I hope that, as I lay dying and my life is flashing before my eyes, at least some part of this weekend will make it in the reel.
I had that epiphany I’ve been after, and I touched Rivers Cuomo. (Twice!) The two might be related.
If you’ve ever read this blog before, you’ve probably been exposed to my constant struggle with discerning my vocation. My writings in this space have been instrumental to help me figure things out, to make sense of the jumble of my life and find some sort of meaning and purpose in all of the odds and ends. I’ve been obsessed. Every day, I woke up and went about my life in search of answers, so much so that I usually neglected other areas of my life that didn’t seem to have any clues.
Last Thursday’s entry–What I Want and How To “Get” It–was the product of more than a year’s struggle. All the pieces are beginning to coalesce and merge and make some sort of sense, and that entry was the first time I’ve felt like I’ve had a real answer in a long, long time.
A short recap: humility. Accepting the lot that life gives me without wishing that it were different, and most importantly, learning to trust and to have faith, to be open to life’s experiences not for what I can get out of them but for what they are–my life, the only life I’ll ever have, the life that only I am destined to live. It sounds simple, but really living it is a mystery, and a joy.
Maybe I should just explain it. Please excuse all the run on sentences.
I’ve been nervous for this weekend. Excited, yes, but also nervous, considering how disappointed I’ve been after the last two Weezer shows I attended, when circumstances conspired to bring me some considerable disappointments that clouded my enjoyment and left me dejected and full of self pity. Add to the equation my moderate social anxiety, the fever and swollen lymph nodes I’d had a few days before the trip (but managed to kick just in time by following a strict regimen of going to bed very early every night and willing myself to get better), and the apprehension I was experiencing about our other activities–for instance, we were going to sleep in tents outdoors, which I’ve only ever done once before–and it was a recipe for stress.
I was determined that this time would be different. I’d been looking after myself all of my life, and it had never ended well. It was time to put my faith into action–to trust that the weekend was going to turn out all right, or to stress about it so much that all the joy was sucked out of the experience. I made the decision to be joyful, to graciously accept my circumstances and to trust God. I was nervous about it–what a weekend to test my brand new theories on humility and peace and joy–but like I said, determined. I wanted to know what it was like to “get out of my head.”
Friday morning dawned and four of us were off.
We got to the beach in the late afternoon. I was thrilled that we were really on the beach with our feet in the sand and not just next to it; first things first were walking in the water and filling up our bottles with the alcohol we’d managed to smuggle in. I was antsy, and so after people watching for a bit we walked around the festival some. We ate some overpriced but pretty decent food, looked at the vendors’ tents, and saw a group of guys gathered around one of those games that measures how hard you punch something, which was a great amusement to yours truly. (I love watching the silly contests that men get into.)
As we strolled from booth to booth, I was pleasantly surprised to hear one of the guys mention a desire to get noticed by Weezer, and to get to meet them, and especially Rivers Cuomo, who’s been my idol since I was 16. I’d been keeping a lid on that wish, myself. I guess I was afraid of sounding ridiculous. It was sort of freeing to be able to talk about it with other people, to day dream openly, especially since it’s been a secret wish of mine for so long. I realized that I keep a lot of things private because I don’t want to be made fun of. When did I get so uptight? Why did I care so much? Another puzzle piece.
The first group we saw was The Givers. Happily, I noticed that they had a girl singer who also played ukelele. It always stokes the fires of that rock star dream when I see other people doing the things that I can do, up on stage and playing for crowds, abandoning themselves to their music, and it was very curious to me to see how a group of normal looking young adults had found their way to a stage at Deluna Fest. How do you get there, anyway? Would we ever make it? I was so old, and too square to even relax and dance around in the crowd of a concert, much less to jump up on stage for an audience who may or may not even like what I do.
The nerves were starting to creep in, and so I made a decision to forget myself and watch the show. It still amazes me that it works–or maybe I’m more amazed that I haven’t figured out how to do it sooner. I think that the liquor helped, too. I only drank a moderate amount, wanting to have my wits about me for Weezer, especially since my inebriation by the end of the night had something to do with my disappointment at the last concert.
Then, a new realization was upon me: drinking is one of the many things in my life (like sleep, or television, or excessive facebook usage, or self interest, or even daydreaming) that I tend to reduce to a function, to use for what I can “get out of it”–to distract myself from the agony of boredom, or to calm my nerves, or to numb suffering of some kind. It seems like there’s always something in my life on which I’ve become overly dependent, and when I kick one vice, I realize that I’ve unwittingly become snared by another, and so I’m really just trading out different obsessions from week to week. Essentially, I was only cutting heads off the hydra, because I hadn’t dealt with the underlying problem: the inability to accept my circumstances with good grace without needing some sort of palliative.
