Good afternoon, friends and neighbors!
Thanks to (yet more) sudden upheavals in my life, I have a new job and a new schedule.
Does it really still count as an “upheaval” when they stack up so quickly? One big wave is notable, but repeated ones just mean they are the tide- to be expected and counted on, albeit at a beach that’s great for surfing.
The new schedule has meant that, for the time being, I won’t be able to play D&D with my friends on Sunday nights anymore. Going in to work at 3am means waking up earlier- and that means a game night that runs till 9pm the night before is out of the question.
Sadly, Han Wu Zhi- my latest character that I’ve had so much fun playing- will be out of action for the time being.
At least, in-game he will be. Han has already left quite an impact.
Stand by for nerdy self-improvement.
Real Wisdom from a Fictional Character
In a previous blog, I talked about Han- in fact, ALL my previous RPG characters- and how their differing personalities let me reflect on aspects of my own. Each character, for the time in my life when I was playing them, reflected some part of me and my philosophy. It let me act them out and analyze them- for good or ill- and draw inspiration.
For those of you not familiar with Pathfinder, it is a “Dungeons and Dragons”-like tabletop role-playing game where players create characters from an insane number of variables and go on the adventures that the GM (the Gamemaster, the person who writes/runs the game and is essentially the Universe) concocts.
Han was my latest. He was a Vanaran Monk of Irori- meaning that he was a monkey-like humanoid that worshiped the game’s version of the Buddha and practiced martial arts.
… Ok, imagine a highly intelligent human-sized monkey that was trained and raised as a Shaolin monk, and you’re close.
In that last post, I mentioned how it wasn’t just Han’s discipline that inspired, but his attitude TOWARD that discipline and how that reflects in his relations for others.
In other characters, “discipline” is a matter of self-control for the sake of containment and preventing harm or waywardness. For Han, it is more a matter of focus and advancement- he is better, stronger, and more likely to reach his aims because of self-discipline, the way a series of lenses restrains and focuses light into a laser beam.
In the real world, I learned self-discipline in culinary school, Scouting, and learning to exercise. Achieving what you want takes time, discipline, and the patience to see it through.
In the game, though, Han learned it through his faith- and that faith is what has bled through into my daily routine.
The Paths of the Righteous
In Pathfinder, there are a pretty impressive number of deities and several pantheons. Like real-world polytheistic religions, the gods can act very human. They fight with each other, can be angry, flattered, jealous, or pleased.
If your character claims to follow a certain god (especially if they are conferred special abilities by their faith, such as clerics or paladins,) then they might carry or wear specific things meant to emulate or endear them to that deity and spend one hour each day in worship.
Han’s god, Irori, is the god of Knowledge, Perfection, and History. Inspired by the real-world Gautama Buddha and Bodhidharma (the Chinese patriarch of Chan Buddhism and founder of Shaolin,) Irori is the only deity to have been born a mortal man and achieved godhood through self-perfection- mental, physical, and spiritual.
In-game, daily worship of Irori has three parts:
Practicing martial arts for at least 20 minutes.
Reading a book you have not previously read, at least 20 minutes.
Meditation, ideally while braiding one’s hair, at least 20 minutes.
If you think that sounds like a good addition to ANY morning routine… so do I, and we’re not alone.
Walking the Path
The benefits of daily meditation and mindfulness practice are EXTREMELY well-documented. Research has found that even just a few minutes of meditation daily can help control anxiety and depression. Given my chosen vocation and recent experiences, learning to sit quietly and be comfortable with my thoughts is a HUGE bonus.
One can try following instructions from a book or going it solo- but there is a technique to meditating that is best found through guidance. Multiple apps and services exist that offer guided audio meditation to help. Headspace is the one I’ve been using lately, but there are plenty of others.
As for reading… frankly, I love it, and it beats the hell out of scrolling through social media forever. I think from now on, at the bottom of each blog, I’ll put down a book I’m currently reading. You can also find me on Goodreads too, if you want to scan my shelves.
And the martial arts?
Well, it’s been a while since I practiced Kenpo- but the mental health benefits I already get from regular exercise are incredible.
Han Wu Zhi may never get to the bottom of the Runelord’s tower- but his discipline and faith inspired even the guy that created him.
What about you?
Have you ever been inspired to make changes in your life because of a work of fiction? Do you have the Litany Against Fear tacked up somewhere? Let me know in the comments!
Current Books: Born For This by Chris Guillebeau, and The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence.