inspire others to do the same or just appreciate something new.
So to end allow me a little indulgence and sit with me here, in this moment, appreciating the things that bring us joy. Those parts of ourselves that we appreciate more the longer we stay and develop them, but also just these short instances of being present in the here and now.