That realization, which I’ve carried with me, didn’t come immediately, but it was starting to dawn on me as I realized that I was actually having a lot of fun on my own even though I wasn’t getting drunk. I was relaxed, and happy, and so I stowed away my bottle. I didn’t need it any more, and I didn’t want a bathroom trip to interfere with Weezer, which was now only hours away.
We sat through Cold War Kids, which I think the others might have enjoyed, but for whom I couldn’t muster up the slightest bit of care or excitement. They were on Weezer’s stage, and as soon as they were off, Weezer could start setting up. We broke out the glow necklaces my girl friend and I had snagged at the grocery store and made our way to the front of the crowd as the set ended and people began to disperse.
To our dismay, we realized that we’d been almost as close as we could get; the other area was fenced off for VIP access. The indignity–to have come so far, to want to see the band so badly among a crowd of people who were there for other acts, and then to be relegated to a spot agonizingly far away from the stage. The guys, at least, weren’t going to take it on the chin like that, and hatched a plan.
If you’re a regular reader, you know that I’ve been struggling with a rebellious bent, a need to have my own way and to do things that I’ve decided are “bad” somewhere along the way. I’ve never even written on a bathroom wall, or stolen anything, or cheated on a test (no really–never. I’m good as gold.) So, what we did next was a new experience for me–we sneaked into the VIP area.
I say “sneaked,” but no one was watching the gate, and hardly anyone was in the crowd, even in the general admission area. We turned our purple wristbands inside out to show the white side, which looked more like the gold bracelets the VIP’s had on (to add to my ire, most of those people who I saw with gold bracelets on were kids–!!!–18 and under, and even a preteen girl with a smart mouth, who was perched on a railing, bemoaning all of us with purple bracelets who “just refuse[d] to leave!”)
We were so close, packed in along the front fence next to a hippie couple that kept making out (the guy had actually been to see Weezer at Tipitina’s in 1994, when they played Pinkerton songs that had been unreleased at the time), some girls with American flag bandanas wrapped around their wrists to hide their bands, and a bunch of raucous, shirtless frat boys who unfortunately lost the beach ball they’d been pummeling around when it came down our way and someone (who shall remain unidentified) lobbed it onto the stage and out of their reach, much to the relief of us all. We were afraid they would get us kicked out of the VIP area, since all of them had purple wrist bands on, as well, and so we tried our best to look like we belonged, and to avoid notice.
The guitars came out: Scott’s bass, Brian’s sparkly Explorer, and then Rivers’ guitars, including the one with his lightning bolt guitar strap. His guitar–the guitar that he’d been playing for years, that his hands had held and gotten their sweat and skin on, that had rested against his hip bone and warmed with his body heat as he played the music that I loved. I felt reverent, standing there looking at them, the artifacts of some other world that I’d only dreamed about. The anticipation was enormous. We were there at last, with our feet in the sand, the ocean to one side of us, and the stage in front; this was really happening.
Karl came out during set up. We yelled at him and he turned to look at us. I couldn’t think of anything to say, so I told him that we had the same birthday, and he drew something in the air that looked like “915,” but I’m not sure. (Karl, who is some sort of band historian/set up guy/webmaster/unofficial member, is one of my favorite parts of Weezer, by the way. He seems like someone who would be fun to hang out with.)
Then, things took a turn for the worse. It had gotten darker as we waited, and the crowd was packed up against the fence behind us when the security guards came by with their flashlights. We had a dilemma–they had noticed our wrist bands and told us to get out. Where were we going to find a place? There was no way we were getting through that crowd and up to the front. We walked to the left like they instructed us, and my friends decided to try hiding in the crowd, in hopes that the guards would think they’d done their job and leave. No such luck for me.
We got split up–I was with one of the guys and my girl friend was with the other. A security guard recognized the guy I was with, started yelling and cursing, and let him know in no uncertain terms that it was time to leave or be removed. So, we left. The other two never followed, so we figured they’d avoided detection.
