This past weekend, I volunteered at a medieval faire, with two friends who’re in our Dungeons & Dragons group, and my sister who tagged along for the day. We were working the games, which meant that we had to operate big medieval weaponry for small medieval children.
We had to work outside the entire time (save for the few precious moments when I could cower with my friends and sister beneath our tent), and with all of the gusting wind and pouring rain and slippery mud, it was the sort of working condition that would ordinarily make me miserable. But I had no complaints that day, not even as I shivered. Because I was there, at the faire, and that was enough to make me infallibly happy.
I mean, how often do you get to see three university guys dressed full-out in cardboard and tinfoil suits of armour? Or carry around a giant smoked turkey leg? Or operate a ballista (think giant crossbow) or a battering ram? Or spell fair with an e?
Some of my family–grandparents and cousins–came to the faire and so once my shift was over, we wandered around the faireground and looked at the vendors’ stalls. There were so many beautiful things–intricate jewellery, hand-crafted leather bags and armours, and an absolutely gorgeous leather and suede arrow quiver dyed a pale blue. Believe me, it was hard to hold onto my money. I wanted to buy a lot of things, even things I didn’t have a practical use for. I’m like that though–I can’t help but love all things fantasy-related.
So it was a bit of a deliberation, trying to figure out what I should buy, but I finally picked something that I knew I would use and would mean a lot to me: a leather pouch. I’m going to take it with me whenever I go on forest walks, so that I have a good place to put the little nature bits (my charms and spell components, you see) that I gather along the way. I love it a lot, and have it sitting on the bookshelf next to my bed. I love that I can smell the leather when I’m falling asleep–to me, leather is such a raw smell, one that seems so true to that perfect fantasy I have in my head.
There was one special moment, that day at the faire, in which I felt closest to that perfect fantasy. I was alone for just a few moments and stood in the midst of the milling crowd, surveying the grounds, my eyes drinking in the sight of so many medieval costumes and objects in one place, and my lungs breathing in that leathery, smokey, earthy air. I felt like I could pretend to be a part of it. Like I could pretend that this was a solid reality, and that I was blessed enough to be given the chance to see it. I was indescribably happy…
But there was, deep down inside, just the smallest nugget of sorrow.
I shouldn’t say sorrow. Longing is the better word. I longed for it to be real, for me to really be living in a world full of knights and dragons and magic and swords and leather and all the things I loved about the faire. It’s such a wistful feeling, to realize that it isn’t real, just pretend for one day, and it does make me a bit sad.
But I’ve never resented sadness. I think it can show you just how much you care about something, and personally, it’s been a driving force behind many of the great accomplishments I’ve made in my life. So I let myself feel the longing, the wistfulness, the sadness, and then I bury it deep underneath the happiness of the moment.
I had a fantastic day at the faire, I really did, but I can’t help but wonder if I would be happier if that was reality. If I could live in a world like that, one that actually had knights and magic, would I be happy? Would I be any happier than I am now? I can’t help but think that there might actually be some joy in not being a part of that world. There are so many times that I’ve felt pride because I’ve stood out from the crowd, wearing something medieval or fantasy-themed and expressing my unique interests and passions. There’s some deep joy and satisfaction in obtaining something–even something as small as a leather pouch–that reflects my inner loves.
Basically, I like that it’s a struggle to make myself become a part of that ideal world. I like the fight, the challenge, and the rewards it yields.
So would I trade this life for my idea of the perfect life? I don’t think so. I’ll continue to live my life as an observer, someone trying to enter a world I can’t reach, and maybe I’ll have the chance to help others do the same. Maybe one day I’ll actually get to enter that world, for real, but until then, I really can’t complain about this life.
Although I have now vowed to try live-action role-playing before I die.
What have you vowed to do before you die?
May your perfect world never be too far, and may you find pleasure in all that you do to touch it.