I am fairly certain that we are not totally in control of ourselves and what happens to us. I think we are characters in a giant game of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D), and the person playing me (my player) is actually a 15 year old boy who has no idea what adult women are really supposed to be like.
I have thought this for a while now, but here recently it has really been on my mind a lot.
I feel that we have players for several reasons. How many times have we gotten up from what we were doing and before even standing all the way up, we forget what we were going to do? It’s because our players changed their minds about what they were about to have us do. “Okay, I want her to go brush her teeth.” “Are you sure?” “Yeah, yeah I’m sure.” “Okay, she is getting up.” “NO! Wait, I want her to go pay the electric bill instead!” “The electric bill? Really?” “Um, no. Hang on. I need to check one of her stats.” So we stand there confused for a moment, then either sit back down or wander off to do whatever thing our player finally decided they wanted us to do.
Have you ever done something, but not been able to explain why you did it? It’s not that you can’t find the right words to describe it, it’s that you just don’t know why? It’s because your teenage player decided it would be totally hilarious for you to holler out “I smell bacon” when the officer arrives at your car window to ask for your license.
I will be headed down the hall to do something of vital importance, and will forget what I was going to do. A few nights ago, I went into the kitchen to rinse something sticky off my hands and get a drink, but after rinsing my hands, I accidentally flicked water on the cats face and she was mad about it, so I decided to give her a treat to apologize to her. While getting her treat, one of our other cats came tearing in to get a treat too, so I had to dole out treats for him as well. While giving the other cat his treats, my cat knocked one of her treats off the desk so I grabbed her treats and her and carried them to the other room, then I came back to my computer and sat down. I had been working on my last blog post for several minutes before I realized I had never gotten the drink I went to the kitchen for in the first place.
I think that we have at least some degree of free will. Sometimes we manage to do something that our players don’t expect and it takes them by surprise, making them unable to control us again for a short time. They are sitting there, mouths hanging open, unable to believe that we actually just did that. At those times, chaos seems to reign in our lives more than at other times.
Sometimes, though, I think our players are actually trying to do something specific and they fumble their die roll and get a one instead of the 20 they were hoping for. Rolling a one is a critical fumble. Those are the times that we are trying to walk down the basement stairs and manage to trip and fall. Or we are walking across the carpet in the library and we trip over the line where the carpet changes from plain to patterned. Or we are stirring noodles in a pot full of boiling water and manage to accidentally splash enough boiling water onto us that we wind up with a second degree burn on our stomachs. Yes, I did that last week. Yes, I was wearing a shirt.
A favorite author of mine, Terry Pratchett, describes in his book “Interesting Times” how Fate and Lady Luck play a game with the lives of the humans that live in his world. The board they use for their game is the world. At one time, I almost thought that Mr. Pratchett could be on to something with that. It often seemed that Fate and Luck (and a god or two sometimes) were playing games with my life. Then I realized that it made more sense to me that we might all be the characters in a giant game of AD&D.
Or, perhaps we are the characters in a role playing game, but our players are not teenage boys, our players are actually the gods themselves, and the game masters are Fate and Luck, and they are just making up the story as the gods bumble along, trying to figure out what it really means to be human.
What do you think? Are we pawns in a game being played by the gods, are we characters in a role playing game, being controlled by a bunch of hormonal teenage boys, or by a bunch of gods who have no idea what it’s really like to be human?