Occasionally, this daily blog is not published daily. As was the case this past weekend, I devote my energies to other things. I take a respite. Maya Angelou once said that “Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.” Is that really possible?
This past weekend I took part, as a volunteer convention associate/helper, in the Rocket City Nerd Con 2016. Like many such conventions throughout that are billed as Comic Con [insert name of town here], Dragon Con, etc., #RCNC2016 celebrated all things geeky, nerdy, sci fi, comic bookish, fantasy, etc.
The event had relatively high ticket sales for the area and most in attendance seemed to delight in the panel discussions, author round tables, vendor wares, and costume contests as well as sing-a-longs, and even kids’ crafts. It was the one place where, for the weekend, whatever you were wearing was absolutely weird and appropriate.
This two day respite vacation I gave myself did not fit with Maya Angelou’s description, however, of respite. For multiple hours each day, I answered questions, resolved people’s problems, and searched for those solutions I did not already know. IN other words, I confronted problems; that was, in fact, my whole purpose as a volunteer helper.
In discussing the stress and anxiety everyday living can bring, Alain De Botton proposes the following. “Life seems to be a process of replacing one anxiety with another and substituting one desire for another – which is not to say that we should never strive to overcome any of our anxieties or fulfill any of our desires, but rather to suggest that we should perhaps build into our strivings an awareness of the way our goals promise us a respite and a resolution that they cannot, by definition, deliver.”
My goal in helping with the #RCNC2016 was not to escape my everyday life but to take a respite. I did not avoid problems but I faced different ones and in doing so, I found new perspectives with which to approach my own issues. I watched a small child attempt to eat a cookie through ma mask. Reluctant to lose his Costume persona, this child strongly rejected his parent’s advice to push the mask up so he could eat. Finally, an older sibling reminded the child that he would still be Spiderman if he took his mask off and that sometimes Spiderman was Peter Parker. The toddler joyfully pushed up his mask and then ate his cookie.
How often do we refuse to remove the mask we present to others? How often do we think helping someone less fortunate than us might lower our own value or if we donated money to a good cause instead of spending it on a fancy dress, we might be seen in last year’s fashion? How often are we reluctant to step outside of our comfort zone to do a good deed?
Sometimes we need to take a respite just to appreciate what we have. One of the volunteers I worked with this weekend was a retired individual who normally spends time at home reading and watching television. This volunteer said they had offered to help to relieve the “boredom of my life.” After two days of standing and helping register the masses, they said they were going to appreciate that boredom this week with happiness as they recovered from their happy exhaustion.
We all get bogged down and maybe even bored with our everyday routines. When we take the challenge to help another we often step outside of our own comfort zone. Such a change, a respite if you will, can serve to remind us just how lucky we are. When we take off the mask we feel we must wear to our contemporaries, we often discover who we really are and how much we have to offer.