Has it been so long?
I've been on the receiving end of some subtle (and some not-so-subtle) prompting in the last ten months to blog again. The truth is that I just didn't have anything to say. The man-cave lies empty and unused, primed figures lined up on the painting table awaiting detailing that never came. Resin vehicles lie in pieces. Last year's Big Birthday Bash failed to happen, and I think in all this time I've rolled dice in exactly one wargame (which was a rather entertaining skirmish in which my Redcoats came within a hair's breadth of capturing Bonnie Prince Charlie as he fled for France).
It's an uncomfortable truth that for many of us, our passion for our hobby runs in cycles. I think that as gamers it's important that we not only understand why we play (war)games, but also why we don't. As a matter of fact, the blogosphere is the perfect place to observe this phenomenon, Prolific posters go silent like I did all the time. Sometimes it's down to other "real life" matters taking up too much time (also known as "MyWifeOrderedMeToStopPlayingWithToySoldiers Syndrome") Sometimes one hobby is supplanted by another, pursued with an equal depth of passion.
Sometimes you just stop.
For me, it's been a mix of all these things (apart from the wife bit). In the 16 months since I lost my father and, at the time, my reason for living, I've been battling an ever increasing sense of... apathy, I suppose that's the closest word to describe it. In some ways I've been making progress to return to the "real world", such as taking a temporary contract at my former employer covering for someone's paternity leave. I became involved with a local cancer charity, and made moves to become a volunteer. I've also dabbled in another media - that of making YouTube videos, but that too has fallen by the wayside.
I've also had a significant health issue - a bout of flu early in the year. And not the "really bad cold" that most of us call flu, but the "kills 20-50k people per year" influenza that had me bedridden for a week, unable to work for a month and still dealing with follow-on issues three months later.
Through all that time, wargaming just never quite made it onto the list of priorities, at least not enough to do anything about it. The sheer hassle of digging out figures and terrain and setting up a tabletop seems daunting at the moment. The Bonnie Prince Charlie game came about as a long-term project of Bruce the Scot's, all I had to do was turn up, move miniatures and roll dice. No effort required, and still it took the effort of a few friends to literally drag me out of the house to go and play.
And yet curiously, at the same time, I've still considered myself a wargamer throughout. I took part in the Empire Of The Dead kickstarter which netted a really nice batch of VSF/Steampunk miniatures. I've bought several kits of airship frameworks in laser-cut MDF, with a view to extending the GASLIGHT games into the third dimension. All with exactly ZERO motivation to actually use any of these things.
By now some of you are no doubt putting two and two together. And yes, I think you're right. Were I to seek diagnosis, I'm almost certain it would come back that I'm suffering from some form of clinical depression, something that's no stranger to many of us. I don't want to do anything. Anything. At All. Worse than that, I feel bad about not wanting to do anything, which plunges right into a vicious circle of apathy. And in turn that's leading on to a form of borderline agoraphobia.
Luckily, even without the benefit of professional diagnosis or therapy, I can see this pattern of behaviour and recognise it as being Double-Plus-Ungood. So while I feel like I want to do nothing at all, just sit alone at home curled up in a corner waiting for the end, yet I know that's the worst thing I could possibly do. Of all the activities I've participated in in the last few years, wargaming is by far the most social, and has the potential to be the perfect tonic for what's ailing me. What's more, I know from past experience that having a semi-regular gaming session is great motivator for doing housework, something else that's fallen foul of the growing apathy in recent months.
So I'm determined to set myself back on track towards where I was 2-3 years ago. The time and effort required to setup a game feels like a great barrier wall, but it's one I'm determined to climb over, demolish or otherwise get past.
I *will* get some figure painting done.
I *will* setup the big table and have a 6'x4' scale wargame somehow.
There *will* be a Big Birthday Bash this year.
We *will* rise again.