I’ve mentioned on occasion that I’m a fairly big board game geek. Well, that interest led me down a fascinating rabbit hole of information about the earliest board game historians know about. They call it the “Royal Game of Ur” after the city where it was discovered in the 1920’s or so. It’s an early precursor to backgammon and checkers, and it’s about 4,500 years old. Historians had to decipher the rules from old cuneiform tablets.
Of course, now you can buy a replica for like forty bucks!
So, obviously I did that. And I’ve already played it twice with my oldest daughter. Having a kid is so amazing from a build-your-own-friend standpoint. Without the massive pressures and responsibilities adulthood brings, they have enough time and mental bandwidth to both totally explore their own things and be really interested in all of your things too. So I get to train her to love my hobbies like board games and camping while she still has tons of time to explore her own, like karate and collecting snow globes.
When I was a kid, like all kids, I told anybody who would listen every thought that popped into my head in real time. I especially loved talking about my various interests and hobbies to anyone who didn’t get away fast enough. Then, some time in adolescence, I started being more guarded about who I shared with.
My hobbies and interests weren’t very mainstream. I always worried about what sharing them would say about me. That persisted well into my working years, as I was trying to prove myself to be competent and professional – the last thing I wanted was for anyone to associate me with anything other than work. I’d still talk about my hobbies, but only in circles where I knew people were already very likely to share them. Game shops or specific internet forums were great, but otherwise no.
But here’s the thing – that’s a lonely life. It’s so much easier, when someone asks “so what do you do for fun” to answer – “I find the most complicated board games I can and study strategy guides for them. I teach myself bush-craft skills and then go camping and mess them up. I write a weird daily blog. And I get my kids to like all that stuff too so I have permanent partners for all of it.”
I’ve met some great people that way. People who became really excellent friends, but at first the only thing we shared in common was some angle of one of these hobbies.
So listen – when you find a cool video late at night about an ancient board game they dug up out of a Mesopotamian ruin, if you think that’s awesome, tell someone about it. Buy a copy and ask them to play. Share your weird thing.
I promise, I absolutely promise, that if you have no one else to share it with you can share it with me. I’ll never judge, I’ll always be into it, and I’ll think it’s awesome.
Someone always does.