Thanks for the Little Things

On days like today, when I’m having a really hard time eating, working, sleeping, even just existing, it’s important to take stock and remember what I do have to live for – even if it’s the small things.

I’m just going to stand here and brood. That seems appropriate.

Like, for example, leveling up my warden. I REALLY want to get another character a war steed, and he’s not going to level himself up to 75 on his own. I’m serious. There have been times in the past couple weeks where this is literally the ONLY thing I can think of as wanting at the time. So much so that I even considered buying an aria or a different level advancement just so I could get there. But if I do that, then isn’t my purpose gone? Last time I blogged about my warden he was level 22. Now he’s level 58. This all happened in the course of a few days, and even though it was a VIP appreciation weekend with boosted XP, that’s still A LOT of time to spend on the computer. And normally no, I would not recommend playing a game that much in one sitting nor would I actually do it myself, but here’s the big catch: I got through those days.

Here’s an in game horse I found that reminds me of an actual real life horse I loved and used to ride.
I just thought this one looked cool.

Between napping, leveling, and taking every chance I got to look at the auto-generated war steeds in Bree and Rohan, I got through those few days. LOTRO might not cure sadness or depression, but it does give me an escape – some other purpose – and maybe most importantly, a feeling of progress.

A red roan. Perhaps the future mount for my warden?

I’ve grown up in a rather conservative home – my parents were not – and ARE NOT – gamers. They saw me spending time playing on the computer as bad and unproductive, and that rubbed off on me. I’ll be the first to admit that I have my issues, but this one probably cuts to the core of a lot of my insecurities: I viewed one of the few things I could actually do to feel better as a sign of laziness and defeat. So…basically…I felt bad about feeling better?

Okay this one is also super pretty…what was that rule about war horse per character again?

But it’s not like I’m neglecting daily duties to play on my computer. If reading helps you, then read. If playing music helps you, then play music (which I often do – I play piano, guitar, sing, and create and record arrangments for my acapella group). Do I wish I was doing something more with my life right now? But a really wise mentor once told me: If we could do better, we would (and no it wasn’t Gandalf lol). Although now would be a relevant time to mention a quote of his. When Frodo is telling him how he wishes the trials of the ring didn’t have to happen during his lifetime, Gandalf responds: “so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” – Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring.

So what am I trying to say? Basically, I love LOTRO. I love being a nerdy computer gamer who wants to ride horses around in a digital landscape and wear leather armor and shoot orcs. Because sometimes, that’s a hell of a ton better than real life, and in the moments when I really feel trapped, I can log onto my computer and explore new worlds and be new people and try new things. I get to stand right beside my favorite book characters and witness epic battles and play an important part in making history. When I play this game, I MATTER. And maybe this sounds stupid, but when life just outright sucks you have to find SOMETHING to keep you going, whether it’s a video game or an upcoming vacation or the promise of change or whatever.. As long as you find that thing and it HELPS, does it really matter where or how you find your meaning?

um…who made the ground red? Did a developer have a random field day?

Basically what I’m saying is that life has pretty much sucked lately, but thanks to LOTRO it hasn’t sucked as much as it could have and I’m still functioning. It gives me something to look forward to in the tough times; it gives me a reason – no matter how small – to ride out the storm.

