This weekend is the 2013 edition of Pantheacon in San Jose, California. It’s the largest Pagan convention in the world, with attendance expected to be in the 2000–2500 range.
I’d like to be there. I’d like to hear some of the presentations and participate in some of the rituals. I’d like to see some of the entertainment. I’d like to meet some of the authors and teachers whose work has been influential in my own spiritual growth.
Mainly I’d like to meet a lot of people I know only through their on-line presence. I’d like to see their faces, hear their voices, give them a handshake or a hug and discuss the finer points of Paganism over a glass of wine or a cup of tea.
I won’t be at Pantheacon.
I can’t blame my absence on anyone or anything but me. I looked at the total situation and came to the rational decision that I’d be better off skipping Pantheacon. It was the right call.
That doesn’t mean I don’t feel a twinge of regret when I see all the Facebook posts with pictures of luggage and details of travel arrangements. And it doesn’t mean I don’t have a flashback to high school when I was home on a Saturday night and I just knew the cool kids were out having fun somewhere.
For me, not going to Pantheacon is a question of limits. We in the Pagan and magical communities don’t like to talk about limits. Limits are for other people and other religions. I really need to give limits a longer exploration some time, but for now let me just say there are three kinds of limits.
There are hard limits that represent reality: the law of gravity, the number of hours in a day, the amount of oil in the ground.
There are soft limits that represent the reality that some things which are possible individually are impossible together. As an old boss used to say about project budgets and timelines: “good, fast and cheap – pick any two.”
And then there are self-imposed limits, the things we don’t try because we don’t think we can do them even though we very likely can.
For me, the cost of Pantheacon is a soft limit. I only have so much money to spend on travel and there are at least three other Pagan gatherings I want to attend this year. Two of them will require air travel. I need to make occasional trips to Tennessee to visit family. And at some point, Cathy and I want to go away for a nice vacation. I can do some of these trips. I can probably do most of these trips. I can’t do all of these trips. There are limits and something has to give.
I have a self-imposed limit with crowds. I don’t want to criticize an event I’ve never attended, and the only serious complaint I’ve heard from Pantheacon attendees is that there’s not room for everyone in the main hotel. I’ve stayed in overflow hotels for other events and I have no mobility issues. I’m sure there will be long lines for some things and pressing crowds for others, but I’m not a six-year-old – I’ve learned how to deal with these things.
But I would be lying if I said this had no impact on my decision to spend my limited travel dollars elsewhere.
So I’ll be home this weekend, trying to finish reading one brand new book and make a dent in reading an ancient one. I’ll be checking Facebook, enjoying the pictures and comments from those who are there. In the coming weeks I’ll be looking for podcasts, transcripts, commentary, and other reports of the event. I’ll look forward to the Pagan gatherings I will attend and the face to face meetings I’ll be able to have.
I made the right decision. I’m good with it, even if I am a bit envious of those who are there. I hope everyone at Pantheacon has a great time and goes home happy and energized.
Maybe 2014 will be my year.