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Days of miracle and wonder 15 October 2011

Posted by Dr Moose in Life, Ponderings, Role-Playing Games, Technology.

(written Friday 14th)

As I did something unusual today I had a rare opportunity. The unusual thing was to walk, not the short distance to the corner shop, nor even the mile or so to the railway station, but a more real distance, 2.5 miles or so back from University on a glorious, and gloriously incongruous “summer” evening. In a rush of enthusiasm this morning I’d decided to walk there, a strenuous hike, mostly uphill, both to prove I could do it and to time it, which meant, of course, that I had to come home again, mostly downhill. I can’t explain to my satisfaction why it didn’t seem to make much difference to the timings, even though I strode forth purposefully in the morn and came back at a relaxed pace in the afternoon, but such are the mysteries of life.

The rare opportunity was that of the space for random, moderately uncluttered thought, largely free of distraction and the need to concentrate on anything other than the occasional crossing of a road. It had been a good day at Uni, and despite not wanting to go out this evening, even that was pleasant – so a good day in all.

As you can tell this is becoming something of a random-walk blog post, but that’s not a problem.

Many thoughts have drifted through my mind recently, and very little have been translated into action or reality. However, Paul Simon’s song title, “These are the days of miracle and wonder” serves as a good signpost.

I have played Traveller for the first time in years, reading and using the Mongoose edition of the rules and being reminded of what has changed since the original 1977 version. I’ve been reminded about how in those early teenage years the one piece of equipment I wanted my characters to have was the marvelous “Hand Computer” (and remember these were the days of the Sinclair ZX81, or of you had the money the Apple IIe. I’d never seen an IBM PC or heard of Microsoft!) And yet now, many of us carry (and use) “Hand Computers” of unimaginable power – often in the form of a mobile phone.

These are the days of miracle and wonder – except they have become commonplace. Try imagining how the iPad or Tablet will be remembered by today’s young teenagers in 30 years time…

One of the things I have noticed, pondered and worried about of late has been about things I do, and don’t do. It has been an awfully long time since I read a new book, for example; Role-Playing Games and similar materials excepted. More than ever I get a few pages in and stall, or worse, prefer to pick up something I’ve read umpteen times before. I can have strange justifications for this like “I don’t want to end up reading too late into the night” or “I don’t want to risk dropping it in the bath”. I’m unsure, though, whether these are actually true reasons or merely excuses. (And don’t get me started on the subject of watching TV, or catching up on all those Battlestar Galactica DVDs…)

However, there are signs of hope. Despite the busiest months of evening visits I can remember for a long time, I do feel that I am making more meaningful and useful student contacts than for a long time, maybe more than ever before. Now that the GLW is driving, and that I have POG  I have the chance to get to Christian Union on Tuesday nights – and other things too. On a whim I signed up for the Northampton Unversity Media Society (and no, I don’t think I can technically be a member, but since  when have students worried about things like that?)  It means that I will now be getting a regular opinion column in the newspaper – simply because I offered and took the plunge. More than that I managed to get to the NU Media Soc meeting last week and see the candidates for editorial posts for NU Radio and NU News make their pitches for election. At the risk of sounding like a crusty  old fogey, I have needed to see this, and similarly to get to CU, not for the “core business” but simply to be reminded of the enthusiasm they bring. I might call this “somewhat naive” (or I might be just “somewhat cynical”) bit I needed to see and hear it, to be reminded of it. Sometimes, maybe this enthusiasm and vision is summed up in the phrase “dare to dream”. These people dare to dream, and still believe they can make a difference. Maybe they can too –  which is why I need to remind myself that it’s not enough to literally “dare to dream”, but that there is the need to “enact the dream”, to seek to bring it to birth, to give it a chance, to dare to do… And I speak to myself, the one who, after years of experience and disillusionment can so easily retreat into dreams and what-ifs and find every reason to never get beyond the dream.

These are the days of miracle and wonder.

Maybe my dreams are not big, and maybe I have already made lots of little differences along the way, but I need regular encounters to challenge me and encourage me. I’m sure it’s been said before more eloquently, but to stay young I need to keep the company of the young: to learn from their enthusiasm, to regain a little naivety and wonder. As long as I can do that, and periodically re-kindle the flame, then these will continue to be days of miracle and wonder, and I shall catch myself grumbling less often about minor niggles like the inevitable changes of living languages…



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