I keep meaning to post about the amazing experience I had at the Swannanoa Gathering over the summer.
But I keep not doing it.
What the what, self?
Well (Elaine), I think it’s because the whole intense, glorious week was very much like some of my most fun nights have been. Which is to say, they don’t translate well.
Like this one: I am 17, sitting in an overheated room at a YMCA, having the time of my life with my best friend and a bunch of musicians. We are young and high on being young, and new to town, and everything is hilarious. Two people come up with a rap about Gandhi, and the whole room collapses laughing – doubled over in aching, crying, whooping, snorting hilarity.
I don’t remember everyone who was there, or what all was said that night, or anything about what made the rap hilarious (except the end: g-g-g-g-g-g-GANDHI!).
But MAN it was funny!
That’s SO funny, right?!??
Right? Hello? It… it wasn’t… it wasn’t so funny? But… no, see, it totally was…
Many of my most cherished experiences in life have been like that. You can see how they don’t make for good stories. “People in a room talked and laughed and enjoyed each other’s company!” “We ate dinner for 4 hours and had really engaging conversations!” “Game night! That charade! When he made the hand puppet beaver! HAW!”
These are not good headlines.
And it’s because someone reading about it later has no way to put themselves in your shoes. There was no one famous, no unusual good fortune, no exclusivity involved, no inspiring photos. Nothing that would make a good Facebook status update. (“Went yachting with famous person and met new romantic squeeze while eating amazing home-made thing off coast of super beautiful place! Isn’t my life so great??”)
Those moments of feeling alive and loved and very present, all cares forgotten, all joy foremost; those are experiential, and there’s no transitive property for others. The magic that transpires is created in the space among people, and then evanesces.
There’s very little to document in the first place, but also when life is extremely engaging, you are so in it you don’t document it. You don’t think to document it. You are wholly absorbed in being. No part of you is standing apart, thinking about proving to someone else that you were having some kind of experience. You’re just…there. Having the experience.
So Swannanoa was like that. I took classes, met people, heard music, wrote music, played music, laughed, cried, hugged, danced, overslept, underslept, learned a ton, taught a little… and I have nothing to show for it.
Well. Almost nothing.