We left, and I was indignant. Not again! After all of that effort and such a long trip, I was so close to being right up front; my circumstances had aligned so perfectly! The VIP entrance on the left side, unlike the one we’d slipped through to get in near the front, opened up at the very back of the crowd, and so we kicked our way through the sand along the long, fenced off corridor beside the dunes, exiting the gate just in time to hear Weezer come on stage and start playing. I had a moment of clarity: this was the first real test of accepting my circumstances, of not letting my frustrated ego make the decisions for me, and to live, without succumbing to despair.
I prayed, briefly, I think. I don’t even know what I define as prayer any more. I didn’t say anything, didn’t ask for anything, just thought for a moment about what I’d learned, about how to humbly accept the lot that God gave me, and to know that He loved me, and that that was enough for anyone. I thought about how badly I wanted it, and how far I’d come, and then I reminded myself to be grateful, and to trust that God wanted to please me, and suppressed the disappointment in my heart. Whatever happened, I was there on a beautiful beach, my favorite band was playing, and I was alive and had air in my lungs and people to share the experience with. That was a gift in itself. “Trust Me,” I thought I heard in my heart, and decided to let Him handle what happened to me. In the mean time, might as well enjoy the show.
My friend was upset as well, and angry, but we decided to make a dash through the crowd to try to get as close to the front as possible. We eventually got as far forward as we could go, which was still behind a wall of people. Then, I noticed people on the sand dunes.
The crowd was packed up to the gate, but on the left side were sand dunes that the VIP walk had wound its way around to lead into the area in front of the stage. That looked like a better vantage point than any we’d have on the ground, even close to the front of the general admission area. We lingered for a moment, and for my part, I was afraid that what I wanted to do would warrant security removing me from the festival, but I saw half a dozen people or so on the dune, and so I decided. After all, I was already a rule breaker for sneaking into the VIP area–in for a penny, in for a pound.
The shoulder bag I was carrying went flying over first, with my shoes strapped to it. I followed, and hopping the fence was a lot easier than I thought it would be, even if a few people probably saw my underwear. My guy friend hopped over, and we ran to the front of the dunes.
What a view! Suddenly, it didn’t matter that we weren’t close to the stage. We were pretty close, the view was unobstructed, and the first song was only just wrapping up. I felt very pleased with how events had played out as the next song started, and settled in for the show, checking over my shoulder occasionally for flash lights to appear over the tops of the dunes. I’d done it, I thought. I didn’t let my circumstances defeat me. This was going to be all right, after all.
“Troublemaker” was the second song. It’s not one of my favorites, but I really like parts of it, and now it’s been forever connected in my brain to what happened next: Rivers Cuomo jumped off stage and over two barricades, then made his way over to the dunes–our dune.
It shouldn’t have surprised me. He came close to me in Austin in 2008 when he jumped off the stage, riding around on the shoulders of a security guard. At Voodoo fest last year, he climbed on top of a Port-a-Potty and serenaded the crowd. It made sense that he’d venture out at Deluna Fest, but I hadn’t thought to expect it.
People started rushing at him immediately, including some of the shirtless beach ball guys, and one guy whom I saw clap down on both his shoulders and cause him to stumble. I was frozen in place–if I were a rock star, I wouldn’t want people rushing at me and crowding my space, and I think it would bother me how everyone wanted a piece of me. Also, I was star struck again, just standing there with my mouth open staring at him. Then, I made a decision–I would hate myself forever if after all that had happened, he’d been two feet away from me and I hadn’t even tried to touch him. I ran over, reached out, and touched him on the shoulder as he was walking by.
I wish that I had a more clear visual memory. For the most part, I remember the back of his head, and the way his hair looked slightly sweaty and long, like he needed a haircut. There were details that stood out that made him more human than he’d ever seemed to me–tendons on the back of the hand holding the microphone, stubble on the side of his jaw that was visible from up close, the way his hair waved a little at the ends. I also remember getting a strong impression of how focused he seemed–closed off, not interacting with any of the crazy people around him trying to touch any part of him they could, just pushing his way past tall beach grass and trudging inexorably forward through the shifting, sandy terrain to get to a spot where he could face the crowd. (I was briefly reminded of the scene in the Bible where Jesus is getting crowded in and a woman breaks through the frenzy, reaches up, and grabs the hem of His garment; it was some kind of mania like that. Only, he never turned around to look at me.)
