Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Roles We Play

I watched an excellent movie last week. It was called Darkon, and it is a documentary which examines the phenomenon of LARP, or Live Action Role Playing. Now, this is role playing in the Dungeons and Dragons Style, and Darkon is in fact an entire make believe world where people take roles and act them out in real life. Check out the web site for the Darkon Group here.

One of the people in the movie pointed out a fact which has inspired me to do some thinking. He said that everyone role plays all the time, and all that makes the people who do Darkon different is that they have fun doing it. This is a pretty profound thought, and made me think about what roles society forces us to play and how that all works. 

At first I thought of the nervous guy on a first date. He is doing everything that he can to impress his date. Is he really being himself? Or is he roleplaying the guy that he thinks the girl wants him to be. What about the first time you meet your boyfriend/girlfriends parents? Are you really yourself, or a version of yourself you rarely see.

There is also the work version of yourself... do you play a role there? Are you really happy to answer the phone EVERY time it rings? If we were naturally that happy, we would not have to go through training to teach us how to be happy. Are you more polite when in public then in private? Is that even a role?

Are we constantly roleplaying...or are the roles we play the things that define us a person? I lean more toward the second. All the things we do, we do for a reason, and the roles that we play participating in those activities define us as an individual. The fact that I am a husband, and a church elder, and a tennis player all blend together to create the amazing thing that is an individual human begin called Me. I am a function of my roles, and my roles are not avoidances of the true me. To think the opposite is to avoid taking responsibility for your own being. If you like to run around in a field and hit other people with big foam weapons, be proud of it, and don't write it off as something you do that is separate from your true being.



1 comment:

Rosiecat said...

JD, that was an excellent essay. I tend to agree with you; we constantly play different roles depending on the situation and its various nuances. And yes, it's confusing! How do you know who "you" are if you are always trying to play different roles? Ultimately, I think it's about comfort and satisfaction and sometimes it's about making other people happy. If you are consistently UNhappy with one of your roles, then it's time to look into ways to change it. The role of women in our society is a really great example of a role that seems to be experiencing a great deal of flux. Is the woman's place in the home? The boardroom? The classroom? Maybe it's all of those places--or none of them. For now, we seem to be saying that it's up to each woman to decide for herself where her place is, and ultimately, it's messy and confusing and heartwrenching (motherhood?!?).

So yes, I empathize with you on this role-playing dilemma. But I'll say this: I never feel like I'm playing a role when I spend time with you and the Wife.