On the Long Dark of Midwinter


Midwinter has always been a tough holiday for me; the failing light combined with the stress of making sure everything is in order for Christmas usually sends me into a spiral of mild depression. It’s been like this for years; I know it’s coming. Tonight is the longest night of the year.

This time of year is always surprisingly introspective for me – I say surprisingly because I’m usually busier than a beaver in a dam-building contest, yet somehow I find time to stand around and woolgather and think about things too much.

I’ve been thinking about what Hugh at MMO Melting Pot wrote when he wrote up my last post on motivation, where he points out that I’ve been going through a dark night of the soul with Warcraft lately. It’s interesting to have other people evaluate you and hit on things you didn’t realize about yourself. @Druidis4fite wondered how I have the emotional energy to get attached to so many toons, and I realized that I didn’t and that was part of the problem.

So now I’m thinking about the dark nights we go through.

Part of it is because of the phrase Hugh used. Part of it is Windsoar’s excellent post on depression and gaming.

And part of it is just sitting back and realizing that while I’ve been writing about gaming and Warcraft here on CFN, because of the one rule I have for CFN – fuck the inner editor, you hit publish no matter what – I’ve really been writing about me, about those issues affecting my life outside of the video game I play at night to unwind, that it’s all connected and if I’m open and honest then those problems will be right front and center.

The games we play are nothing but a canvas for us to draw the lives we’d like to lead on. A place where we create stories, where we submerge our outer identities for a time and become something … different. Better? Maybe.

I think this is the idea I was dancing around when I wrote On the Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Writing about my own motivations has been really freeing. Really, really freeing. Yes, it was looking at it in Warcraft, but in looking at why I’m motivated – or not – in this game, I started to see patterns, at work, at home, in my other hobbies. Places where the extrinsic motivations had demolished the intrinsic ones. Activities where those extrinsic rewards were the only reason to keep doing something.

I’ve gotten all tied up and twisted around. In Warcraft, at my job – there shouldn’t be any shame in admitting this. My motivations for doing things aren’t for personal enjoyment anymore. You can call it fun, you can call it self-actualization, you can call it whatever you like – but while you have to do things for extrinsic reasons, you can’t neglect those intrinsic reasons which made you do something in the first place.

Midwinter is supposed to be a time of rebirth, of trying new things, of getting rid of the debris and flotsam from the previous year and starting over. Of finding that sweet joy of doing something you want to do, instead of doing something that needs to be done just to get something else.

Or maybe Midwinter is a time of taking a lot of naps. I’m not sure.


I do know, though, that I’m not done with the story of the young woman pictured above. Not yet.

I picked her back up, shouldered aside the bad memories long enough to craft her some new gear, respeced her to Demonology, and am relearning how to play that spec in the new 5-mans.

It’s new, it’s interesting, it’s a nice diversion. It’s not quite as much fun as tanking, but it’s still fun. It’s nice to run with my guildies again. She’s not back – not by a long shot – but I can at least say that I’ve had fun on my warlock recently.

We shall see how this turns out.


Filed under Cynwise's Field Notes

5 responses to “On the Long Dark of Midwinter

  1. Poneria

    I’ve tried to write about fun in affliction again. I keep writing about pan-warlock things, not just affliction. So I don’t know that I can persuade you back to affliction, just persuade you back to warlockery. 🙂

  2. Redbeard

    The depression that some people get this time of year can have an impact on their families as well. Yes, I know from personal experience, and it can be hard to watch a loved one kind of just shut down and you’re unable to really help them. When you have an outlet, and you can grab onto it and start to pull yourself out, that’s a wonderful thing.

  3. Cynwise of Stormwind

    @poneria: I tried Aff out in the new five mans and said, I think I need a break from Affliction, not because of Affliction qua Affliction but because it’s too close to what I did before. I considered Destro but struggled to get back in the flow.So I figured, what the hell, I’ll tear it all down and try Demo again. Haven’t done it since Wrath in ICC, let’s see how it works. It’s different than I remember, but forcing me to start over fresh, assume I don’t know anything again, and relearn the spec is doing good things for me, I think.I’m playing Cynwise again. I’ve done the 5 mans and might even venure into LFR soon. It’s … it’s hard. I’m not sure I want to stop and analyze it yet. But I’m back in the game again, slowly, tenatively. I don’t want to think about it too much just yet.Small steps. Small victories.@redbeard: Oh yeah. Very much so. 🙂

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