I touched him, and first I felt the soft, suede-like material of his jacket, and then solid warmth. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was surprised to feel heat and firm muscle beneath my fingers before he was out of reach and kept walking, never once turning to where I could see his face clearly. There was a living, breathing human being with a beating heart under that jacket; something about that was remarkably profound to me, shattered some mental constructs in ways I can’t explain. Touching him felt just like touching someone I might have bumped onto the street–surprisingly familiar, and undeniably human. What a contrast with this image of I have of him, as an idol, assembled in my imagination and made up of two dimensional pictures, video captures, recorded music, some writings and tweets, and all these ideas about him with which I’ve filled in the blanks. He’d never been alive to me before–warm under my fingertips, real, and within my reach.
I get it now–I get why people want to touch their heroes in some way. It made him more real to me, I guess, confirmed his existence in some way that it had never been before. It meant nothing, and yet, relatively, it meant so much.
I won’t go on too much about it, but I can tell you that, beyond his music, I’ve been really enthralled with his existence, as much as I am with Thomas Merton’s. According to The Seven Storey Mountain, his autobiography, when Merton (who eventually became a Trappist monk) was a young man, he told his friend Bob Lax, in response to a question about what he wanted to do with his life, that he wanted to be a “good Catholic.” Lax told him that he ought to desire to be a saint, and Merton, perplexed, asked him how he should go about that, to which Lax replied, “by wanting to.” Merton was struck by the obviousness of that simple statement, as was I. Since I was a little girl, I’d always wondered what it took to become someone like Merton or Mother Teresa or Gandhi. Reading that account was the first time I felt I ever had affirmation that my instincts and desires were on target, that theirs was a destiny accessible to the common man (or woman.)
Similarly, according to Rivers, at age 16 he asked his parents “zen master” (he grew up on an ashram) what to do with his life, because everything seemed phony. College and career weren’t calling him, so what was there to do? The man told him that if everything was phony, he should do what was fun to him. Rivers wanted to become a rock star–to write music and play for crowds like he’d seen his idols Kiss doing. He started practicing for hours a day then packed up, moved to LA, and got a job at a record store. The rest is history.
What a testament to the human will, to making your own way in life by following your heart and pursuing your dreams. He was just some teenager before he was the guy from Weezer, and he made it. I’m not sure why he succeeded when so many fail. Maybe it’s because he was willing to give up everything and invest so much to realize it. Maybe what was inside him was calling out so strongly that he couldn’t ignore it, had to realize his vocation. That’s what I imagine, anyway, when I consider how it feels to have a calling, like I’m brimming with some sort of unrealized potential, and that it’s imperative that I give it some sort of form or action. I guess I’ll never know what it was like for him.
It really spoke to me, since at the time I heard the interview, I’d recently decided not to go to graduate school or to pursue any conventional career paths, but instead to devote my life to service to others and to discovering my identity, hoping eventually to change my world. The passage from Merton had let me know that I was on the right path, but I was experiencing a lot of dejection and disappointment because, in comparison to my own life, the rest of Merton’s journey had seemed so holy, so saintly, so easy and successful, even. I suppose I identified more with Rivers’ brokenness, his finding his own way outside of the structured path and supportive community of the religious order (even at times in direct opposition to what one might consider moral, as I felt some of my own actions were) and having only himself as a guide. It’s a great accomplishment, especially considering his history with mental illness, about which he has been unusually forthcoming.
I don’t like to talk about my depression and anxiety issues. I make myself sometimes, because I believe that it’s important to share our experiences if we’re to learn from each other and grow, but all in all, I often feel ashamed and very secretive about the mess inside my head. I’d rather no one knew the particulars, had an idea of the extent of the issues that I’ve since overcome to become a functional, fulfilled individual.
Rivers, however, has been unapologetically candid about his struggles. He’s openly discussed how, after Pinkerton’s commercial and critical failure, he spent a year or so in an apartment with the walls painted black and the windows covered up, refusing to go outside or take any phone calls. His lyrics are colorful vignettes detailing the ugly, raw side of human emotion–loneliness, desperation, insignificance, self loathing. He’s fluent in irony and paradox, which I believe are necessary tools if one is to attempt to describe the human experience. In his writings and interviews, he’s been frank about the unsavory things he’s done (sex with groupies, illicit drug use, and completely isolating himself from friends and family) and places he’s taken himself (oriental massage parlors in slum neighborhoods, for instance) during his journey of self discovery. His honesty astounds me sometimes, makes my petty attempts to save face seem cowardly and shameful.
