Is Being Anything But Good…Bad?

short story

In which I have another existential crisis and possibly a hero complex.

All because of Dungeons and Dragons.

the long story

I’ve played Dungeons and Dragons maybe three times in my life. My character’s name is Dany, a dragonborn paladin who was supposed to have a high level of articulation and failed epically.

The reason I haven’t played beyond three times is that my questing party (is that what you call it?) takes forever to make decisions and we never had time to set a day aside to run a full campaign. And even if we did get a day together, we wouldn’t be able to finish.

You know, because we can’t decide on anything.

What I only learned recently about D&D are the character alignments: a three by three grid describing the ethics and morals of a given character. The axes are lawful/neutral/chaotic by good/neutral/evil. You’ve probably seen a tumblr post of it:


As a joke, I took an online quiz to see what my personal character alignment was, and I got true neutral. The definition of which is as follows:

A neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. She doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil-after all, she would rather have good neighbours and rulers than evil ones. Still, she’s not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way.

Likened to anyone from Serverus Snape to Sherlock to Tyrion Lannister, I sort agree with this description of my personal motivations.

Like anything else in this world, this comes with pros and cons. Pros: true neutrals follow instinct and are less likely to be thrown off by bias. Cons: true neutrals can be seen as apathetic and indifferent.

And I know that everything is a continuum. That character alignments and Meyers-Briggs Inventories and the four Humours are ways for us to draw lines where lines typically cannot be drawn.

But I’ve been struggling with this idea of what I want to do in this world with the time that I have.

Lately, all I’ve been feeling is apathy. I go to work and go through the motions of doing my job without any of the passion I usually have. I go home and I do my chores and I sit at my computer and try to write something that I’m proud of. And in between, I’m on the bus listening to music and trying to read books that remind me why I love storytelling.

And you know what that all amounts to? A big fat nothing. I feel nothing. I’m uninspired. I can’t finish a single book. And I don’t even know if I’m sad about it. I might just be indifferent.

I got an email today announcing the co-op student of the year: a young woman who is working hard at a children’s hospital, passionate about her work and doing it well. Not to mention that she coaches ice skating and does outreach programs in Kenya.

And…what am I doing?

I don’t feel like a horrible person for not doing all those things. I know a part of me would love a quiet little life where I am happy and comfortable and healthy.

But a part of me thinks that only thinking as far as myself is selfish. That part of me thinks I’m not trying hard enough. That part of me keeps asking, “What do you want?” and “How are you going to make the world better?”

And I know that the bottom line is that I want to be happy. But how do I figure that out? Will I be happy if only I am happy? Or will I be happy knowing I have done something for the better of someone else?

Because if I were to answer the question, “Am I happy?” right now, the answer wouldn’t be no.

But I don’t think it would be yes either.


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