Yesterday evening, I visited an old friend who was recovering from a major stroke, and I honestly would not trade that night for anything. I was lost in thought on the way back home about one thing more than anything else:

Memories are what make us who we are. Literally. Maybe philosophically people may disagree but I think even then they do. When we forget our past, we really can move on. When we remember the past, we can choose to accept the circumstances that are out of our control and live in a new positive light.

He has changed remarkably since the last time I met him. He had the widest grin when we first came in his room to visit, and it made me point that out and smile even bigger. We talked a lot, from jokes to deep, tearful conversations. He called it his second chance at life, and when he spoke about his son, his voice cracked and I knew he was hurting inside all along. He has such a gentle, loving heart for kids, not just his own. But of everyone he does remember, his kid went through a lot, and it even hurt me to know that his son knew and saw everything even when his dad thought he was asleep. And yet, he is still the wonderful and jokester kid that he is. In that moment, despite not revealing any tears, I shared that moment of sorrow with him. The two have been through a lot, and the world isn’t void of problems.

The people he remembers the most were the people he loved the most. I think in a morbid sense, yes, that is fascinating to me. He isn’t the type to be easily offended though and I love his personality for matching mine in that aspect. He couldn’t remember my other friend’s ex when we mentioned them, and even when put to the test I think he even had a hard time remembering my and my sister’s names haha. But I don’t blame him. He remembered my friend because the two have known each other for so long, through thick and thin. He has always been that kinda guy – a ride or die friend. I will always cherish and respect him for his values and outlook, even through his mistakes. I accept those too because he chooses to make himself a better person now. Just as much I have done for myself.

I’ve always been the dark jokester and today we told him the math book joke I first thought of when I heard that he suffered a stroke. We all had a good laugh about it. But one thing I didn’t get the chance to say is that he almost didn’t seem like he had a stroke. He’s doing quite well in recovery, albeit I did see him trip up in memory more than a few times. It’s just that he’s so fixated on bettering himself now. He has such a positive outlook he isn’t even worried about the eviction’s notice and property loss once he makes it out of rehab/therapy. At that moment, I admired him for his resilient spirit and positive determination to make things right. He wants to live to see his son grow up, and in his breaking tears I saw the dad I wished I could have. I told him he was a better dad than he thinks he is.

He didn’t need to have the best memory to be the best person he could be. All it took was for him to reflect on his past to change himself. Memories on a grander scale can break us as a person – it’s that power, that burden of knowledge that weigh heavily on us. In his first two weeks of awakening he said he was like a vegetable. He only is just remembering things now and is doing so much better physically, mentally, arguably spiritually. Without these memories, whether good or bad ones, I think we would all be less than sentient ourselves. That’s why we need to cherish the moments, and live in the “now,” use the past as a lesson than dwell on it, and look forward to new hopes and futures.

And maybe that’s part of the attractive quality of a diary, or at least writing is to me. Even when I forget in the daily train of thoughts, coming back to read my past experiences that my past self wrote in the time and moment that it occurred is an unmistakable feeling of reminisce, nostalgia, sorrow, whatever it was about. And even just for a moment I can relive it, remembering why it was so important to me. I use that as a sort of determination and inspiration for myself.

For someone as forgetful as me, memories mean the world to me. If I didn’t remember who I was, like in those first weeks of awakening for my friend, wouldn’t that mean you’re a changed person, a blank slate? If you don’t remember the people around you – I could see now just how painful that could be for others who love you. Are you then a nobody without your memories? I think, therefore I am, the saying goes. The very sustenance of being is as ephemeral as the existence of thought.

My Purpose

The growth of myself as a person and player is remarkably significant in all the years, and all the people, who have changed me to be who I am today.

Specifically in DDO, I think the reasons that I keep playing evolve. I was a lot more clammed up first starting out, but because I had no one, I played for myself. I ran alone, but I was always curious about other people. Social settings have always made me feel anxious, and this was something I never realized before; but I used to worry over every little thing. Out of game, I’d make sure I wouldn’t breathe too loudly or “take up their air space”, and in game, I’d make sure I’d have the proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I settled for nothing short of perfect, so I was also very afraid to admit mistakes or uncertainties. In order to avoid these, part of this was the reason why I dove right into the game and took it upon myself to learn the game and aim for the upper ranks of it. To play in endgame, at the time, back in 2011-12, and to immerse myself with as many puggers as I could, as they were my links to getting to know the inner circles.

It is kind of strange how now, the people who joined the game then, are the people who I consider my fellow “peers”, as if this game is a profession. I built as big of a network as I could, and kept most of my thoughts and opinions to myself. I can’t say exactly what drew people to me, and me to them, other than running pugs often. And now that the network is more established, I’ve found less and less incentive to pug. Especially for the higher end content where we can’t really afford to carry people.

