The problem with understanding things is that you understand them.
So when you interact with the world, you do so with that understanding. And what may seem like an ‘of course’ to you may seem like an insurmountable obstacle to others. What seems simple to you, seems like magic to them.
Technology is the easiest example. What I view as common and everyday is something many would find to be frustrating and opaque.
And when that understanding moves beyond the realm of physical things…you’re distance from others grows as well. Because the world you are experiencing is not the world they are experiencing.
I often say to myself, “Sonder.”
Sonder is the understanding that each being you experience is living an entire reality that you cannot understand.
And it applies to yourself as well. The life you are experiencing, cannot be fully understood by anyone else.
We can be truthful. We can be open and honest. We can be emotionally intelligent and caring. But our understanding of our reality means that we will leave things out of that discourse. Because, to us, it is a given. Something we just accept and know.
This is why we experience pushback when we explain things to people. Because our inherent understanding is different from their inherent understanding. And what they perceive as real is not what you perceive as real. Not fully. Not completely. Even when you approach parity.
All we can do is understand where they are coming from, as much as possible, and meet them where they are.
And beyond that, be humble. Because what you understand needs to evolve. You cannot rest on your own understanding. Stagnation is death.
I once said, “I have no regrets.”
And meant it
But that all came crashing down one fall night
Then regret became everything
So much so that it eclipsed everything
Until I was nothing
Just an open wound
Looking for anyway to feel
And there again I felt no regrets because I was so deep in regret
That nothing felt different
So with no differentiation
Nothing was the name of the game
Eventually, I began to feel again
And I would say that I regretted the things I hadn’t done
The actions I failed to take
So I resolved to risk
To hold forth my heart entire and burn rather than smolder
And I hurt some people
Because I was still hurting
I just kept the thorns turned inward than out
So I began to regret those actions
So actions taken, actions failed to take
And neither safe
So I became mindful
Tried to be honest
With myself most of all
And I found myself with even more regret
Not of action or inaction
But instead for being unable to act
Constrained by my word given
Once to let my partner dictate pace
And so unable to make moves for both of our benefit
Once to say that two masters cannot be served
And instantly regretting it
It’s what I thought but if life has taught me anything it’s that new information brings new thought
I wish I had that confidence, that ignorance, of youth
That I could enforce my will and bedamned to all other consequences
If I did, for brief moments, I would be happy
But instead, I wage this long game
Hoping that my choices now will lead us well
And not to regret
Sift through wreckage
Found in huddled
Lost but found but wanting
Soaring in flight
Crashed down to ungentle earth
But at least the fire is out
Or truth its moved inward
Pouring out from fingertips
Warm yourself but
Always pull away
Afraid of burning up
Kindle instead and ignite
In seconds between flight
And the fading
The sound of breaking glass
Cold shivers its way across the ridges of my spine
soft breath caresses and holds
words spoken at a volume at once too quiet and a clamor of joyous ringing
this long drawn out moment of perfection free of any thought but desire
tension falling away with a touch
And a the palpable feeling
Its real. I am keenly aware that this sounds insane. However, I have seen ghosts. Real spirits. I have dreamwalked and met people who I would later meet in the waking world. I have seen the branching future, and knowing a sequence would lead to ruin, a sequence I could not anticipate that existed outside normal patterns, averted that disaster by making a different choice. And as a test case making the same choice to disastrous results. I have spoken with elemental forces. Made friends with some, allies of others. The enemies I had already.
When I work a spell, I can feel the world shifting and when it is complete, feel it take hold. I can feel the world change. I know this sounds delusional, like madness. The problem is duplication, with science you input something and can test for a reaction. Magic is not science. Magic is art. In the same way that you can play notes in the same sequence that Charlie Parker did but lack the same quality of Charlie.
Magic is a system, just like musical notes are a system but no two mages will work in the exact same way as no two musicians will sound exactly the same. You can get close, same teachers, same styles, same outlook. But there is always differences and those differences make it hard to prove. I don’t feel the need to justify myself, but I am an adult and know to whom and when I can speak without being locked up by the largest secular religion, psychology. I say all of this to make this point, Magic is real. Do not dismiss what you cannot explain. But don’t slavishly follow it either. This world contains more than you can know.
This is to all the keynote and storytime speakers at PAX Prime and I imagine the other PAX as well, but I have no direct experience.
Please, stop talking about your new game or game design, or the particulars of the industry. I know you are given free reign to talk about whatever, but think of the experience you are giving those around you. PAX isn’t a tech conference or a board meeting, it isn’t PAX dev. The majority of Pax goers are enthusiasts not industry insiders. You are setting the tone for the experience.
If I may offer some advice, talk about who you are and why you are. Talk about the culture of the industry, the stories of the inside. Talk about your past, your dreams, your future and where you see games going as culture. Talk about community.
This is why we come to PAX. It is not only to see the new hotness. It is for that sense of community, of being part of something larger. Of knowing we’re not alone. I talk about PAX to many people and for all of the perceived size of it from inside, most people I talk to have no idea what it is.
Most often people say “oh, it’s like comicon”. And I reply “kinda”. But most Comicon, SDCC and others, are about the thing. The new hotness, the new comic, the new new. PAX is about the community that grew up around the thing. It is about the shared experience. The games provide a template, a experience. But it’s the community and friendships that rise from these experiences that matter. That last.
So, they want you to speak as keynote. That is great. We like you already. Share the experience with us, don’t sell us something.