Finding a new sword

I love to play fantasy adventure games on my laptop, especially right now Neverwinter Nights. In those sort of games, it’s typical to start out as a fighter character who wields a plain, simple sword. It’s a good sword, capable of doing a fair bit of damage, but there’s not much sexy about it. Just a long piece of metal for bashing in the heads of a few kobolds. Next kobold.

As you journey on, sure enough the character undoes enough kobolds to begin raising in levels, until the amazing day when he finds his first longsword +1. At the beginning this is a wonderful event, because, you see, it’s a magical sword. It almost glows with possibilities. It’s likely has very little weight, and shines with its own light when you wield it. It probably has its own name.

It reminds of the day when I traded in a Toshiba laptop for my first Apple PowerBook. It was like going from a longsword to a longsword +1. (There are many changes in my life which bear a striking similarity to the feelings evoked by adventure games).

A few days ago I decided to upgrade to one of the newest PowerBooks, which were announced this past week. I made a little table to determine how much “better” they were, and found they had improved in no less than fourteen categories. Yes, I had found my longsword +2 – with added fire damage!!

So as I was saying my prayers at the end of the night and getting excited about the new laptop – friends who know me well understand the spiritual connection I have to computers, which are, for me, a mystical window into the worlds of the mind – it occurred to me that in every game I’ve ever played there has always been a longsword +4, and a +5, and so on until you find a weapon named “Demonslayer” or some such, with abilities so amazing it makes it hard to sleep at night.

It was at this moment I realized: we are always heading toward something better. I don’t mean “better” in the sense that what we have is no good; a longsword +1 in the hands of a level 3 fighter is a fine thing, and it’s worthy of much appreciation the first day you find. But as a character progresses in ability, he will need better equipment – and lo and behold that equipment is always there to be found. There may be challenges and difficulties along the path, but after every mountain is another valley full of new goods and magic items.

This realization tempered my excitement somewhat – now knowing each new thing is stepping stone, there to be treasured until giving way for something better suited to our future – and it also showed me there is never a cause to worry: what is needed can always be found.

I suppose this is a matter of faith, since my belief in these things is tied to my belief that God is willing to provide them. It both detaches me from seeing each new longsword as the “end all, be all”, and fills me with a sense of excitement at wondering what each new sword will look like – whether I find it in this world or the next. It gave me a distinct feeling that things will never cease becoming more wonderful.