How strange it is that the most peaceful moment I have had in the last week was last night in a video game. For those of you unfamiliar with World of Warcraft, part of the game play is gaining “Achievements.” This entails various actions – finding things, doing things, killing things – actions which generally bring you deeper within the story. There is an achievement in Pandaria called “Wanderers, Dreamers, and You” which you attain when you attend the Wanderer’s Festival which takes place on Turtle Beach on Sunday night. The event lasts twenty minutes (and is repeated a couple of hours later).

Normally I am in bed and asleep by the time it takes place, 9:00 p.m. Pacific time, which is 11:00 p.m. my time. However, in order to get the achievement I decided to get up and rejoin the game at that time. Arriving a few minutes early, I stood there with other players waiting for the event to begin. When I say “I,” I mean my character in the game, but you cannot play the game for as many hours as I have without your character becoming part of you, and you part of it. This is especially true on this particular game server, which operates in “Role Playing” mode, where you are supposed to remain in character as you interact with other players.

As we stood there, with the sun going down, other game characters (those programmed into the game – not other players) started to wander onto the beach. They lit bonfires, danced, drank, and shot off a few fireworks. Some placed floating lanterns on the water. Lorewalker Shuchun asked Lorewalker Cho to sing the song of Liu Lang, which he did, a somber and peaceful tune. I wandered around the beach for a bit, drank a bit of Chen Stormstout’s brew, and went to the edge of the beach and sat down. Another player came and sat next to me and we had a brief and pleasant conversation.

Towards the end my companion said good bye and left for home. I stayed until the event ended, when Lorewalker Shuchun says, “Thank you for coming, everyone! Into every generation are born the dreamers – dreamers like Liu Lang. What’s your dream? Don’t let anyone take it away. Hold it in your heart, and make it happen. Dreamers change the world. Red Crane bless you all. Goodnight!” All the characters walked off the beach, heading for home.

Silly, I know, but I was touched. Touched by a stupid video game with pre-programmed actions and cartoon characters, but still, I almost felt as though I was there on that beach in person. Perhaps it is because I needed to be.

It has been a week of emotional turmoil. The world is mad with people who wish to destroy other people and take what is not rightfully theirs, be it a life or a living. Health issues are becoming the norm rather than the exception. Life is short, and getting shorter. There never seems to be enough money or resources for oneself and one’s loved ones. The work one has done for decades is as stale as yesterday’s doughnuts. It gets harder and harder to find a reason, or the courage, to face each new day.

A moment of peace, even found in a video game, is worth more than gold.