How Stories Last a Lifetime

December 04, 2014

Years back I remember thinking about how poignant the statement “Happiness is only real when shared” really is. You may have seen this line written by the main character of the film “Into the Wild”. It is certainly true that we humans are social beings, yet never do I feel it’s more obvious than when we seek to share our joys. I’ve always found that happy moments, both grand and small, have a much greater impact when they are shared with others. How many times have you seen something “amazing” or “cool” and the first thing you did was check to see if anyone else witnessed it? I believe that response is a sort of instinct closely tied to the concept that things are much more certain, or real, when you can share them. When discussing the topic, a friend once told me to think of it as if a fervent believer in a religion was communicating with fellow members of their faith. They aren’t just telling each other what they believe – they’re sharing what they know.

This concept is something I feel stands out about tabletop gaming as a hobby. I’m sure any gamer can agree that the great memories they have of their role-playing escapades include the people they shared those experiences with. Together, a group of people take the time to share a story, and since they all experienced it, that story becomes very real to them.

Over the years I’ve seen how that has proven true among my friends. Many times we’d go out and somehow the conversation would steer to a campaign or story we played and before you knew it, we were reminiscing. The funny part about it is if you could step back from the conversation, you would think we were talking about people we knew or things we had done. Sure if you heard one of use mention slaying a villain or using a magic power you would know it was not literal truth, but to my friends and I, those stories we regale ourselves with over and over again are as real as any of our other memories.

In a strange way, it’s as if we had built our own second history. There was the time my friend Mael insulted an ancient vampire by putting his feet on the their office desk. Or the time my buddy Panko just HAD to report me to the jedi council for “committing atrocities of GALACTIC proportions”. And lets not forget getting choked up when I watched another friend Valentine say goodbye to his creator, before heading off to certain doom. All of those people mentioned are not real people. They are characters played by my friends in some of the most memorable stories I’ve had the pleasure of being part of. Yet to me those events, along with their humor, passion, and brilliance are very real. They have become shared memories that my friends and I can recall at a moments notice, much like our favorite movies. Those moments became real because we shared them with each other. That is a uniquely satisfying gift to have been given by a seemingly simple form of entertainment. To this day I still have my closest friends entered in the contact list of my phone by the names of their most memorable characters. Some of their characters were played so long, and became so iconic to our playgroup, that the person playing them adopted the characters name as a sort of nickname – even when not actively playing a tabletop game. Some stories we all had partaken in changed the way we looked at life, our own ethics, and even each other! That kind of profound impact is only possible when the medium of entertainment is both personal and shared. I’ll have fond memories of the stories my friends and I shared for the rest of my life.

So my advise is this: Share your dreams so both they and the happiness they bring you, can be real.

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