Updated: Jul 30
This post will be an abbreviated version of my ongoing investigation and observation of ‘reality’. I realize that the topic can unfold into many paths (perception versus what is actually happening, etc.), so therefor I am going to share a few thoughts on the matter. I will likely revisit this topic in the near future.
I went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival yesterday with Andy and our friends Livia and Walter. Thankfully Livia and Walter live very close to the festival, so we met them at their house before carpooling over. Our plan was to leave early in the day so that we wouldn’t get stuck in traffic. This was the final open weekend for the season.
We arrived at the festival around 10:30, only a half hour after the doors opened. I’ve gone to the Renaissance Festival for the past 3 years (plus a few times when I was little), and it still excites me every time I go through the entrance.
If you have ever been to a Renaissance Festival, the best way to describe it is other-worldly… like a jump back in time. There are attendees who dress in modern clothing (including ourselves), but some people really play up the whole experience by dressing in elaborate outfits from the time period. I love to people-watch, and needless to say, the Ren Fest is the perfect place for it. From the outfits, to the old-English phrases and accents, some people really play the part. It’s inspiring to see the place come to life with all of the different activities and performances. I love how the arts are showcased through theater, music, and handcrafted items.
During one of the performances, Livia and I marveled at the actors’ ability to become not only people from the Renaissance period, but also characters within their specific storyline for the play. We wondered what those people did during the off-season. Were they businesspeople who worked for corporations and wore suits and ties? Did they do some type of work very far removed from acting, and perhaps this was their chance to live a different life? We got into a conversation about how many actors are constantly becoming other people for their various roles, so how and when do they get an opportunity to learn about themselves? Like, their real selves? I’m sure some actors become so engrossed in their characters that they begin to believe that that is who they truly are.
Festival life is its own [temporary] world. Reality for the time being. I enjoy attending music festivals for reasons similar to why I enjoy the Renaissance Festival. Music/arts festivals provide the opportunity for freedom in reinventing and/or exploring different aspects of ourselves. It’s not to say that this cannot be done on any given day, but in a festival setting there tend to be fewer constructs for the expectation on how to dress and act. This brings me to another point, when should other people determine the expectation for how to dress and act? I mean, I get it. (Kind of.) Different professions call for certain dress codes, and that will in turn determine how we are perceived. Is perception reality? No. If we are wearing something nice, does that mean that we are professional? No. If we are not wearing something ‘professional’, does that mean we should be discredited? It’s just an interesting construct of society that I still find to be a little confusing. As an educator, I am aware that students’ home lives may be quite different than school life. The expectations we place on students at school may not apply at home. So how do we expect kids to A) differentiate between the two, and B) behave in such a way that is conducive to what we have put in place, but may not apply in other parts of their lives?
It seems that my train of thought has taken off in several directions already. I’ll end with the show Westworld, a new series that Andy and I have started watching. The concept is fascinating and really plays on the idea of what is real and what is not. The premise for the show is a theme park called Westworld, where the ‘hosts’ are characters created by developers, who look and act like real human beings. The park takes place in the Old West. Hosts have story lines and scripts, and they are there for the purpose of entertaining the ‘guests’. The guests are wealthy individuals who pay to dress as someone from the time period, and they can interact with whomever they want. They are given the opportunity to act however they please, and its essentially a vacation for them. Westworld is a good example of blending the real world with an alternate world.
There is much more to think about. Here are some questions to consider: How do you create or shape your reality? How can perception impact your outlook?