Saturday, March 2, 2019

On Being Old

I do wish people would stop calling me "Old School."

It's an appellation that I suppose I'm stuck with, because I started playing with AD&D and many of the features of my game are yet structured on that edition's framework.  From my perspective, however, it is like buying an old house and then reshaping it, adding a floor, adding a bay window, restructuring the back, covering it in marble and painting the front door red.  Under the surface, yes, it's an old house.  It has the same foundation, however resurfaced it is.  The basic frame is the same, though I've shored it up in place.

Still, I think it is silly for someone to drive past and say, "What a nice old house."

This is not to say I mind being old.  I can testify that becoming old is the best thing that ever happened to me.  Granted, I'm not truly old.  I feel rotten and stiff in the morning when I get up without having to take a drink the night before.  I can't run more than fifty meters without being winded.  I can't stand on my feet forty hours a week.  But I'm not decrepit.

As I undertake a writing project, or redesigning something like the naval combat system I'm building (and which is coming along very well), I am astounded at my knack for pulling things together, finding the necessary words and seeing the bigger picture.  I'm not speaking of the overconfidence of the previous post.  I see my mistakes, I see my shortcomings.  The key here is that when I see them, I know what to do with them.  And that, O Reader, is age.

Someone writes something about Michaelangelo's David.  Someone painstakingly puts together 17 videos of Indonesian history.  I read a wikipedia page about luffing.  I watch an old film I've never heard of before and recognize most of the actors in it, plus a lot of the crew.  I laugh at some British television from this season.  I write a thousand words of fiction.  I do some recording.  I add to the wiki.  And I reconnect with a culture I used to be part of and remember both the sweet and the bad of it at the same time.  All in the last 24 hours.  That is age.

The process of living, at least for me, ceases to be about doing just one thing, as Curly's philosophy went.  There are too many things I know about, too many things I enjoy, too many parts of culture that I can plug into and enjoy for me to do just one thing.  There's always something I heard twenty years ago that I can feed into today's conversation as an example of something that still applies or as something that definitely doesn't.  My thoughts are full of strategies, thinking outside the box, recreating something that's fair but could be better, being one step ahead of the old me ... and believe me, there are a LOT of old me's to be ahead of.

This is me every day.

Old Me screwed me over pretty hard, I'd say.  He enjoyed himself a bit too much, he showed fear a lot too much and there were a lot of times he could have been making money for me when he didn't.  But old me worked on his writing and his reading, he worked on his education, he built a very strong marriage and he's given me a lot of mental tools to work with.  So it's hard to be mad with him.

But Old Me is not me.  He was a pretty young punk for most of it (and, from the video, when I say "punk" I really mean punk) and his take on the old game is not my take on the old game.  Old Me was Old School ... but I'm not.

It's the same foundation, but for me the D&D I play isn't the same game.

1 comment:

Ozymandias said...

Every time I hear people talking about the OSR, I cringe just a little. I think that's because, in part, the definitions and explanations for, "What is the OSR?" almost universally hinge around, "Simplicity for simplicity's sake." It's something I can respect IFF I knew that the speaker had done the work necessary to justify going with the simple approach.

This is rarely the case.