On Sunday February 10, 2019 I turned 43 years old. It was the first day in a long time I took a day to do something I've been wanting to do for a while. Starting at 9:30am I started a Lord of the Rings movie marathon. I pulled out my blu-ray extended edition of the movies and spent twelve hours with my wife watching my favorite trilogy series. February 10, 2019 was honestly the most relaxing and enjoyable birthday I've had in a while and may have to make this a tradition.
I've always loved fantasy stories. I can't remember when it exactly started but I'm going to date it to September 17, 1983 when I was seven years old. It was on that date when the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon premiered. To this day it may be my all time action/adventure cartoon series. In my opinion, a cartoon series it still holds up today story-wise. I actually pull out the DVD set and watch it from beginning to end at least twice a year.
So why do I love fantasy stories so much? Simple, it's because the fantasy genre is so open. Truthfully, anything that can't happen in reality is considered fantasy. That means characters like Superman are technically fantasy. However, when most people think of fantasy they think of warriors, dragons, wizards, and such which is what I like to think about.
The reason I like fantasy is because I've always liked mythological creatures and stories which are woven in to a lot of fantasy stories. I'll never meet a dragon or a elf or even a gryphon. Not that I'd want to meet any up close and personal but I like the idea of their existence in these stories and that's the important thing. When I read a book, watch a movie or show, or read a comic I'm transported into these worlds. The characters are real to me but I'm just playing make believe in my mind.
Having this "pretend" experience is important to our brain. Not only does the story allow us an escape from our lives or to experience emotions by feeling for the characters, but it expands our imagination. I've talked to parents and children for years about the importance of creative play. Today, with kids on so many digital devices they are losing creative play. They spend too much time playing someone else's imagination. I know what you're going to say, "Michael, you just said that you play make believe by experiencing other people's story so aren't you contradicting yourself?" Actually, I'm not. As a child creative play is important to development. Imagination is important and something that should be cultivated in youth. Einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge" and I've always believed that. Nothing happens without someone imagining it and then figuring out the knowledge of how to bring it to life. That's why it's important to have that creative play when the imaginative mind is fertile.
When I was kid my creative play mostly came from my action figures. He-Man was able to meet the Transformers and Batman. I even took it further and made my own paper figures and built ships and caves and rooms for those paper figures to interact with. There were other things I could have done but didn't do for one reason or another.
One thing I never did as kid but wanted to was play Dungeons & Dragons. The cartoon introduced me to the world. I even picked up some of the manuals which I read and drew out of. However, I never played because I didn't know anyone who did and at that time you were made fun of if you did. As a kid I was a bit of an outcast in school and didn't need another reason to be made fun of. When I look back, I do wish I looked for people to play with. I didn't play my first game until a few years back and I loved it. Now, I'm get ready to DM (Dungeon Master) my first game soon.
What I love about D&D is that it allows me to pretend I'm someone I could never be and do things I could never do like be a dragon born ranger that fights goblins in a dark forest. This game isn't just for kids but for adults as well. As I researched more and more about D&D, I found out there is so much to the game. You can play it basic with just some paper and pencils and play what they call theater of the mind where you imagine everything in your head. However, there are visuals such as figures and sets you can use to have a visual representation of your game. There is a whole lot of do it yourself crafting that can be done. What I love most about the game is the storytelling aspect. Even though the DM sets up the story it's a community storytelling game. The players say what they want to do and use dice to see how what they want to do works out. Based on the roll of dice the DM will explain the outcome so the DM's story may change a bit.
I think role playing is a great way to have creative play for everyone. It doesn't have to be Dungeons & Dragons. If you like science fiction there are Star Wars role playing games. There are horror role playing games. Actually, there are role playing games for every genre. Just look around and see what's out there. My preference is fantasy worlds like Dungeons & Dragons.
One my birthday I couldn't not draw. Even though I was watching Lord of the Rings I drew a piece from the Hobbit when Bilbo meets Gollum. Here is the pen and ink drawing.
If you're unfamiliar with the story of Bilbo Baggins, here is a little song to tell you.
Fantasy is a great way to escape reality and explore imagination. You don't have to enjoy fantasy for the reasons I do. Heck, you don't even have to like the fantasy genre. I'm just sharing my thoughts and enjoyment on the genre. It's the type of storytelling I most enjoy and we're our lives is based around storytelling. From books to tv to movies to advertisements and even just telling someone how your day was, we are surrounded my stories.
If you'd like to learn more about storytelling you can purchase my app "A Simple Guide to Storytelling" app on both iOS and android for a reasonable price.
Remember, there is always time to GET IN TOON!