Reflections on a Life of Geek

There are times in my life when I look at myself in the mirror and ask why? Why don’t I let go of the childish things from my past? Why do I choose to allow myself to be swept away in the adventures of superheroes, dashing knights and evil wizards?

Why do I dream of miracles increasingly fantastic and take for granted the miracles all around me? I never have an answer. I’m nowhere near wise enough to truly understand the machinations of my mind.

That doesn’t stop the asking though, and I would wager that I am not the only one in the geek community who feels the same way. So, if I can’t answer the question why, perhaps I can answer a different question and start the long road to personal understanding? What do I get out of a life as a geek?

It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to. – Bilbo Baggins

The first and most obvious answer would be adventure. Getting swept away in an epic battle between good and evil is an adventurous and romantic notion. I want to know that my actions can have a profound impact in the fate of the world. In other words, I want my life to matter.

That is a basic need, the same need that drives humanity to do all the great and terrible things our species is capable of. But like many, I do have a general direction in my life. I know where I want my path to end, I know how I want to matter to the world. There might not be any dragons left to slay, but the need to prove myself doesn’t dictate my dreams.

Perhaps at the core this need for adventure plays a part in explaining the why, but for me the daydream doesn’t mask the mundane so much as it punches a ticket to the fantastic.

With great power comes great responsibility. -Ben Parker

So if adventure seeking doesn’t really answer what I am getting out of all of this, what about nobility? Chivalry is dead, nice guys finish last, and nobility is an all but forgotten notion in today’s society. That doesn’t change the fact that a person can still achieve great personal satisfaction from “doing the right thing.”

Perhaps I keep coming back because in the movies, in the comics and in the games there is still great reward for nobility. Even modern stories that paint broad strokes in shades of grey instead of black vs white, evoke a great understanding about right and wrong.

I am beginning to think that a search for nobility is sending me on the right track from my answer, but it still isn’t right. I might listen to the score from Pirates of the Caribbean once or twice a month, but when I shut my eyes I am not getting lost in the secret nobility of Jack Sparrow, so what am I getting swept away by?

Do or do not, there is no try – Yoda

I would love to think I look to these fantastic worlds for strength. That when I am facing the toughest of life’s challenges the teachings of masters Yoda and Splinter guide me. Much in the same way that poets and philosophers guide the lives of so many other great men and women.

I think this is actually more about the human condition than my personal justification for going to a six movie Avengers marathon. If you ate Trix as a kid every day, you might look to that rabbit as a bastion of resiliency. No matter how often he fails, no matter what horrors befall him, he always comes back.

You can find strength anywhere, and I think our minds do a good job of highlighting that in our darkest times of need. So while I do draw strength from knowing against all odds Harry Potter still won the tri-wizard cup, it really isn’t the answer to the question at hand.

Think you’ve seen it all? Think again. Outside those doors, we might see anything. We could find new worlds, terrifying monsters, impossible things. And if you come with me… nothing will ever be the same again! – The Doctor

Maybe the answer is the great unknown. The endless search for knowledge unfamiliar. I know for a fact this is it for some of you, some of the greatest minds in history often looked to fantasies to drive their ambitions to discover. Does this fit with me though?

I certainly feel the allure of obtaining unobtainable knowledge. Some times I even dream of the farthest reaches of space or the deepest depth of the oceans. It is also true that geeky things often posit what if. Dreaming of different worlds where things might be different, which in turn shines a light on unknown parts of ourselves.

But this can’t be what I am looking for, I am not a man of science. When I look to the heavens I do not ask why or what if, I imagine. I imagine flying through the clouds free in the air like the man of steel. I imagine the great cloud cities that lie just out of reach, and I imagine how many magic beans will it take to get there. Which leads me to…

Your ancestors called it magic, but you call it science. I come from a land where they are one and the same. – The Mighty Thor

Magic. Pure imagination incarnate. The force that allows farm boys to cripple empires and lets true love’s kiss break any spell. I feel very strongly that magic does exist in this world, it just doesn’t take the obvious forms. Going back to relive the magic could actually be one of the biggest things I get out of geek culture.

When you experience something magical, you feel it. It is a tangible moment when you are utterly and completely transported. Most of these childish things we cling to have deep ties to that old magic. When we are young anything was possible, and magic was a part of your everyday life. They say when you get older, you put away childish things, but in reality you are just killing what little magic is left in your world.

I think magic plays a major part in why I come back to these things. I refuse to let magic die in my life. The moment that happens, awe becomes a memory, and wonder is deleted from your contact list, never to be heard from again.

This answer may not be definitive, it might not even be right, but it’s a start. No one will ever crack this code in 1200+ words, but I want the world to know that my generation and the generation before it stopped putting down childish things because we get so much more out of them. When we argue about why Batman can defeat anyone with an hour to prepare, we are not wasting our time. We are growing as people in brand new ways.

One day I might answer the personal question of why I do it, why I don’t settle down behind a desk and crunch numbers, buy a house and raise a family? Someday clarity will come, but for now I feel heartened knowing that if this meandering and self-serving editorial says anything, it says that holding onto childish things can still lead to complex and fulfilling lives.

It also says I am a huge nerd, but if you are reading this far down, you probably already picked up on that.

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