Some years ago - I can't remember exactly when, but it was probably at least fifteen years ago, maybe more - I was in an airplane headed in to land in Chicago. The approach path was long and low, and so we spent what seemed like a long time flying over the suburbs on our way in to O'Hare. From that viewpoint, you could see every house, and every yard, and every fence and barbeque - cars in driveways, toys in backyards, that sort of thing. There were hundreds of houses, and from where I was sitting, they all looked basically identical. It made me think about the difference in perspective - if you were in one of those houses, you couldn't really see the houses next door because of the fences, and even the view across the street would only give you a few. And if you decided not to look out the window at all, then you could at least occasionally feel that you and your family were the only people in the world. Certainly, the idea that there are probably hundreds of thousands of homes just in Chicago alone, millions across the country, and billions across the world that are fundamentally similar in their makeup and aspirations - well, it's unthinkable. Not only is it hard to cognitively process, you don't WANT to process it. When you think that there are that many people all striving for the same thing you're striving for - money, success, possibly fame, their piece of the pie, essentially - it's overwhelming. Defeating, really. To function in modern society, we have to buy into a sort of polite fiction which ignores all of that.
So, back to this flight - when I was up in the air with all of these houses spread before me, it became impossible to ignore the truth that there are SO MANY DREAMS in the world - and every single person dreaming those dreams thinks they're achievable, at least on some level. Obviously, they aren't (in full, anyway), whether because of lack of drive, luck, talent or some combination thereof, but it's still amazing to think about. On the plane, my filter from all of those dreams disappeared for a minute or two, and the the experience was almost assaultive. I could just about feel the weight of it, and the idea of trying anything at all seemed just ridiculous. (And yes, I realize that this post is also a bit ridiculous.) The sensation passed, but I've never forgotten it.
Anyway, that's what cons are sort of like these days. Dreams everywhere, and it's overwhelming, inspiring and sad, all at once.
Oh, speaking of cons, see you in Chicago this weekend for C2E2 - table F7!