When I started this whole “Being Thankful” series, I had no idea how difficult it would be for me to blog every day. Speaking of which, I’m about three entries in the hole right now so I better get stepping…
Being Thankful: Music
I’ve always appreciated music. I enjoy country, rock, R&B, “oldies”, classical, big band swing, ska, rockabilly, jazz–you name it. Even the dreaded “r” word (Rap) has some examples that I’ve gotten a kick out of. I’ve mellowed so much in my old age that I even don’t mind “sampling” as much as I used to. Yep, I’m a hep old cat, alright.
I’ve also enjoyed playing music. As a kid I was always banging away on things, kicking out the back beats on seats, cans, my siblings, etc. I played the “flutophone” in elementary school. I got to learn a little bit of guitar and piano from grandmother–very little–but I thought it was pretty cool. In junior high I played around on my Casio keyboard, having a grand old time with my delusions of becoming a musician.
I did play trumpet in high school (and later in college) band. I wasn’t half bad and really enjoyed it–especially Jazz Band. But, I got older and transferred to bigger, more musically competitive college, and decided to hone in on my major (English) and finish up my schooling sooner rather than later.
But I still love music. All music. It is truly the universal language of emotion, encapsulated in sound. I miss performing but still love listening. And I’m thankful that it has been such an integral part of my life.
Being Thankful: RPGs
Role playing games have been a big part of my life for a long time. I’ve spoken about my experiences fairly recently on my “geek out” post. I think I expressed all the things that my hobby has done for me pretty well there, so at the risk of cranking my Douchemeter™ up a couple of notches, I’m not going to reinvent the wheel and just go ahead and quote myself:
I really started playing RPGs when I was in high school. I had dabbled a bit with the original red box Dungeons and Dragons, running scenarios for my siblings, but really got hooked when I moved to a new town and played regularly with my new friends. Our game of choice was Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Edition represent, yo!). Then we moved on to Second Edition and eventually even some home-brewed games. I started off as a player but then started running games myself. Not only AD&D but our home-brews and later Vampire: The Masquerade, Star Frontiers, and little DC Heroes action. Now I’m a running a Serenity RPG campaign (rather intermittently with my group’s schedules and such).
Table-top RPGs have been a huge part of my social life since I was teenager. I’ve played with the same group of friends now for over ten years (a couple of these guys for closer to twenty). By running various games, I’ve learned how to be a better manager of both time and people. I’ve learned to be a fair judge and make better decisions. I’ve learned to think critically. I’ve also learned when to remember that this is all a game and the point is to have fun: stop sweating the petty stuff (or petting the sweaty stuff).
I was also roleplaying during the big “D&D is going to cause to you worship Satan and commit suicide” scare during the 80s through early 90s. During my junior year in high school, I wrote a research paper about how ridiculous this phenomenon was. I had been playing D&D pretty regularly for a few years by then and had zero suicidal or satanic tendencies…well, at least not any more than your average 14-16 year old. I was also given, with the best of intentions, a copy of Pat Pulling’s “The Devil’s Web“. So I learned, through my exposure to roleplaying games, how to think for myself. To look beyond what was so-called “normal” and to trust my own instincts and my rationality.
Being Thankful: Modern Medical Science
I may have mentioned it before but I have been diagnosed with a malady known as Marfan Syndrome. I was diagnosed back when I was about 18 or 19. My father died of a massive heart attack due to complications with Marfan’s. When I was 20 I underwent open heart surgery to treat my leaking aorta (aka aortic root replacement).
So now I have a hunk of plastic in my heart and a pacemaker. I’m also on various medications to maintain myself in perfect health. Plus I get loving-but-firm pat-downs at every airport in the country.
But I’m thankful. Because if it was not for the various miracles of modern science (and those practitioners of it), I probably wouldn’t be here today. From what I understand from my various doctors, if I hadn’t had these things done I would have probably met the same fate as my dad–possibly dying even younger than he did.
So “thank you”, science. Thanks for saving my scrawny butt.