Webcam selfie: taken as I sit and write this article
How do we make it all count?
I don`t follow everything my partner does within the hobby, just most things. Stevie has a passionate interest in some historical areas which don`t really interest me nearly enough to want to follow in any serious way, let alone cover on the table top. Such things would include most of World War II (but I do like the more whimsical semi rpg Dads Army approach of things, like “Bolt Action” skirmish scenarios). Nor do I follow World War One or Colonial Afghan, Sudan, India, Zulu, or Boer Wars (though I do enjoy 20`s and 30`s Pulp `Indiana Jones` style semi rpg and skirmish). I have no interest in the American Civil War.. though I do like Roman Britain, especially Boudicca and Dark Ages King Arthur (i.e. the last days of Romans in Britain... aka Marion Bradley`s “Mists of Avalon” novels). English Civil War could interest me, but Stevie has talked endlessly for more years than I can mention, about running a rpg and wargame campaign set in these time (and nothing ever came of it) so I sort of went off the boil with this one. I do enjoy Tudor and Stuart history in as far as period costume drama goes, but whether I ever `get into` the subject as a game, is now debatable.
With fantasy, unlike Stevie, I don`t share any interest in Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Middle Earth, Super Dungeon Explore, or Standard D&D (though I do like horror.. aka Ravenloft and so on).
The rest I am interested in: Zombies, Gothic stuff, Weird World War I and II, Pulp, some superhero stuff like: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Gotham, Dark Knight (in small-ish doses), and the wartime Captain America material (you will note in this genre, my interest stems from films and series, not comic books, which I simply don’t have time for lol). The rest of the HeroClix range doesn’t interest me much, probably because I`m not a comic book fan like the rest of the household is; but I do very much enjoy some of the films and TV series.
Mostly I am interested in the genre of gaming called “Imagi-Nations” or “Imagi-Worlds” by some. Though I rarely seem to find time to play games or write about any of this nowadays, as I am too caught up on more current projects.. usually supporting Stevie, Tarot or the club(s) in something or other. But my old blogs on the subject probably best describes what this is all about:
I also enjoy boardgames like Wizard of the Coasts Dungeons and Dragons Adventure System games, Fantasy Flight Games Arkham Horror and Talisman, Flying Frog Productions Last Night on Earth, A Touch of Evil and Shadows of Brimstone. Or Cool Mini or Not`s Zombicide and Black Plague. But already you can see, my likes (and I`ve not mentioned them all, for fear of sounding like a shopping till receipt) number a considerable number of divergent hobby/gaming topics.
Steve has mentioned many, many times (indeed, it is a pet `rant` of his, and justifiably, I honestly have to say), that in the old days of the hobby, people tended to think about it deeply, contemplate their options, and then collect in just one.. POSSIBLY two interests, and spend their hobby lives collecting for their few chosen subjects, with deep, focussed passion that endures for their entire lives. “What a rich and wonderful way to pursue a hobby “ I often always find myself thinking.
Painstakingly and lovingly purchasing models few at a time, and painting them to add to their games a bit at a time, over an entire lifetime: playing games on a depth of detail which most modern gamers would shiver in fear at (most people nowadays are used to having everything nice and easy and digestible on a plate). Hard work right? Not these good old diehard types of yester year. These guys would study their subjects until they were literally amateur experts in their chosen field(s) and the pleasure they got out of their passion was obvious for all to see: and the only proof you needed to witness this was to look at the sheer bulk of stuff these good people managed to get done, and achieve with their hobby. Of course, most of them will never be known about. Ordinary people like you and me. But some big names do (never the less) crop up: people like H.G. Wells, Alfred Hitchcock, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Edward Woodward.
But back to the relevant point. Just looking at my own interests within the hobby (and I`m a woman, and tend to be more frugal and, perhaps even, slightly more focussed than many guys.. Stevie would say I`m more mean with money hehe: but the point here is, even possessing a frugal streak a mile wide), I find myself following over a dozen subjects within the hobby. A DOZEN *gulp* WOW!! Now, without having to analyse this too deeply at all, already I can see this sorry state of affairs is simply ludicrous. How can one possibly enjoy so many things all at once.. or even consecutively (as many convince themselves they can effectively do... rubbish of course, because it MIGHT be true if they consolidated and just tried to `play` and `enjoy` with their already overly vast collections, but they don`t.. they keep accumulating and adding MORE and MORE to the horde, making the problem worse than ever), and so this brings me neatly to the title of my article musing: just how do we make it all count? How do we go about making sure we don’t waste so much time drifting between subjects, and allow ourselves to focus on just a few deep passions, so we get really good at these and even (through time) become, somewhat, amateur experts in our chosen fields of interest?
The answer is simple. Actually Stevie got it right a few years ago, then chickened out and started to regress again. He tried to cull his beloved precious treasures, and started to `let things go`. He was doing amazingly well, and managed to give away, sell, or throw away about %50 of his hobby collection: and interestingly, never once regretted any of it, never looked back, and was happier for it. However, the allure of Kickstarters and `things he simply couldn’t live without` got the better of him and he slowly started to build up the pile all over again. BUT he realised what he was doing and has redoubled his efforts at culling the flood of new things, and is actively letting things go again, determined to bring his lifelong addiction of BUYING hobby stuff to a halt and (simultaneously) remove maybe %90 of his current collection, allowing him to concentrate on just a few things which really matter to him. And yes, I am very proud of him for this. And yes it brings me to a point of looking at myself, and thinking *gulp* I`m in danger of being just as guilty myself.. with my dozen or so interests.