I think this is where I miss the older days of the game, where Reaper has pushed for people into these tight knit circles again. Elitist attitudes, even among some of my best friends, is rampant. And I have fallen towards that in pursuit of the Reaper experience myself. But I think now, I have a changed perspective of it. Having been reminded of the player that I used to be – full of positivity and acceptance – kind of made me stop in my tracks to think about some of the thoughts I’ve had about others, and to move forward in a new light more reminiscent of my former own.

I used to play because I truly loved this game then. I had mixed feelings in the early days starting out, but I think it’s fair, now, to say that all along, I had been playing this game for both social and mechanical reasons. I played at first because I wanted to earn the respect of others, but I also played because I had never played a game like DDO ever before. As someone who never knew the concept of role play officially and yet growing up with it all along, DDO was the game that fit in perfectly. I grew excited at the idea of an angelic character, and somewhere along the way, I projected myself onto that. Somewhere along the path further down, I wanted to believe I could paint something on this blank slate. Almost 8 years later, I found a place where I felt like I could belong, away from the real world and all of its sickening burdens.

But even the “sweet DDO life of Sera” has its own demons. I’m sure I could go on and on about them, but for the first time I think in all these years, I was really beginning to turn away from DDO. I wonder now if it was still even by choice, since it was more out of fear and anxiety. And that hiccup was all it took for me to snap out of it. I questioned myself, why do you still play if it’s for others? Because of others? I suppose I can never rid of this emotionally apt heart of mine that is always drawn towards the troublesome crux of social harmony. And that if that is not achieved in my circles, it takes a rather huge toll on me.

So slowly, I began to immerse myself with new reasons – not for friends, not even for close friends, but for myself again. To go back to square one. With a bit of balance, I want to maintain what little social life (the real one) I have, and play DDO for the excitement of builds. To nerd out again hardcore like I used to, researching, creating spreadsheets and documents, working on myself as a player and on my characters. I spent this entire year helping others, that I could barely fit in my only goal of attaining Reaper wings.

And thus, I’ve thought about embarking on another TR trip, with Racials at least. I’m not sure if I’m 100% settled on this yet, but it has been a thought. The previous TR project was so grindy and I hated that I couldn’t raid with my friends. But over the course of the past month, taking a moment to stop and actually put forth the effort of running with the other guildies has made me realize that they’re actually fun to be around. The ones I didn’t put in nearly half as much effort and barely got to know. I’ve always wanted to lead by example, so this has been an eye opening experience for me. What touched me was that they said, at least for a particular group of guildies I ran with last night, was that it was because of the fact that I had been reaching out to them and being involved in chatting with them, grouping with them, showing and displaying an effort that they in turn responded back. This really restored my reason and purpose to lead. The thing is, it wasn’t even that much effort on my part – I’ve always ingrained it in me to always greet guildies and be as active as I possibly could for others. And I’m forever thankful for people who do respond back. Sometimes I wonder, is it really as simple as that? What is it about me that I just click better with people? There is a plethora of reasons I’m sure, but hearing about this gave me the warm fuzzies.

In any case, back to the Racials, I think it might be an easier TR project given all the content these days, and the fact that I could just monopolize one set of gear as an easy button Sorcerer or something. I still have to think about it, if I did it might be with a group of guildies, or on my own terms and picking up friends along the way. I’ve always been bad about going in groups because I personally don’t think matching up time zones and schedules is feasible without a lot of effort, and the last thing I want to do is put in more effort for such a hefty project. But I’m reminded of Vie, who is much more casual in nature about running a TR, and I certainly miss her as well as her refreshing attitude. I think my wish, of wanting to run with pugs again, is finally coming true in a way that I would have never expected it before!

It’s nice to be able to put up an LFM again, on that note. I miss the anonymity of it sometimes, being in a group where no one actually knows me. It is also nice when someone somehow does know me and speaks kind words. I’m always so grateful for them, even though I might not know them. It is amazing how some people have elephant memories, but the same could be said of me when it comes to people. First impressions are truly lasting.

That said, I’ve been hitting it off with a lot of new (by new, I mean hidden gems) people around the server. It is astonishing to me at how secluded I was, and am, even now, with these channels and Discord server. And it kind of hurts me to know that people I never got to meet because they quit without ever finding a community. I love meeting new people, mostly online but even in real life as long as I have a chance to observe them and ask many questions about them. Can you imagine how far your network could grow if we were all just in one big server?

I now play for this and many other reasons. I want to continue to meet new people, create new memories, learn more about the game, its players, and myself. I always know that I can improve myself to be better because there will always be someone better than me. In both attitude and skill, I think that is what defines a good player. So I want to strive for that, and revive the old spirit I had for DDO – one that a lot of my older friends whom I’ve pretty much grown up with, would remember.

