Guilds may come and go, but friendships are forever.

David Bowers
D. Bowers|07.12.07

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Guilds may come and go, but friendships are forever.
Recently, I wrote a piece called "All guilds are is dust in the wind," and our reader Rihlsul has written a "rebuttal" to it, entitled "5 tips for a long lived guild," for which I am surprisingly quite thankful. Personally I don't see it as a rebuttal at all; rather it complements my overall point, which perhaps I did not express as clearly as possible before. Some people heard me flippantly dismissing guilds as pointless and suggesting that we should hop from one to the other selfishly any time we felt the inclination. To the contrary, my post (as well as my reference to mandala art) has to do with unrealistic expectations, and dealing with the sadness that comes along when your guild hopes don't work out.

The majority of my time in World of Warcraft so far has been in two guilds. Both meant a lot to me, and both broke up because we didn't follow Rihlsul's 4th tip, that as a guild you really need to be doing things together, and that means having common goals in the game. In both cases, different members of the guild changed their minds as to what they wanted to do -- which is perfectly natural, since they gained levels, the expansion came out, and new activities opened up. These were small guilds anyway, and they no longer felt like thriving communities. At first, it seemed as if each guild was a failure.

Perhaps Rihlsul would say that each one was a failure, that the guild leaders did something "wrong;" and perhaps from a certain perspective he is right. In two places in his article, he uses the word "marriage" in conjunction with his feelings about good guilds, which suggests to me that he views a guild as a kind of eternal relationship, counts their longevity as a measure of their loyalty, or at least counts such loyalty as their most important quality. This is what he wants from his guild, and I commend him and his guildmates for striving to achieve it. If your guild is a lifelong bonding of friends, like a tightly knit group of friends from childhood, then that's wonderful! Cherish that, and nourish it as long as you can!

But for me and for many others, these groupings of friends have gradually changed over time; some individuals have drifted away to who knows where, and others have gone on doing things with me individually. Yet it is has never been like a broken marriage or a group of childhood friends shattering of their entire relationship. These friends and I may decide to do different things with our time, stop playing such games altogether, or -- heaven forbid -- lose touch completely, but if we have enjoyed our time together as much as possible then we've achieved something very real. Naturally I want my guild to last as long as possible, and I will do everything in my power to follow Rihlsul's five tips, yet in the end we all must acknowledge that things happen in life, people change, and outwardly connections may appear to be lost. There is something that lives on.

The whole beauty of a mandala for me is that even though the sand of which it was made has been brushed away, the beauty of it lasts in your mind. To view our guild, our game, or even the act of gaming itself as a temporary manifestation (like a mandala) of a real and valuable thing (like beauty), and then to cherish the eternal elements within such impermanent things (in our present experience as well as in our memory) -- this grants a great deal of peace in the face of changes. It improves one's expectations and helps identify the really important things. Your guild members may eventually get separated, but in the end you always remain loyal to whatever true connections you shared.
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