As a teacher, I spend so much time in front of classes repeating that word, so much time looking at strategies to encourage that practice, and yet the art of doing it in my own life continues to elude me.
I’m talking about settling. Not fluttering from notion to notion like an easily distracted butterfly, not sulking and fuming your way through a task you’re not really interested in, but just staying cool and Zen about the whole business of whatever it is you’re up to and getting on with something that has a degree of longevity to it.
I have trouble settling on hobby projects. This hasn’t always been the case; eight years ago, when I came back into gaming after a self-imposed hiatus, I picked up two armies and invested a lot of time and energy into making them mine: there were tactical and thematic principles (feeding off each other, in many cases), developed backstories, semi-original conversions and a real sense of progress from the original models to the newest additions.
Proper hobbying, in other words.
Something went wrong, though. Something changed. I still don’t know what it was, but as I sit here looking at the Tyranids, wondering whether I really like them and whether that’s why I can’t seem to paint them to my satisfaction, and contemplating the three stalled WFB armies that have attempted to replace my long-serving Vampire Counts (dated modelling, paint jobs that embarassed me, and a playstyle that was becoming stale, but I should never have sold them; at least I cared about them, which is more than I can say for anything else I contemplate doing), I think it’s time for a bit of reflection and contemplation. How did things come to be this way?
I envy people like Shiny; he has stood by his Skaven through thick and thin for about as long as we’ve both been playing (I did finally persuade him to abandon his beautiful, battleforcey Eldar, but he’d complained about them for something like seven years, so that’s not a huge loss), and still has every model he’s ever bought for them. I wish I could stick to a project like that.
Maybe part of the problem is that I think ‘project’ now, not ‘army’ or ‘collection’. Professionalism has gotten its claws into me, figuratively speaking, and it’s barring me from following my heart. Maybe that’s a lot of hippy nonsense that leads to huge collections of stuff that frustrates one’s tabletop endeavours. Maybe that’s a sign that you’re emotionally secure and settled in your hobby endeavours, though; that you’ve trial-and-errored your way up to proficiency (which I certainly did with the Vampires). Maybe that’s unaffordable and insensible; why waste time and money on figures that don’t see use? Maybe the definition of ‘use’ is at fault here, and maybe the time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
This is the trouble I always have with self-reflection; too many maybes, too many possibilities, and no settling on a line of enquiry. Maybe I’m just a restless person by nature – or maybe that’s taking refuge from important self-criticism and development. Maybe I’m overthinking this – maybe I’m overthinking my choice of armies.
It’s certainly true that all these half-hearted here-today-gone-tomorrow endeavours have been borne out of agonising, research and consideration, save one. I think that looking at each of my failed projects in depth might be worth a go; I also think that depth means length, here in the world of blogging, and that means I should probably pause and let those who don’t like text have a breather.
Ironically, I’d planned a whole series of entries for this month, which the thought process here is hijacking. If only I could settle on a plan…