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Archive for December, 2013

This fall has been a harsh one, the type of period in your life that strips you of many things you had hopes for or even took for granted, a pulverizer of dreams and obliterator of many previous efforts. I have never liked the type of people who try to redeem some semblance of control in the face of tragedy, by seeking reasons for it in various individuals or groups of people. Yes he died of Cancer, but did you *know* that he smoked for years…Yes it’s tragic that the people of Haiti suffered a horrible earthquake, but the country was so corrupt and ill prepared, that it’s no wonder they are sinking. All these attempts are just piss poor ways for the weak and the frightened to fake control over that which is not controllable. I know, because I’ve done it myself, only I do it to *myself*, and thankfully not so much to others.

The main thing that happened was that a flood hit Colorado and many people had property damaged or destroyed, there were even some deaths. We did not die, but we did lose all our furniture and suffered heavy damage to our home. And then the insurance company that had sold us our flood insurance hauled out a section in the contract and used it to not pay a dime to us. We are still fighting that, while renting rooms from a friend. We will not have a home for a long time, and we are poor now. There is no other word for it.

This and some other disappointments made me go over in my head what I could have done differently, over and over, in a futile semblance of getting retroactive control over something uncontrollable. The truth is, we did do most things right. We had insurance, we were honest and hard working, we didn’t screw anybody over, we just got screwed.

There are few things harder sometimes, than letting go, getting on with it and moving forward. It can be up there with forgiving the cruel or learning a new language. And it takes a lot of effort, dreary soul sucking effort of the type that makes the color of your everyday life that of old re-fried porridge. In hard, scary, dreary or sad parts of our life, I think many people like me, look for colors. Something which will take us through a particular and awful tunnel. I’ve heard some people on rather high horses say the word “escapism” with *that* tone. You know, the one that the Westboro Baptist Church uses on whole segments of humanity. Well, yes, it is escapism, made out of the same stuff that condescending people dreamed up their high horses from. I say it lovingly, because I seek it out to complement something that my soul is whispering to me that I need, to bring back color.

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When I was fairly young, I had a rough patch in life, and The Lord of the Rings brought me through it. To the dreary path then, the work of Tolkien added aspects of goodness and valor in life, and that tears were okay. Gandalf’s words are still very meaningful to me:

Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.

Everybody cries in those stories, strong men, grown women, heroes and wizards, everybody but those who are evil. Basically, if you can shed tears, there is hope for you, and tears never diminish acts of valor, and one favorite vala of mine from Tolkien’s work is Nienna, the one who weeps, and also the one who taught Gandalf compassion back in the undying lands.

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It’s okay to cry Sam, give us your best sob fest…

There have been other authors and books, hobbies, activities, films, series etc that have brought me through rough patches. Tove Jansson and her Moomin books were very important and shaped wistful melancholic magic into my everyday reflections. A friend told me that she got through growing up by watching Star Trek and Dr Who, and I can see how that could work.

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Tove Jansson’s Moomin books are for all ages, and deserve a post of their own, anybody who don’t know them is missing out.

I think these things that we seek out are far from random. If we need a gun to shoot things to pieces, our soul will lead us to zombie games, like it did for another friend when she was having a very very hard job, and she shot monsters to unwind. She and I did that a a few times together later in life too, for the same reasons. Another friend painted Warhammer miniature figurines to get him through all kinds of crap, not only was the act soothing, the game itself granted hours, sometimes days of immersed strategy and creativity.

Giving ourselves a break, or giving our soul what it needs for a specific situation is smart, and actually fairly crucial to get on in life. This time around, when I was sitting in various FEMA sponsored hotel rooms, being evacuated, and when we labored with the vast burden of paperwork for a cause that still seems lost, and dealing with other related or unrelated hurtful things that just seemed to come in a cluster on top of everything else, what gave me a break and brought some color to me were two things mainly:

Korean tv series and films

The two D&D games I’m in

The Korean tv series-theme started when a friend recommended “The Great Queen Seondeok” to me, a 62 episode long Korean historical costume drama. The high epic storytelling, the fascinating historical details from the kingdom of Silla in the 600’s blew me away. The main characters go through such vast spectrum of emotions – as I found out characters in most Korean dramas seem to do, when I investigated their film/tv culture further. To cry is quite okay in Korean drama, action or comedy. In fact, a story is kind of incomplete if nobody cries. So, I’ve read up on Korean history and culture, and fallen a little bit in love with it. How can you not like a culture where you can cry even when you are strong?

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Sweet sweet Korean tears…

And D&D..well, I’ve rpg’d most of my life, and in some parts it becomes more powerful and immersing than ever. I did a lot of White Wolf on line gaming one summer in the early 2000’s after a difficult happening, which it sort of helped me solve in my head. And now my D&D characters and their interactions and battles feel like something that’s helping me do other crap that I don’t really want to do. Both characters I play are very different, except for the fact that they have some tragedy in their backgrounds which flaws them, and makes them a little bit crazy and broken. Playing out that can often lead to silly situations and misunderstandings, and that too, is cathartic. Previously in my life I’ve often played comical characters, but my current attraction to the tragicomic is crystal clear and logical to me.

If I slay this dragon, it will be through the combination of pathetic tears, rough jokes and a big bastard sword.

What kind of stuff gets you through a bad patch and makes you able to slay your beasts?

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I shall rise from the ashes…maybe?

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