The Great Escape

A lot of people got some closure last night, but not all in the same way.  For the tens of thousands gathered around Lake Eola, their release was standing vigil, remembering, promising.  It was a stirring sight, an emphatic period on the long sad sentence that the last week has been.

Me?  My release was watching Jon Snow pound the ever-loving crap out of Ramsay Bolton.

Now that might sound trivial, even disrespectful.  But I’ll be honest:  if I hadn’t had my screens last week, I probably would have gone out of my mind.

It started last Sunday, when I finally couldn’t watch a minute more of CNN, despite the awful pull the coverage exerted.  There’s a sort of communal feel to overdosing on the news when something like this happens, the sense that you’re not along, the comforting familiarity of the network news process.  But eventually enough was enough.  I didn’t feel much for playing games like I was originally supposed to, but I had to get out, had to get around people.  Partly to not be afraid, but mostly to just see some people who weren’t sad or scared or confused.

And so I ended up seeing Warcraft.  I didn’t expect artistry.  I honestly didn’t expect it to be very good.  But I did expect it to be big and loud and over the top and as removed from the real world as it could possibly be for a few hours.  I’d had enough of reality.  I wanted as much fantasy as I could get.  And on that level, it delivered.  There was heroism and nobility and monsters and magic.  There was even a murloc.  I emerged to a world still grappling with the horror of that early morning, but it was good to have gotten away from it for a little while.  Later that night I settled in for Game of Thrones, and while at times it felt a little odd to be enjoying a show known for its violence on that day of all days, there was comfort in the regular Sunday routine.

Thursday was the warm hug that was Steve Spielberg’s The BFG, and then Saturday saw a welcome return of some old friends in Finding Dory.  Seeing Finding Nemo on opening day with a theater full of daycare kids is still one of my favorite movie-going experiences ever, so I was more than ready to greet these characters again.  I needed the hope, the brightness, the emotion that Pixar knows how to create, and this delivered it in style.  Yes, there were some sad moments, but in the end, there was togetherness and happiness.  And if that wasn’t something to embrace after the previous six days, I don’t know what was.

And finally came the cathartic shout that was last night’s Game of Thrones.  It was not without loss, but on two fronts there was good asserting itself over evil, one instance of which we have been craving for the better part of three seasons.  It was brutal and unrelenting and in the end even the victory had some darkness to it, but that can be just as transporting as sweetness and light.

The thing that unites all of those experiences is that when I needed them, they were there.  They all took me to different emotional places, and for different reasons.  But all of them were shining examples of the redemptive power of storytelling.  Creativity offered release, escape, distraction, inspiration.  In a week when we were reminded of the worst humanity could do, what better salve than to watch the results of people working together with their talents?  For no other reason than to entertain?  How lucky are we to have that at our disposal?

How dark a week it would have been without those lighted screens.


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