“He wondered briefly what it would be like, working all your life for one zaibatsu. Company housing, company hymn, company funeral.”–William Gibson, Neuromancer
The works of William Gibson introduced me to the Japanese term “sarariman”. A salaryman. A company man. Starts at the bottom of the company and rises to the top. Has a measure of security paid for by conforming to the larger organization. Life is explained in terms of the company, of the job. Company housing, company hymn, company funeral.
I never wanted to be a salaryman. My ambitions have never been about power and position. I want to make beautiful things. Not even useful things, though I’m not opposed to that, I guess. I want to make things of beauty and wonder. Things that are totally frivolous and yet filled with meaning because they are frivolous. Art, poetry, games. To quote from Dead Poets Society:
We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.
I never wanted to be a salaryman. So how did I end up here?
I started off this series talking about how it was therapy for me. I’m glad if this has been useful or interesting to all of you, but, honestly, my first audience was myself. I needed to tell myself my own story, remind myself that I truly believed some things were of value, that they really are of value, dammit, no matter what they say.
So, I guess that worked. But now what?
I wish I knew.
As I’ve thought about this, I’ve formed this idea. An artist needs two related communities: a community of fellow artists to work together and develop their ideas; and a community that is his audience, that he is making art for. Once upon a time, the Forge provided me with my design community and my design audience. Now that’s gone. So, where do I find my communities?
Do I need to broaden my sense of art? Lately I’ve been toying with the idea of “experience architect”, which seems to combine several aspects of design that interest me. This is my attempt to name the intersection of game design, game mastering, DJing, party planning, and user experience which seems to fascinate me. Maybe there’s something in this. Somewhere.
Here’s one thing for sure. I don’t want to hide in my games anymore. I want to be able to delight in games, which, paradoxically, means that I need to not seek my delight in games. Jesus talked about seeking the kingdom of God and trusting God to provide (Matthew 6:33). I have to be straight with you: I’m not really sure how to do that. After having been a Christian for thirty-five years, it really seems like I should. But I feel like I’m working on unlearning what I’ve been told it is.
It’s not about political activism.
It’s not about personal morality.
It’s not about “being nice”.
It’s wherever people love God by loving each other. And Jesus said that this kingdom of peace will spread throughout the entire world.
And, in that kingdom, there’s a place for me.
I’ve never felt like I’ve really belonged somewhere. There’s always some reason why I’m on the outskirts looking in, and I’ve spent the last several years having that reinforced.
But that’s changing. And maybe, in the middle of it all, I’ll begin to learn that Jesus actually likes me and has a place for me where I belong and fit. And maybe, if I learn to believe that, I’ll be able to put down my fears and insecurities and doubts and live boldly and make beauty.
Over the last couple of years, I was introduced to the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi: finding beauty in aging and change, understanding that all is journey, not destination. It teaches me to find joy in the journey, to embrace impermanence, to accept failure and mistakes as part of the process, to learn that everything is a work in progress.
That I am a work in progress.
And that makes me beautiful.
I am beautiful.
What does all this mean for my life with games? Some snapshots:
Last Friday I ran Dread for the gaming group, which is the first time I’ve GMed in a year or so. It went well. Next up: Tech Noir, I think. I’ve only been promising it for months….
Showdown continues to poke its way towards completion. A busy spell at work interferes, but that will soon pass.
There’s lunchtime gaming at work. Honestly, the biggest reason I haven’t participated is because I’ve been writing this. Maybe time will permit more participation on my part in the near future.
Ralph and I have discovered Leviathans, which probably needs more attention from us.
More Netrunner cards are being released, and Crystal and I are ready to start deck building.
And who knows what else the future holds?
So, Dad, this was all your fault. Hope you’re happy. 🙂