Paring Back Down to People

You know, throughout a lot of my life, I’ve tried finding happiness through getting more stuff, reading more advice, trying to find the right way to do something instead of just doing it and learning from there.

But the last little while has seen some changes, quite a few of which I’ve been able to direct myself, and I’m discovering that real happiness is all about being around people – and not lots of them.

Here’s the general life update:

Within the last couple of months I received my first freelance pay cheque in a year or so. I’m ghost writing for a local company, a small outfit owned and run by two people. Work’s a little spotty at the moment but that’s not necessarily a bad thing; I’m in a new arena of writing, and stating small is helping me get good results for my client.

I also just finished my third week of a new day job! An old friend headhunted me to be the customer service manager at his communication technology firm in town; I finished up at my previous day job mid-November and started at the new place immediately afterward. That’s a heap of new challenges, too: Going from media to communication services means more technical customer support, and the change meant going from being part of an office of around seventy to the sixth person in the new place!

Beyond that, though, I’ve been slowly trimming things down. When you start paying attention to your breathing, and then what’s really going on in your own head, you start noticing how you can actually do well without the things you thought you needed and / or would make you happy. I’ve given away RPG stuff in local groups, I’ve unsubscribed from a heap of e-mail lists, I’ve trimmed my social media and RSS feeds down.

Though I was digging the free-to-play massively-multiplayer online roleplaying game Warframe for a while, I realised that the reason I was in there – to do fun things with cool people – wasn’t happening. The fun things got dull and repetitive quickly, and the cool people never really materialised. Even when I tried to get sessions with people I already knew otuside the game, whether they didn’t have the capacity to do voice chat while playing the game – turning a social event into single-player with the odd text message – or networking issues prevented us from actually connecting.

I even turned an invitation to re-join a private online membership group at a discounted rate because I realised that I don’t do well in large groups, especially text-based ones; I always feel there’s too much to keep up with.

(You know, there’s something I just realised; I met Vickie in a big forum, but it wasn’t until we actually met up in person, just the two of us, that I fell in love with her.)

The overall idea is that, as I wasn’t playing games, reading the subscriptions and feeds or participating in the forums anyway, why keep them around? They become sources of guilt – x e-mails, y tweets and z posts that I haven’t got around to reading and probably never will.

What’s replacing them, I’m finding, is an interest in actually engaging with other people. I still disappear upstairs while Vickie is watching the telly to blow stuff up hide under a desk from time to time, but I’m more likely (try not to laugh, darling) to actually spend more time with Vickie of an evening, and that includes doing housework and even (gasp!) cooking.

Not exactly practicing whjat I preach, but I'm hopeful it'll give me somethign to do with my stepson's kids. And my stepson. And maybe even Vickie...
Not exactly practicing what I preach, but I’m hopeful it’ll be something to do with my stepson’s kids. And my stepson. And maybe even Vickie…

Where I’d spend money on new games (whether tabletop or otherwise) and anticipate good times I rarely wound up having, I’m now having great times playing other folks’ board games with them on Thursday nights at the Wicked Goblin.

And you know, that “small group” factor comes in there, too: Though there might be around twenty people from Cairns Boardgamers at the Goblin on a Thursday night, a given game will involve only four to seven, including me.

One final note: I find that I’d rather write about the things I’m doing with other people than the things that are more about myself. I think that’s where the “Society” part of The Society for Doing Things comes in – you can do things on your own, but there’s not as much result or reward as the things you not just share with, but do with others.

What’s next? I don’t know, and I think I’ve wasted enough time speculating. Plans are great, but they often depend on outside circumstances and other people with pressures of their own. And besides, I’ve lived a good chunk of my life anticipating fun in the future.

So I’m just going to do stuff with folks, see what I enjoy and whom I enjoy it with!