Like Tears in Rain…

Like many who are inclined to game, I have over the years steadily surrounded myself with the permanent records of creative endeavors. Books cram together tightly on my shelves, CDs and digital archives of music fill too many spaces, and spill out into inconvenient places. Collections of film and television series consume even more space. Foremost among these collections of other people’s imagination and drive are the games.

Roleplaying games and my select few skirmish games are as much a part of me as the music, film, and literature which have impacted on the course my life has taken. They have been my passion as long as music has, both having ignited in the same year and both drawing as deeply from my wallet no matter how tight times have gotten. Books have been a part of my life since I was aware of life; books read to me as a child, then words learned early and rapidly advancing in-depth and character. An insomniac, it is to books I first turn to fill the endless ticking hours, and when reading becomes impossible through burning eyes, to music. When ears can no longer be trusted, it is to imagination ultimately that I turn to drown out the clocks and their marching feet of minutes. Standing with me at my worst, it is imagination I prize most of all.

The creativity and art expressed in games is no less in my eyes than that of the great music and literature with which I have bound and fettered myself. It is no less than the shifting cage of possibility, offering shape and suggestion to formlessness, but inciting and inspiring endless variation and personal expression. Games offer their treasure of creation on demand not only to a single creator, but can at their leisure inspire individual and private acts of imagination somehow wrought simultaneously and in collaboration with others, or serve as the shivering frame in which a shared vision is launched across a shifting sea of a group’s own devising.

Isn’t it something how these tangible works of creation spawn intangible worlds of wonderment which are with us, and then as fleeting as a passing thought, are gone like cloud shapes on a windy day?

At uncounted tables, sprawled across unknown numbers of living room floors, crammed into dorm rooms, or adding the illusion of warmth and comfort to empty apartments, game groups dream dreams far grander and more honest than most of the permanent muses which line their shelves and give meaning to libraries. Yet, for all this splendor, these acts of creation vanish in fragments of fading memory; pulled apart like strands of cotton candy at another nameless county fair.

Recaps, campaign logs, the videos of live hangouts on air… while edging us closer to the dream of experience and wonder made permanent, still only tell a fragment of the story. These dreams we share are stronger for the sharing, but are given depth and meaning in the parts we keep only to ourselves. The inner eye guards its secrets well, and in time, grows dim.

In the moment of the game, the play is the thing. The play is vibrant, and the interactions and immersions thrill and bind us together, beckoning us to dream now, and to return again and again to the mutable vista of our mingled words and polyhedral deeds. Once play is done, it is only the story that is left.

When the group is gone; the books on my shelves are closed, hiding their pages; the notes lie dormant in CD cases and audio files; and the timeless, repeating now of home cinema is shuttered and silent, it is the fragments of these stories which entertain and sustain me.

Hoarded, hidden away as private treasures rarely examined – and so often only with narcissistic intent – these gems lose their color. Like the programmed tears of an artifice playing at being a man, they fade into the soft rain of the past, indistinguishable, and beyond recall.

Defy this end.

Share them.

Call up old friends and roll their gems in the warm light of shared recollection.

Tell their stories and listen to them in turn tell yours. Old tales reinvented into new tales through the haze of time, and the filter of friendship, can perhaps – for a time at least – slow the rate at which our candles burn and may perhaps enable us to see the tracks of tears across familiar faces, despite the rain.

Comments
4 Responses to “Like Tears in Rain…”
  1. frankfrey says:

    Anthony,
    Beautiful essay…you have the soul of a Celtic Bard…I am glad of our friendship.

    Frank

  2. Brian says:

    Wonderful as always.

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