One of my top ten people I wanted to meet, as well as an idol of mine, passed away. Gary Gygax created the game that has occupied the majority of my free time for almost 30 years now. His passage got me thinking about his inspiration for the game: fantasy. We all have fantasies, we all daydream, and there is power in this. I believe that the power of fantasy is one of the most influential forces in this life.
As children we all dreamed of being a star athlete, an astronaut, or a powerful wizard. We wondered what it would be like to fly like a bird or run like a cheetah. For most of us, as we grew older these fantasies fell away as adult life became far more complex. Who has time for daydreaming when there’s a mortgage to pay? It’s the people that never gave up those fantasies that have the power to move us with their creative works. How many of us have repeatedly enjoyed a good book or movie because of the fantasy it invokes in us as we savor the work?
True, Dungeons and Dragons and other role playing games take fantasy to the literal limits, bringing to life the works of J.R.R Tolkien, David Eddings, Isaac Asimov and George Lucas. In the same token, movies like Conan the Barbarian, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and 2001: A Space Odyssey are stories that were fueled by man’s insatiable curiosity. What is fantasy but asking “What if…?” or “I wonder…?” Would we have the telescope if Galileo hadn’t wondered what the stars really looked like? If it weren’t for the Wright Brothers dreaming of flying would we be able to travel long distances and overseas in a matter of hours, rather than days or weeks? Fantasy is curiosity in panoramic vision and without this power man would still be living in caves and fearing the dark.
Fantasy has uses other than inspiring man to evolve; it’s a powerful tool for the psyche. Dreams and fantasies are the minds way of sorting through its troubles. Therapists sometimes use fantasy to delve into what is troubling a patient in an indirect but revealing way. I myself have experienced this first hand through my fight with depression. In my case I was encouraged to write, create, and role play even more than I had in the past. Granted, for me the role playing aspect wasn’t hard, as I’d been doing so for over 25 years at that point. But the strange side effect was the unleashing of my creative spirit. I started by creating adventures for role playing games but I’ve recently taken up sketching and drawing (something I’d never even considered in the past) as well as rekindle my first love, writing music. This had greatly affected me in a positive way. I’m more expressive and open now.
Mankind owes a lot to its collective dreams and fantasies. The power that fantasy truly has is amazing and it’s an incredible gift that many seem to take for granted. Fantasy has affected our society, it has given us a break from the troubles of everyday life, and has taken us to the stars. We adults need to let the child in us out and allow him to dream. Who knows where that power will take us next?
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