If you look closely, you can see the fear in my eyes. But we’ve jumped ahead: let’s start at the beginning.
As a teenager, the Gothic subculture was very dear to me – partially because of its morbid preoccupations, and partially because I shared its love for the aesthetics of older times – the artwork, the fashion, the books.
During this time of my life, I learned of renaissance festivals in America and decided that someday I would go. I imagined myself waltzing in, in one of the many corsets I owned back then, with my red and black hair flowing loosely, while I held up my skirts and picked my way through the crowds.
But when I finally made it to the Renaissance Festival a whopping ten years later, the summer would permit me no such fantasies. Nevertheless, far more committed fans than I did dress up in full-costume, and assumed their roles.
The Orc of Mordor
While we explored the festival from dangerous stuntmen to a hypnotic show, out of the many creatures in sight, an orc caught my eye.
As a huge Tolkien fan – or maybe more so, Peter Jackson – I was immediately drawn to all the elaborate details that covered him from head to toe. Some of it he invented on his own, but overall, the sum was no less scary than how Jackson had portrayed the filthy creatures from Mordor in his films.
Michael noticed me eyeing the terrifying beast and urged me to take a picture with him. Determined to get a picture with my worst nightmare, he took it upon himself to make the request. Thankfully, the orc had better manners than most, and gladly obliged.
My heart skipped a beat – maybe ten. Because, you see, that smile on my face was not from happiness, but pure fear.
No matter how much I tried to remind myself it was all make-believe, his overall presence was just overwhelmingly intimidating, and he knew it! In fact, though the pictures can’t tell the tale, he spent the entire time growling in my ear – a low rumble that reverberated from his chest to my eardrums.
I was terrified, but ultimately drawn to him, and so I laughed and posed anyway. I was glad to have met him, and knew this was a moment that would go down in Middle Earth history somewhere.
Unfortunately, this personification of “evil” as orcs and trolls and other well-known villains, subconsciously trains us to believe that “evil” is always this obvious. But the truth is, the worst things in life often come dressed in some of the best packages.
Thus, they catch us unawares when we begin to dig through the wrapper and the box to discover that we have been deceived. The gift inside is not at all what we wanted, and sometimes not at all what we need.
We learn in despair, that we have possibly been fraternising with the enemy despite all our best intentions to do otherwise.
Looking back at the “purchase”, we often begin to see all the warning signs we had ignored before. After all, as they say, hindsight is 20/20.
But why is that we allow ourselves to be so easily deceived, when the truth was right there all along?
My guess is this:
In spite all the wrongs in the world, most of us still hang on to a thread of hope and optimism that the good will win out when our own intentions are pure.
Sadly, the universe doesn’t quite work that way, and in the end, we must guard ourselves. This doesn’t mean hoisting up huge fortresses to keep people and opportunities out, but it does mean being aware of the fact that the “bad things” are usually the sweetest, the most exciting, and the most charming.
All the best for the week ahead, and remember that “evil” very rarely walks into your life looking like an orc at a renaissance festival…