It’s a Faire question, and in fact there are many reasons, but I will share two that are purely practical and one that is both narrative and transcendent.
First, it takes a large group of people working in shifts 24 hours every day to keep the doors open to the public in a responsible way. We have to protect the brand integrity of the American Cancer Society, of Relay For Life, and of the Faire itself. And that means that we have to be there to make sure that griefers and trolls don’t have the time or space to be abusive to people – many of whom have had more than enough abuse as a result of cancer or any number of equally horrible things.
And those people take a month or more out of their lives each year to do that job. They do it with such a level of professionalism and dedication that you would think they were drawing a paycheck for doing it which they are not. They are all volunteers. They disregard their own personal needs, their jobs, their families, their pets, and all too often their own physical well-being. They do that because this cause, this event, and this community mean that much to them. We ask a lot of all of you. And you do more than we have any right to ask. I would never want to stand at the finish line just as you are about to cross the line in victory and ask you to do more. That would be to disrespect what you have already done.
Second – and this is the one and only time where I would actually be perfectly content to simply say that it is thus because Elizabeth and I say it is thus – there are 150 other Relay For Life teams in Second Life. None of them are as large as the Faire or raise as much money as the Faire raises, but that does not in any way diminish the good that they come to Second Life to do. They work their butts off too, and every Linden Dollar they raise is vital to this cause. But because the Faire is so large and gets so much attention, so much ink, so much generous support, it is almost impossible for them to hold their own events when the Faire is running. Many of them wait until after the Faire closes to begin to push their own events. We have to exit the stage, so they have the chance to play their part.
Third….third is something that is not easy for me to put into words. Happily, the Faire is made up of many articulate, wise souls. And one of the wisest, the more eloquent of them is Sonya Marmurek. And she wrote something recently that took my breath away. She wrote:
“The Faire needs to end when we’re all still in love with it, when it still hurts to say goodbye. That’s the magic – the letting go, and the joy of waiting for it to come again.”
That is so beautiful that it makes my heart ache and leap at the same time. That is so perfect that if I sat for years staring at a blank sheet of paper, I could never have said it better. Sonya is as right as I have ever known anyone to be about anything.
The Fairelands have to fade because that’s what happens to those we love. I wish it were not so, but life has a beginning and an end. Stories have a beginning and an end. Beginnings are important, but endings are too. They give us the time to contemplate what a story, what a life, actually meant. And in this cause especially, to deny that truth would be at best intellectually dishonest. I would like to believe that I will depart this world before such a time ever came that my passing didn’t break someone’s heart.
The Fairelands have to fade, because until they do, we can never process what this time has meant, what was precious about it. That’s where the magic that the Faire is made of comes from. We know that from the opening day, the days are numbered. And in that brief, astonishing time, we revel in their life. And in their passing, we touch upon a grief that is – counter-intuitively – uplifting.
In the Fairelands, cancer is known as the Unweaver. But there is another metaphor we talk about – the Mysts. And though the Fairelands fade into those Mysts at the end of these brief days, the Mysts are not a metaphor for cancer. In fact, it could not be less a metaphor for anything destructive. It’s the source, the genesis. The only reason we get to celebrate the return of the Fairelands each year is that we allow them to fade back into the Mysts at the end of the previous one.
The time for that letting go has almost come again once more. Make the most of these precious hours that remain. Allow yourself to fall in love with every one of these Fairelands. I know that means that you will feel – as I do – a sadness when they fade. It’s ok. You’re not alone in feeling that sadness. No one is alone here. Ever.
Regions fade. Stories end. Lives pass. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.