Throughout my life there has always been one constant: I love telling stories.
I played Dungeons and Dragons starting in my teens and fairly consistently for almost fifteen years. I was almost always the Dungeon Master. My friends would come and live and play in a world I created, interact with people and creatures I gave life to, live the fantastic stories I designed. Most of my greatest memories come from that game.
But this isn’t a post about D&D, its about something deep inside my mind that has been caged up since I was little. I actually don’t know what it is, but sometimes I can feel it moving around, just below the surface like some creature from the deep. I get this overwhelming feeling that encompasses by entire body, my entire being. I both fear this thing and want to embrace it. I just wish I knew what it was.
When I watch something, maybe a documentary, I feel sparks of inspiration flit across my mind like bugs on a pond. That is when the creature stirs. It feels like I have an amazing idea just waiting to come out, waiting for just the right moment to strike. I am filled with exhilaration at the prospect of it, just knowing it is right there waiting for me to take it gets me excited to be alive.
Then it’s gone.
I tend to think that this is exactly how I would feel if someone from the future came to me and told me I would one day write the greatest book/movie/play ever written, that my name is spoken along side Shakespeare and Lucas. I sit, waiting for that day that I get the idea, knowing its there somewhere, just waiting. I would not be any less sure if I was told it would happen than I feel when these ripples cross my mind. I know it is there.
But it never comes.
I feel such loss when the feeling passes, like I just lost the cure for cancer. I’m not entirely sure what this feeling is or what it means, but it happens to me a lot. What am I waiting for? What inspiration is yet missing from the equation?
I’ve been saying that I’ve had a lot of ideas lately of things and projects that I want to do, yet I simply can’t because I need someone to help me. I’ve been thinking of this neediness a lot these last few days and I’ve come up with a few things I may not have realized before now.
First, I realized I simply want to share my experiences with others. What is the point of joy without someone to share it with? I can only imagine what it’s like to be with me when a creative bubble bursts open, flooding my mind with ideas that spill from my lips in an endless stream. My wife says during those time I am the most alive.
Secondly, I need encouragement. Everyone does really, but without it I can’t seem to function. My wife helped me on a thing I was doing in Minecraft. I had been putting it off, but when I told her about it, she really wanted to see me do it. I enlisted her help, she hardly had to do anything really, and got started. We worked together to get it to look just right, and she gave me some encouraging words. Simple things like “That looks really cool” or “That’s really coming along.” I realized that this was the missing ingredient in all my work. I just need someone by my side telling me if I’m doing well, someone to bounce ideas off of (literally in my case, just talking out loud to someone listening helps a lot) and someone to tell me that it is OK to have ideas and want to do something a little outside of my comfort zone.
I think my wife mistook my need for encouragement and support to mean I wanted permission to do something. When I made my stop motion movie “Cupcake Dance” she was there and gave me a hand. I probably would not have finished it without her. She didn’t have to do much, just push a button and give me her thoughts. The first game I created, “Don’t Kill the Customer”, she was there when I worked it all out, tossing in a few ideas of her own, and being involved in the process and encouraging me on. The only two things I was able to accomplish in the last six months of trying were when she was there with me.
You don’t realize how much you need something until you have it once and then its gone. I never thought I needed a smart phone, now I wouldn’t give it up for anything. It’s a little like that. Sadly, I haven’t gotten the kind of support I really needed in so long that I forgot I needed it.
If your loved ones tell you about a project they are thinking about, or a dream they are interested in following, don’t just nod and smile. Get involved. You may need to do as little as say a few nice things or as much as they do. Who knows, you may find you have a new dream, or at least a new hobby. Even if you don’t get that interested in it, what you will have invested in is your future together. Shared experiences are the most wonderful thing in the world. There is no joy to be found in life alone. You might also be encouraging the next Poe or maybe Einstein.