I’d been trying to hide my crazy for years, and yet, he was owning his, confessing it–to hoards of strangers, even–instead of stashing it away and pretending that it didn’t exist, as I am so apt to do. Instead of burying it deep in the recesses of his subconscious, he was brave enough to sublimate all that drive and passion and craft music out of it, make it into art, leave a legacy. How genius, and what hope for redemption it gives me. What a curious example of humanity–so broken, and yet able to transcend that brokenness and use his art to touch so many lives. (His diaries, notes, e-mails, and pictures from the Pinkerton years are due to be published soon. I can’t wait to read it, and yet my heart aches some for the amount of vulnerability that he’s generating for himself; what an undertaking, what exposure.)
I remember, a year or two ago, poring over notes he’d written about “My Brain,” a song about the relentless pressure inside his head, and really connecting with the lyrics: “I freak and then hallucinate. I go at lights when I should wait. My parents think I’m lazy, but damn, I’m going crazy! I can’t help my mental state.” Immediately, I thought the severe stress reactions to which I’ve fallen prey and stupid risk-taking behaviors that I’ve engaged in during darker times in my life. (After some careful thought, I’ve removed my description of them from this write up. The reader doesn’t have to know the particulars, but it’s important to note that these reactions were indicators of a severely disturbed mental condition, and that I’m still amazed and exceedingly grateful that no harm came to me from indulging my particular reckless habit. I’d be happy to talk to anyone who asks about them, but some information doesn’t need to be broadcasted without the proper context. I don’t know if that makes me a coward, or prudent.) Furthermore, no one in my life–family, friends, teachers, counselors–had ever before understood me when I tried to tell them that I didn’t have a problem with being lazy. I was inactive because all the color had drained out of my life. There was no meaning in any of it for me, and so I had no motivation. What was the point? All I wanted to do was be dead to the world, and I couldn’t muster up the energy to be any different, not even to help myself. Such a simple line, and yet it vindicated years of strife: I couldn’t help my mental state.
I said that I wouldn’t go on long, but I guess I did anyway. All of that is to say that it meant something to me when I touched him. I’ve always wanted to meet one of my heroes–Merton, Mother Teresa, Evelyn Underhill, M. Scott Peck, St. John of the Cross–but they are all dead, all except Rivers. I’ve longed for the opportunity to meet someone who did something radical and outstanding with their lives, have even been consciously aware of the desire for some time now. Maybe I thought that by meeting someone like that, I’d have some clue to figuring out my own life; I’m not sure, I’ve just always wanted to do it. The closest I’ve ever gotten before was standing beside Merton’s grave. The earth was frozen from the recent snow and his bones had been underground for longer than I’ve been alive; the experience, though meaningful, was cold, dead, and still. Now, I’ve gotten to touch a living idol of mine; it was just a brush on the shoulder, but the shoulder belonged to the man that made Pinkerton.
I think that’s really cool.
I’m also keenly aware that this happy event took place right after the first time I made a conscious decision to trust God in a new way, by removing my attachments and investments as a consideration and living for the present–not the past or the future. He knew my heart, and gave me a wonderful gift in granting my silly teenage dream, all because I decided to trust Him. Maybe there’s another way to interpret it, and maybe that sounds juvenile, but it is what it is.
After Rivers made his way out of my reach, I stopped and watched him go, not wanting to get trampled, but made my way up to him again when he stopped to sing to the crowd, and got to touch him one more time, though that time I was concentrating too hard not on not getting pushed over to really think all that much about it. Then, the song was over and he was gone. I didn’t try to chase him.
I nagged at myself some after it was over–why hadn’t I tried to touch his outstretched hand (or his face–or his butt!–as we jokingly considered later)? All of that aside, I was just happy that I’d managed to touch him.
I was in a fantastic mood for the rest of the show (all of this mental processing was shelved and followed in the days after), and it just kept getting better. One of the guys who had been shoving Rivers got taken away by a security guard with plastic ties around his hands. We enjoyed a few songs from up on the dunes, until a drunk woman climbed up, stumbled into my friend twice (which was apparently, a sign that there was a glitch in the matrix), and security came to remove her. Then, they came for us. One of them was nice, and handed me my bag, but the other one–a rotund fellow with a crew cut and a flashlight who ended up falling in the sand–began to herd us away, yelling with some mean spirited satisfaction, “That’s right! All the way to the back!”
Was I brave enough to defy the Deluna Fest security three times? Well, the last time I did, I ended up touching Rivers, so maybe the third time would get me backstage–ha! Besides, as my friend said, “I’m good now.” We both had experienced enough to make the trip worthwhile.
Anyway, we ignored him and jumped the gate closest to the front, which we didn’t realize would land us right back in the VIP section.