Just the other day, for example, after waking up hungry at 11:30 pm because I had given up on trying to force feed myself dinner at 7 and simply gone to bed, I made myself some oatmeal and logged onto LOTRO. And what do I find? A band. Like, an actual, proper band parked right outside the Auction House in South Bree playing A-Ha’s “Take on me.” No joke. It was incredible. And I don’t normally play this game with the sound on, but one of the band members was posting lyrics to the local chat. So I turned on the in game sound. I asked them if it was oldies night and they said they would take requests so I asked if they knew any Queen and they just started playing Bohemian Rhapsody. I gave them a shout out in world chat. My champ applauded and danced, cheering whenever they finished a song. It was so bizarre and amazing and in that moment I just loved everything. Of course, the guy then started becoming racist toward a certain ethnicity (which I will NOT mention) and misogynistic which, as a female gamer, I do NOT appreciate, so I promptly left because I refuse to engage people online. Quick sidebar, I think it’s really funny how people assume gender based on your toon when you could be literally anyone behind that computer screen. Maybe it’s because we as humans just love to fit people into properly sized boxes all the time and tend to freak out if we can’t. All I know is, I’m treated differently depending on which gender my current toon prescribes to. Surprisingly I’ve generally been treated more respectfully when playing as a female, which I find odd considering in real life we women are much more prone to harassment. In LOTRO it seems to have (so far) been the opposite. Other people tend to be MUCH more confrontational with me when they think I’m a guy and seem to adopt a relaxed, dare I say it, obnoxious? attitude. The band guy, for instance, obviously thought of me as an ally and kept calling me “dude” and “bro” despite the fact that I totally did NOT approve of what he was saying and told him as much. I left before he could start insulting me (I have a no-engagement policy when it comes to trolls), but I did log off my main and onto a female toon just to see what he was doing when my watchful “male” gaze had disappeared. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately? I’m honestly not sure which would have been better…) nothing changed – he remained a jerk – but while I was toon hopping someone else gave him a proper scolding which I greatly appreciated. Pretty sure he didn’t get it though…Not sure an RPG is the best platform for social commentary…

Adventures in the Lone Lands – an accidental screenshot of my warden being dazed in a fittingly red pool of water

Anyways, after leaving the quickly escalating performance, I found ANOTHER band in Bree, which was more of a medieval ensemble – and that was cool too. I just love those small in game interactions where you acknowledge other players or see something else going on in game that you’ve never seen before. Like once, I was leaving the Vault in West Bree and I caught a role play conversation going on over the “say” chat. A level 5 female human and a level 105 (or something) male elf were role playing right outside the gates of Bree, conversing as their characters and even addressing the guard at the gate. So what did I do? I naturally put my human champion into “stealth” mode, switched to a dark outfit (lol no I didn’t I was already wearing black – but I did put a hood on) and ran behind some buildings where I “couldn’t be seen.” As they walked to the Prancing Pony – and I do mean walked –like actually walked – I followed via rooftops and read their conversations. I mean, if it was private I suppose they would have used IM. But it was funny! And it was also so refreshing to see these two players interacting with this virtual world in a way that I had never seen before. I’m sure there are lots of people who role play on LOTRO, but I’d never actually seen it happen. It was just super cool! And I felt a little cool myself because I felt like I became part of their story. I even snuck into the Prancing Pony via the hobbit door on the north side to keep hearing their story. I eventually got bored and logged off to go to bed, but the point is I got to experience something completely new and fun just through my computer screen. And yes, maybe it was a little rude of me to “eavesdrop,” but I honestly just became invested in their story and wanted to know what was happening! I’m a curious person! You can’t just say you’re going on some secret quest and then not tell me what it is! I gotsta know!!


So here’s to the little things in life that keep us going, like finding a near-identical horse in Rohan while hunting war bands or running across a band with an unfortunately misguided leader who plays beautiful music through a computer screen. Things like leveling up a character or grinding to get a new cosmetic jacket that you’ve wanted for literally YEARS (see my post – the Triumphant lol) or even just getting a new hide pattern for one of your horses. Even things as small as /bowing to another character in game when you’ve briefly worked together to kill Grimbark in Agamaur or waving at a kinny when you pass them in Bree. Things like pretty horses and epic weapons and intriguing stories and inspiring characters. I don’t know who at Turbine or Standing Stone Games or Warner Brothers or Tolkien or WHATEVER deserves my thanks, but whoever you are – I appreciate you and what you have done for me and many other gamers. And when the world (or world chat)’s got you down, maybe take a break. Change the filters on your chat settings. Unplug from the madness. Because all that bluster about whether or not pit-bulls are aggressive (Seriously guys? They’re dogs. They’re flipping adorable dogs get over yourselves) or whether Trump is ruining our country or saving it (no comment) isn’t really where the action is happening anyways. Go see a band. Go ride a horse. Go run through some red water. It’s probably not gonna hurt you. And if it does, you won’t be killed – just temporarily defeated. And there’s always a rez spot not too far away where you can start again.

Heck yeah I am.

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