Dad used to tell the following story about me, more as a means to demonstrate the nature of his character than to demonstrate the nature of mine.
When I was a boy, probably around Harrison’s age, I wanted a goldfish. I don’t know why I wanted a goldfish, but I wanted one. Instead of buying a goldfish and a bowl for me, Dad went out and bought a twenty-gallon tank and a pump and filters and scads of tropical fish. “What do you think of that, David?” he asked. I wasn’t very appreciative. I wanted a goldfish.
Dad laughed when he told this story. It illustrated one of his character flaws. Whatever he did, he did with enthusiasm. He didn’t want to just sail boats, he wanted to build his own, and so he did (or tried to, anyhow). He didn’t want to just use computer programs, he wanted to write his own, and so he did.
Many of you will have recognized some of the same tendency in me. It’s often been remarked how I obsess over something for a period of time, only to leave it behind and move on to something else. The list is long: astronomy, chess, computer programming, tropical fish, bicycling, photography, gardening, board games, soccer, Latin, etcetera, etcetera.
I am a dilettante. This is not a quality of which I’m proud.
The crux of the problem is that when I obsess with something, I do so at the expense of other aspects of my life. In reality, these obsessions are nothing more than a manifestation of a fundamental character flaw.
Why am I overweight? Why have I had money issues? Why does my library contain more books that I will ever possibly read? Why? Because I am, historically, unable to practice moderation.
My unhappiness runs deep. It pervades my soul, my spirit. It’s been my dominant mode for the past three months. I could write for a week on this subject alone, but I won’t. It’s something that I need to overcome. (And Kris is helping me to do so.)
Instead, I’d like to draw attention to one possible source of my unhappiness, a drastic lapse of moderation.
World of Warcraft was released November 23rd, 144 days ago. Since then, I’ve spent almost exactly fourteen days playing the game. Yes, that’s right: fourteen days. A full ten percent of my life has been spent in game since Thanksgiving.
This is immoderation at its worst.
What do I have to show for this time? A host of virtual identities:
7 days, 7 hours, and 40 minutes on Proudmoore:
Maturin, 35th level night elf hunter (6d 8h 4m)
Beytu, 7th level tauren warrior (2h 47m)
Judyth, 12th level human priest (17h 41m)
Aylyana, 2nd level troll rogue (13m)
Morted, 6th level undead warlock (1h 53m)
Zapf, 2nd level gnome mage (1h 2m)
1 hour and 30 minutes on Azjul-Nerob:
Muerta, 5th level undead warlock (1h 30m)
21 hours and 17 minutes on Windrunner:
Norrell, 13th level undead warlock (12h 25m)
Poak, 6th level gnome warrior (2h 9m)
Snapp, 8th level gnome mage (4h 43m)
5 days, 18 hours, and 5 minutes on Alleria:
Ocius, 25th level troll hunter (2d 10h 27m)
Chantica, 27th level tauren shaman (3d 2h 6m)
Beytu, 10th level tauren druid (5h 32m)
The really scary numbers in the above list are those for Alleria. I’ve been on Alleria for about six weeks, which means I’ve spent a full day each week playing there. Even scarier, I started Chantica two weeks ago today. So, in the 336 hours since she was created, I’ve played 74 hours with her. I’m afraid to even do that math.
I’ve played this game for 336 hours and 12 minutes since its release. That’s more time than I spent playing Starcraft (and my Starcraft time was spread out over a year). It’s nearly as much time as I spent playing Civilization II (and my Civ2 time was spread out over a decade).
What could I have done with those 336 hours and 12 minutes? I could have listened to thirty audio books. I could have read sixty physical books. I could have probably mastered the rudiments of Latin so that I’d be reading Virgil or Ovid in the original now. I could have taught myself woodworking, and maybe have even built a bookshelf or two. I could have fertilized the blueberries and the grapes. I could have pruned all the trees. I could have replied to e-mail, written to friends, devoted more time to this weblog. I could have made photographs. I could have done lots of things.
I’m not going to quit playing World of Warcraft. It’s fun. Too much fun. I enjoy the time I spend with Will and Joel and Andrew. And Scott S. recently purchased the game, too, and I look forward to playing with him. I am, however, going to practice some moderation, spending far less time online than I am now.
So: Will, Joel, Andrew, and Scott — e-mail or call if you’re going to be on-line and want to go adventuring together. I’ll join you with pleasure. Until then, however, I’m going to be studying Latin.
(Apparently Nate has a similar addiction.)
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