2019 – A Reunion with God

So, I kinda did a last minute fast (a fast minute?) for Passion Week – I honestly forgot.

But in the two-ish days I had been fasting, I think it was a much needed escapade from technology, and also a tormenting one.

It was full of aching and hurting from being sick, but there was also an anxious ache from in game stuff. It appears that they will be resolved at about the same time.

But this is about God, or it should be at least. I genuinely, and honestly, devoted some time to God, and to learning more about Him. I opened up The Bible Project, in hopes that wisdom may inspire me. I may have learned some answers about how to move forward from this anxiety, which is good.

(On a side note, I absolutely love TBP’s explainer videos – the animations, art, and motion graphics are stunning and that is just the epitome of everything I want to do!)

When I was a child, I earnestly asked for wisdom. That was my first request that was ever fulfilled and that was when I knew God. When I grew older, I stopped. I’m still stagnant, if not retreating backwards in time – I’m not maturing spiritually.

So every time I get sick, I have this habit: I pray to God. I suppose that sounds natural to most, but it’s one of the worst habits. Imagine a friend who only talks to you when they need something from you. I do have friends like these even now, and while I can tolerate them, I think when they are the most obvious about it is when I feel the most hurt and annoyed. I am that, to God.

What’s funny is that the following day my pulsating headache disappeared. My cold was finally starting to take a turn for recovery. This happens every time I do get sick. I turn to God, and it’s like voila! You’re healed. Sometimes I’m cautiously wary, and brush it off because I knew I could get over the sickness. But in my moment of weakness, I still prayed to God. What does that say about me?

I dreamt vividly last night, a rather odd dream. I dreamt of my dad first, and then of Ilse. A disturbing dream in the first, and then rather mundane for the second. I didn’t know what to think of it. These are the two people I would never be able to converse and interact just as simply as that. But it is as simple as that. It can be. But I don’t believe it to be.

When I awoke, my eyes didn’t feel like they were going to pop from the headache. It was gone, relieved, and I let out a scratchy gasp. I continued to sleep and sleep. In such a chaotic world, I never seem to have time for God. Not even in my dreams.

So I sometimes wonder if He is the one who puts them there. The ones that recur every so often, or every other year. The ones that I know what will happen, and still fear. I love this connection with writing down my dreams, but sometimes they hold a scary power. Not of premonition, but of interlinking realms. Have I been reading and watching too much weird fiction? Perhaps.

But I love it too. My connection to God can be seen as vividly as fiction fans to their magical realism novels. Neither realms bow to the order and law of human logic and reason, or understanding for that matter. Almost like its random. I don’t mean, Pokémon Emerald pseudo-random seed generator “random”, but random in its purest essence. In other words, God’s will and design. Something we cannot understand or ever comprehend.

Yup, this is definitely late night writing again. But I wanted to write something about the past two days. I think there is going to be a big change. I don’t quite know what this unrest is, but I regret purchasing Sharn almost. I regret that my friends have went and got me the Season Pass. I always have been telling myself and wondering, will it ever end?

I watched an odd array of movies. Joseph: King of Dreams was a film I watched as a kid, I enjoyed rewatching that. I forgot DreamWorks produced that and Prince of Egypt. Somehow I thought watching Christian films would be a good idea afterwards, but halfway into God is For Real, and I curled back in distaste at some of the lines. Even for a Christian as myself. Blegh.

Themes of forgiveness, and the choice by free will have been circling my mind all day. What does God want me to do? Resounds like the cheesy WWJD bracelets, but I think about Him seriously. I want to be humble, kind, loving, and come from that place of love. It’s not easy.

I’m sick in the heart, mind, body, and soul. I clearly need Him, but I don’t know how to let go. So help me God, in my next transition.

Artistic Influences & Inspirations of the Day

On a separate side note, I came across a couple cool new Christian songs. Yes, they are not exactly worship hymns, but Passion Week is when I discover underground songs like these particularly under the electronic genre. Love it!

Who Says? – Joshua Micah

More than Air – Local Sound

And finally, one that I’ve been listening to lately. The Veldt, by deadmau5 ft. Chris James. I only recently stumbled across this one, and came to learn of its inspirational reference and Chris James’ instant hit. Reminded me of Chris Tomlin’s rise, through a cover of David Crowder’s song. This one calms me, and is probably my favorite of deadmau5, given that his most popular one Strobe wasn’t one that I really connected with, if I had to be blunt.

The films that I’ve watched today gave birth to so many artistic inspirations. The Bible Project’s Ecclesiastes’ caricature, Joseph: King of Dreams’ artistic renditions, and even the cinematography of Pan’s Labyrinth. I learned, loved, and resonated lots today!