Each one of us is a unique being of alternate realities. It is part of what creates chasms between some people, while between others it creates bonds. In today’s world we can physically travel to alternate realities for a space of time.
My daughter Kate introduced me to the alternate reality of Supernatural many years ago. This year we split the cost of a trip to Dallas, Texas to attend a three-day Supernatural Convention together. For those who don’t know, Supernatural is a television show that takes place where all the creatures of myth and legend of our world are real. Brothers Sam and Dean Winchester hunt and kill monsters to keep people safe.
To be among the fans was one of the best thing about the convention, though “fan” is entirely the wrong word for the people who watch Supernatural and are devoted to it. In the language of the show: “Family don’t end in blood.” It is a familydom. Unlike this reality, the Supernatural family embraces and celebrates the things that make us different. For three days we laughed and we celebrated together. We helped each other. There wasn’t any “us verses them,” it was all us.
Then there were the panels. People got to ask the stars of the show questions which ranged the gamut from: “Where do you buy your shirts?” to “What are your thoughts on having children in today’s troubled world?” I expected to be entertained. I didn’t expect to be moved.
The first panel I attended was with Briana Buckmaster (Sheriff Donna Hanscom.) Briana told stories from the show, encouraged people to be true to themselves, and gave advice from the heart. One piece of advice I’ll pass on: if you ever have a photo opportunity with Jensen Ackles, sniff him. And tell him that Briana Buckmaster told you to do it! (We didn’t have the opportunity this convention, but I put sniffing Jensen Ackles on my bucket list!)
I had been looking forward to the panel with Rachel Minor. She played one incarnation of the demon Meg. When she came out onto the stage in a motorized wheelchair, I looked at my daughter, confused. What had happened to Rachel? Kate did a google search. Rachel has been diagnosed with MS. Question after question she dispensed answers thoughtfully with spirit and wisdom. A woman in the question line showed up just to thank her for the words of encouragement that Rachel had given her earlier, about handling a diagnosis she had been given. That’s when I finally made made the connection between real life and the fictional Supernatural.
We all fight monsters in our unique alternate realities. No one can fight for us, but we can learn and be encouraged by others. All it takes is honest sharing.
I could have listened to Rachel all day. When her hour was up I thought I had taken in all the wisdom I could for one day. I settled back to enjoy a “lighter” panel with Samantha Smith and Courtney Ford (Mary Winchester and Kelly Kline…billed as “Jack’s two mom’s”—foster mother and birth mother, respectively.) It started out funny. Kelly apologized to Sam for what Jack did to Mary on the show. Sam and Kelly fielded great questions. Then Kelly got a deep question and had a verbal debate with herself about how real she should get with the audience. Sam assured her the Supernatural family could handle real. So Kelly did. She talked about making this world a better place by ending damage passed down from generation to generation via therapy. She encouraged us to be the best version of ourselves, even though it’s the hardest thing any of us will ever do, so that we can leave the generations that come after us healthier.
All the sessions were fantastic, but it wouldn’t be fair to end this blog without mentioning the panels of Jared Padelecki, Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins. (Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester, and Castiel) Jared and Jenson, the two stars of the show, had two panels that we were able to attend. Misha Collins had one question/answer session. Definite highlights of the trip, the actors shared things about their lives and the show. Misha was alternately funny and wise. Jared and Jensen were funny. I laughed until it hurt at their panels.
Who knew that being deposited into a completely different world would be restorative? I didn’t suspect it. I expected to have a great time. It turned out that there were a few hiccups in the way of “great time,” but even better than a great time, I had a profound time. It has been decades since I’ve had a “summer vacation.” It may have been three short days at a convention, but it unwrapped into a summer vacation experience like none I’ve experienced since my childhood. I’m ready, rested, and inspired to fight my own monsters, and to carry on with my responsibilities both in this world, and the alternate one in my head.