"You always feel like you are in the wrong place at Davos,
like there is some better meeting going on somewhere
in one of the hotels that you really ought to be at.
Like the real Davos is happening in secret somewhere."
- Steve Case, founder of AOL
I read this quote late last night and haven't really been able to stop thinking about it since. If you've ever been to a conference -- whether for work or school or fandom -- you've probably had this moment too. There's a glass in your hand, you're making small talk, maybe you're with your friends. Anyway, you're having a decent time, but the person you're talking to -- you're not looking them in the eye. Nope, you're looking over their shoulder just in case someone really cool/important/hot/prestigious walks into the room.
Look, I get this. I really do. Because I'm totally susceptible to it too. Over and over again.
But I want to tell you a secret.
You are not missing the cool party.
The cool party does not exist.
I know you think I'm just saying that to make myself feel better or because I'm an idiot, but trust me, despite the lamentations linked to above I've also been at the cool party; I know the important people, I've been in the right place at the right time, and I've been told I'm special. And it's not any different than the party you're supposedly at instead.
It's really not.
Someone's making out with someone they don't know how to talk to. Someone is wondering if another drink will make them less bored. Someone is wondering why this person who is supposed to be their new best friend is such an asshole. Someone is wondering if they go home now, will they miss all the good stuff.
The secret about conventions and the cool party, the fabulous happenstance, or the movie magic moment is this: you bring it.
You take the moment you're given and you make it matter.
You look around at the people you're sitting with and you smile so wide it hurts your face and you let yourself feel like that line in Stand By Me as if these people are the best friends you will ever have, like the sort you had when you were twelve -- when life was scary and new and horrifying and malleable.
And if you can't find that moment in the party you're at? Well, go to a different one. But don't do it looking for the celebrity or the hottie to make out with or the deal. Don't do it to be chosen. Don't do it to be discovered. Don't do it looking for the gossip or the opportunity just to say Oh my god, and then he... and then she... and I WAS THERE.
Because, no matter how much you think you do, you don't actually care about that party.
You care about the party where you feel like magic, where you make the magic.
Chasing down societally approved versions of magic and wondering why it doesn't feel more awesome isn't going to bring the win.
Look, sometimes you're there. And sometimes you're not (seriously, let me tell you about the year I flipped a coin on a New Year's party decision and went to the one at which Ian McKellan and his 26-year-old boyfriend were not in attendance). Sometimes it's awesome and sometimes it's not. But you can't hunt the fabulous life. You can only make it right here and right now.
Shuck the jealousy, temper the envy, and shift your gaze a few inches back the other way and look at that person you're actually talking to right now. Laugh with that glass in your hand and lean forward and tell the best story ever.
This message brought to you by hey, I'm a guest at Dragon*Con 2010 wherein something totally absurd and awesome and surreal will probably happen to someone else while I'm nowhere goddamn near it.
And you know what?