Day 28: What is the single most important lesson you've learned from playing Dungeons & Dragons?
If I have to narrow it down to one thing, the most important lesson I learned from D&D is that not only do we need heroes, we need to BE heroes.
D&D taps into our ancient need for communal storytelling. We've always come together to share stories in order to communally exorcise our fears and promote our dreams.
And in our stories, there are countless examples, both great and small, how someone rose up to be a hero.
But heroism is not as rare as we've been fooled into believing. Rather, every one of us, every day, encounters situations in which we can rise above the average and be a hero, either for ourselves or others.
If you wake up every day and must overcome clinical depression just to get out of bed, you're a hero. If you decide to not give in to road rage when someone cuts you off, you're a hero. If you choose to help the new guy at work rather than ignore his struggles because society tells you he's a threat to your job, you're a hero. If you're a shy kid who overcomes his fears of rejection to join a D&D game at a local game store, you're a hero. And the world needs you. No matter how "small" you think your contribution may be, the world needs you.
Why? Because today, most of us are told the exact opposite: you're not good enough, smart enough, talented enough, rich enough. It's time to reverse that trend, and to believe in your own powers to be a hero, in whatever way it manifests in your life. Because you need to feel that way. Because everyone needs to feel that they can make a difference.
We need to broaden our definition of what it means to be heroic. And that's not because we need to "cheapen" or "reduce" what it means to be a hero. Rather, we need to remember what heroic stories were meant to do for us: inspire us to emulate their virtuous behaviors. Heroic stories weren't meant to make us feel small or unworthy. They were, and still are, meant to make us look for those same virtues in ourselves.
I believe D&D will not die away, as some have predicted. Rather, as long as it continues to be a means to connect with our deepest desires for community, dreaming, creation, and heroism, the pastime will continue to thrive.