So it's been a while since my last blog, mainly because I started to overthink what it was about.
The original idea was to wax poetical about how high school never really ends (like the Bowling For Soup song). I got to thinking about how I would work it, the comparisons I would make, so on, and in the end it turned out to be quite a large topic - or at least my brain made it that way.
So I went in another direction; I decided to write one about Destiny, which I have been enjoying immensely - but then what would I say about it? Again I entered thinky stage, a stage that - in regard to that topic - never produced a blog.
Following that was the idea of chatting about the music I am enjoying right now but that got really thinky. What albums would I single out? The latest Counting Crows, Rise Against, Slash, Gaslight? Perennial favourites like The Cinematic Orchestra or Alice In Chains? So to try and decide I listened to a bunch of music, which didn't help matters at all.
Several times, the parties I game with have ended up being called Team Overthink. I think the reason why is perhaps connected to why people overthink things in "real life", or whatever the popular term is for when you're not playing your lvl17 Wizard.
Maximising the chances of success - that's just the beginning. We've all failed, and for the most part, we don't like it. Failure is bad, especially in a team, when other people are counting on us. The consequences of that failure vary wildly. Sometimes those consequences are NOT getting something awesome; sometimes they are the lives of the characters involved, or everyone within ten miles, or the fate of reality itself. A party of professional murder-hobos will go to immense lengths to ensure that when the ancient dragon dies, they can still get the gemstone stuck in its face.
One of those consequences isn't even necessarily failure. It's the thought of making the wrong decision. Something that flashes back even a little negatively can be looked upon as a screw-up of Windows ME-esque proportions - because whatever the actual difficulties caused by such a decision, we get to look back at when we made it and regret it constantly. Who cares if it got us past the army of goblins and destroyed a dragon with zero effort? It cost us a frigging gemstone.
It's about ensuring that there's no little trick that trips us up, too. Ensuring our attempt to achieve whatever we are trying to achieve is watertight, that no fickle twist of fate or minor oversight or well-meaning accident on behalf of someone else will sink it unjustly. Of course, many of those little tricks are products of our imaginative overthinking, too - but try telling the overthinker that, see what happens. So what if the dragon is weak to sonic attacks? That might shatter the gemstone!
We can't help it. Just like in a game, life has consequences for failure, or making the wrong decision.
The thing is, though - the game, we can put down afterwards. I've had characters die, or had bad things happen to them, or made really harsh decisions with those characters. Yesterday the first Pathfinder character I've ever had to actually get a Wish used it to dispose of the thing that gave him the Wish in the first place. That hurt. That decision cost my character potentially damn-near infinite wealth or a significant amount of power. There was no way Junayd would do anything else, though - that's who he is. So that is how it is justified, and when we put the character sheets down, we talk about it and laugh.
Outside of game, we don't get to put anything down and laugh in the same way. We're still engaged in the world that the consequences are a part of. Don't pay council tax? Expect a visit from a man with hobnail boots and a name like Mister Granite. Get absolutely mortal when you're meant to be up for work at 5am? At best, have a terrible day at work - at worst, get alcohol poisoning, get the sack, do something stupid while wasted and face criminal charges.
That's why it is so easy to overthink decisions. Reality plays for keeps, always has. These are the lessons we learn over the important things, so how are we meant to react to the trivial?
It begins in school - though while half the consequences there are direct (punishment for failure or misbehaviour), several are indirect (having no job prospects the moment one turns 18). We either learn that there are these consequences - and we run the chances of becoming an overthinker - or we just don't learn at all, and...
...well, we turn into something far worse.
So here's to the overthinkers - because frankly it's better than not thinking at all.