This weekend for me was spent in a place called Rotorua one of New Zealands "Adventure" city's for a friends Bachelor party.
Along with copious amounts of alcohol and dressing up the stag in some very skimpy lingerie we went Sledging
After riding down that river on the little plastic Sledge I occurred to me how similar being in a guild and even raiding are to the act of Sledging.
Like anything in WoW Sledging follows a set path, moving from where you are to where you want to be.
Along the way you will hit some rocks, sometimes you get caught in eddy's that will slow you down and turn you around, you might even get thrashed and pushed under. Despite all that you can encounter you keep pushing forward and as long as you stick to your path, learning from your mistakes you will make it to where you want to go eventually.
Its important when on the river to not only know where to go but to have a strong competent person to lead you there, preferably someone who has been there before.
If you choose the right person to follow they can keep you down the middle and guide you away from the obstacles ahead. If your the person out front then you lead through common sense and what experience you have gained from before.
Sometime you find yourself following the wrong person or people. These people can take you off the safest path and lead you astray. They might be doing it by no fault of their own, maybe they lack the experience to lead or the common sense to point themselves in the right path. Some may take you off cause on purpose, guiding you away for their own strange reasons. If you follow the wrong person to long you can get stuck, pinned against a wall, caught in the turning water or pushed beneath the surface.
However you end up off cause you have to always remember that you may be set back but you are still on the river, your path still lies down stream you just have to work to get back on it.
Once back on cause you push forward, ether finding a new leader who knows the way or taking the lead yourself and picking your path from your smarts and the mistakes of the previous.
As with WoW, Sledging and any other activity you have to know your basics before you can proceed further. You begin by learning the basics, you sit in a safe place and practice the fundamentals. When your ready to move on you step out and encounter your first trials, small at first but growing as you progress.
You learn how to ride the river to move down stream, how to pick your path safely and how to pick yourself up should for fall. Some of these can be taught early but none truly learned until you are out there doing it and using those skills.
Over time these skills become second nature, the paths are clearer and you can dodge the rocks. You might hit a wall still, but every time you do you pick yourself up faster and get back into the river with greater ease.
Eventually your hard work pays off, you find yourself at your goal be it level 85, clearing raid content, making strong lasting friendships with decent people or simply getting to the bottom of the river.
As you sit at the the bottom and look back up at what you have over come you realize just how insignificant those waves in your path were. You slid right over those rock, pushed off those walls and resurfaced from those times spent under. The obstacles behind you while very real at the time were nothing in retrospect, the dramas of the water are behind you, you have learned from those mistakes and the leaders that you left behind are still stuck in their old path coughing up water.
You have made it to the bottom.