It was the moment I watched (in open mouthed surprise) Stevie give away his entire Dungeons and Dragons collection of books, and his entire Dungeons and Dragons Adventure System boardgames, that I really sat up and took note. This was all only a month ago, and my admiration for him was beyond measure. NOT for getting rid of stuff (I`m not that mean, and I know how hard it is for him to do this) but I am proud of him for DOING something he realises he must do for himself, so he can be free to pursue the things within the hobby that are important to him. It’s so easy to look at what we have and say to ourselves, “I will let some things go” and then we look around and say: “Oh but I need this, and this, and this, and I LOVE that, and....” before you know it, half the things you SHOULD let go, you end up keeping simply because we harbour such a covetous need to hold onto things, even though the wise course of action would be to LET THINGS GO.
So what happens? We start out trying to cull, but end up just letting a few things go (ending up as a waste of time, and we might as well just have kept the stuff in the first place) but never truly break free and end up at the place we need to be mentally... free of the endless addiction of collecting more and more and more and more and more; and aimlessly convincing ourselves each time that we NEED the new stuff we are buying, as though it will somehow make us happier by doing so.
And so again I refer to the title of my musings: How do we make it all count? I think the answer would be the same as I would give to a cigarette smoker. Don’t get addicted in the first place. But let’s say (metaphorically) you are already a smoker, hook line and sinker. Similar to being addicted to endless buying of hobby stuff.. you will get the parallel I`m trying to make, I`m sure. I think my advice, the same as if I were advising and trying to get a smoker to quit; would be to just STOP (no quick fix ever truly works, no nicotine gum, no patches, no distractions), just mental willpower and an honest desire to change. Throw away your spare packets of cigarettes.. none of this, “oh I`ll just smoke these first then I`ll give up”. When the desire to quit take you, strike while the iron is hot, and do it there and then. Flush those cigarettes down the sink, and prepare yourself for the cold turkey and the pain ahead. If you succeed, you will find yourself free of the bad, and become a far happier person for your efforts.
So how does this all apply to me? Well, watching Stevie go through cold turkey to be free of his VAST collections, his ball and chain, forged link by link himself over literally years of over indulgent collecting, it all made me take close stock of my own hobby. I asked myself “what is it you like about the hobby and what do you want to do to enjoy it more?”
The answer to myself was three fold.
1) Watching Tarot enjoy her hobby, realising just how much has sunk in, with all our guidance and help to her, at getting the most out of the hobby: it dawned on me that looking at her, her drive, energy and sheer focus, was just how I used to be: and I realised how much I was missing out and stealing from myself, by darting back and forth between interests so much of my time. Tarot is doing it RIGHT, and I am not, is the bottom line - and this minor epiphany was like a sharp slap on the cheek; but I was glad of it. It all made me realise what I needed to do.. cut right down on my butterfly approach to all the lovely and wonderful things that are oh so readily available and on offer for the `spoilt for choice` gamer to indulge in.
2) I need to put my money where my mouth is. I am a trained professional therapist and hypnotherapist. I get PAID to help others (who come to my studio) overcome their addictions, fears and phobias. So I needed to wise up and start doing what I normally preach.
3) When I look back, I have been in this hobby many, many years. It’s even how me and Stevie met: at a game club. Looking back through the years, my happiest gaming days were when I followed a couple of interests thoroughly: Vampire the Masquerade, and Fantasy rpg and table top gaming.. plus model collecting and painting within this era. How did I ever get so lost in so many additional subjects. The answer there is choices.. there are simply too many choices available now to the average gamer. The hobby is a commercial one, and we are the poor victims of it all, as too much choice simply causes us to fall prey to the system the game company sellers desperately WANT us to be caught up in. We are their bread and butter. But all I have to do is step off that merry-go-round and find peace and harmony, happiness and contentment with just a few things that really matter to me. In my case, converted Hero Clix (especially with Tarot ), Chibi/Anime gaming, and possibly s deeper immersion into Arkham Horror. And that`s IT. No more lol.
SO yes, I think maybe I really have found the answer to that elusive question:
How do we make it all count?
Me and Him
We live in a throw away society nowadays, where all that is wonderful and new today, quickly gives way to the next newest thing to hit the shelves or the on line pages (like kickstarters). Going against the tide against overwhelming odds takes amazing discipline, and this is why I have the most incredible admiration for those who take what they already have, and re-kindle and re-vamp these things into something fresh (like Simon does, and like Andy does, and Jez does too). Its what we all did as kids in a much simpler past: if we didn't have that super duper toy that sold in the shops beyond the range of our pocket money or our poor old parent`s wage packet, we made do with what we already had, and customised our existing things into other things, when we couldn't afford to go the expensive route.
There is a saying. "You can`t fill an already full breakfast cup, you must empty it before you can re-fill it with fresh tea". Simply put, by de-cluttering, this not only allows our brains breathing space to focus on new thoughts, but also allows us to concentrate on the important stuff as well.