Last night I played the game Tokaido with my parents. In the game each player takes on the role of a pilgrim traveling from Kyoto to Edo (Tokyo) in the 11th century. During the journey players can accrue points by collecting souvenirs, meeting fellow travelers, donating to the shrines, bathing in the hot springs, painting the landscapes, and by eating different meals at the inns along the road. Each pilgrim also has their own unique flair – my mother played the painter, my father the messenger, and I – well – my character liked to meet people.
There is no “acting” in the game – however I found myself interested in my character. My mother unintentionally kept blocking me from doing what my character did best – meeting people – and so my character went to the curiosity shops, baths, and inns to engage in what can only be called a very luxurious lifestyle for the first two “days” of the game. On the third day my character was finally able to have a couple of “encounters” with fellow travelers and discovered her love for painting – and having the extra cash now that she was no longer going to curio shops also started donating substantial amounts of money to the shrine. By day four, the final day of the game, my character still was eating very well – but in all other ways had “thrown off the cares of the material world”.
The actions I took were all in the board game; how I interpreted the actions was all me. Still I enjoyed it – and in its own way I certainly could relate to my character’s journey. I took up painting in “real life” at a point in my own “journey” when words were no longer enough to express the emotions I was experiencing. Following this I found a path to gratitude for the simplest of things – the ability to be mostly pain free on any given day, the ability to walk, the fact that there are those around me to care for my well being. While I have not given up my love for picking up “souvenirs” along the road (especially not board games) I have come to a point where I look more often at the value of the souvenir to engender encounters with others – rather than just owning something to own it.
The actions we have available to us every day are not always beautiful brush strokes across the landscapes, at times they are the more meticulous actions of cleaning a house, completing paperwork, or something in a similar vein, yet even here we have the capabilities to interpret these actions as things we must do, or actions we choose to take so that we can have a clean external and internal environment where new thoughts and ideas have the capability to take root and grow.