Soon enough, we realized how close we were, when we saw our friends a few feet ahead of us. We yelled for them and they didn’t notice, at which point I gave up and started directing all of my overflowing energy to the show. I was ecstatic. I don’t usually move much at concerts; I’m so painfully self conscious and worried about what people think that most of the time, I just sort of stand there trying to figure out what to do with my hands. This time, however, buoyed by my good fortune, I relaxed and had the best time ever.
We were eventually reunited, up front again (the word “Dude!” was tossed around a lot), with a crowd about three people thick in front of us. I danced (which I also almost never do except for alone in my room), and I screamed for the band–”Weeeeeezer!” and “Rivers!”–until I was hoarse.
At one point, I’m relatively sure that Brian was looking at me. I grinned, made the Weezer sign with my hands, did a little dance, and then he grinned back, so maybe he was. That’s how I’m going to interpret it, anyway. Rivers never did look up, but I really enjoyed getting to watch him press the strings on his guitar and make his funny, awkward little dance moves. The crowd around us was a little anemic, and there were a few flubs with the lyrics, but it didn’t effect how much fun I was having carrying on, and we all had the good time that we’d come so far for.
I’d finally broken through all my nerves and fears and reservations and relaxed and found real joy waiting for me at the end of it, and it didn’t even fade into disappointment at the end of the night like it tends to for me. Every time I’ve been looking forward to something for a long time and it’s finally over, I’m inevitably sidelined by disappointment and dreariness. Not so in this case. I even managed to hang in after the show and get a set list, which I held onto tightly like someone was going to 1) know what the folded up paper in my hands was 2) care and 3) try to take it from me.
We camped on the beach that night, and I was reminded that I could have fun with people, and that I didn’t have to be afraid of them. I was the oldest one on the trip, and I was worried about it, especially since I’d fallen into the “mom” role of hauling all the stuff, making the reservations, and bringing along baby wipes (which come in handy for wiping off marshmallow goo), and also, because I am a nervous person in general. Another puzzle piece slid into place: others’ youth doesn’t have to threaten me. Instead, I can let it invigorate me, and celebrate it. I never would have had the creativity to come up with some of what they did that night–taking a stroll on the beach at three in the morning and ending up in the ocean under the stars that we couldn’t have seen under city lights, felling an entire tree for firewood using only hands and feet and determination, diving through tunnels in the sand (and almost dying), deciding to stay up to catch the sunrise, again on the beach.
I laughed a lot, I was amazed by their willingness to pursue new experiences, and I felt younger than I have in a long time. That’s not to say that I’m terribly old, just that I’ve built up quite the resistance to spontaneity over the years, have let fear or convention govern my actions for so long. I’ve been trying to figure out how to break out of that mold for a long time now. I found a lot of validation that night. Instead of contrived attempts to impress one person or another, I actually found myself forgetting about myself and just enjoying the experiences we were sharing, which was a validation of a completely different kind. Since I wasn’t invested in any outcome, the nerves disappeared, and all sorts of possibilities opened up.
We greeted the sunrise on the beach, and notably absent were feelings of regret or despair now that our trip was on its way to ending. No regrets, because I felt I’d lived very fully that night; no despair, because I was beginning to realize, as the rising sun streaked the sky with neon shades of pink and orange, that I could live every day the way that I’d lived that night.
All of those puzzle pieces were finally locking into place, and I was finally aware of the epiphany I’d been circling around for months: I can live every day that fully. I didn’t have to be downtrodden because an experience was ending. Rather, I could take heart in the discovery of a new way of being, and just when I thought that I’d be stuck where I was forever, imprisoned by my own doubts and fears and selfishness. Who knew there was a way out? Who knew that it could get so much better just by a simple act of faith? I can’t even figure out how I missed it for so long.
Sure, it was easy to live fully, with such an event to center our actions around, and in the company of vibrant, inquisitive young people whose hearts and minds hadn’t been dulled by convention, routine, and all the other drudgery that society breeds into us. I know the “trick” of it now, though: faith, trust, acceptance, detachment, humility. Read into it what you will, but if God was trying to get my attention, sending Rivers Cuomo onto my sand dune was a pretty spectacular way to let me know I was on to something.
So, that’s my account of it. Going back to read it over is strange. Some of it seems to be stressed more than it should be in the writing out, and other parts of it are muted. I’m typically very critical of my writing, especially such a personal account. How can I convey the serenity that I’ve found that blossomed and flowered over the course of a weekend without sounding mawkish or sentimental? I suppose I ought not to worry about it.