STROLLING THROUGH OTHER PEOPLE’S DREAMS

One thing I’ve realized as I creep closer to my mid-fifties is that growing up is a myth. Adulthood implies an end game – a place where we’ve learned everything we need to know in order to thrive in this world. Yet the older I get the more I’m confronted with the fact that I will never have any answers. The present consists of a myriad of confusing choices with a potential domino effect of consequences. The future is unknowable – a sea of X’s I don’t have enough information to solve for. I’m left floundering every time a new twist in the equation trips me up.

Sometimes I want to run away. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy Dragon Con so much. Who doesn’t want to live in a world where dinosaurs and astronauts walk hand-in-hand down the street, where fairies shower you with glitter and cartoon characters wait behind you in the coffee line? I want to choose between panels and parties not assisted living facilities for my mom. I want to play.

It’s funny though. Every time I go to a con I end up spending a lot of time in self reflection. Immersing myself in the lives of fictional characters turns out to be surprisingly enlightening. There’s something about exploring alternate realities that leads to a clearer understanding of my own place in the universe. Exposure to other points of view doesn’t solve my problems but it opens my mind to possibilities I may not have otherwise considered.

As an inveterate introvert
it’s worth braving the crowds
to experience the joy.

 

Dragon Con is creativity in its rawest, purest form. It’s home-grown, self-made, a mixture of professional and amateur that renders those distinctions meaningless. This is a place you might find in a Mary Poppins chalk drawing yet it springs to life in a dusty corner of downtown Atlanta. Dragon Con is the subconscious turned inside out and made manifest on the streets of a busy city and its a heady and eye-opening experience to stroll through other people’s dreams.

It’s easy to dismiss Dragon Con as pure escapism, and yet I’m unable to do so. For me a convention is about making things and enjoying what other people have made. It’s about building up not tearing down. It’s play but there’s a lot to learn from life on the playground. It’s not perfect. Every time people gather there are issues of anger, resentment and harassment. Yet I would describe the overall vibe as chaotic good. As an inveterate introvert it’s worth braving the crowds to experience the joy.

Anything that understands and celebrates the importance of story is a beacon of hope in a maddening world. Myths and tales, no matter what media they are represented in, are how we explore, how we learn to empathize, how we grow. Building other worlds, and immersing ourselves in them for a time, is how we come to understand our own. I go to cons to step outside of myself and look back. It’s invariably freeing.

I’m looking forward to the con for many reasons, but ultimately it comes down to this. It’s too easy to get trapped in the dark spaces of my life and stumble around feeling lost and alone. Plunging into the invigorating, eye-opening, endlessly creative chaos that is Dragon Con does not guarantee a way out but it might help me find a way through. In a world that seeks to define and constrict and hide and control, Dragon Con is freedom. That’s a very valuable thing indeed.