Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Coming off the Island

Sharon Wildwind

From Wednesday to Sunday last week, I spend hours each day “on the island.” In Calgary, during the last week in July being on the island means attending the Calgary Folk Festival, held on Prince’s Island in the middle of the Bow River.

Here I am, old folkie and ex-Girl Scout, prepared for rain, heat, mosquitos, sunstroke, and other vagaries of nature.

In spite of ominous clouds building over the west end of the island, the usual Brigadoon weather conditions prevailed. It rained for 3 minutes on Saturday afternoon. The rest of the weekend was hot and sunny.

Thirty minutes before the gates opened on the first day, we received word in the volunteer tent that the entire weekend was sold out. That’s never happened before the gates even opened. A great time was had by all and, as all good things must, the weekend ended.

It was time to make that horrible transition back to everything I’d consigned to the after-the-folk-festival bin. It was a very full bin.

I’ve blogged before about the need to build ramps into and out of high-energy situations. Recently I’ve read about the Tao and about Zen and have gotten new images of what those kinds of transition may mean.

In the Tao reading I came across the concept of Qi energy. I think it is like a place where two streams come together. Activity energy moves at a certain speed; personal energy moves at a certain speed. On the morning after a wonderful, relaxing vacation, those two speeds are so mismatched that we feel more like we’ve been in a train wreck than on a holiday.

As a culture, we’ve lost the art of making transitions and consigned re-entries to astronauts. We’re expected to and expect ourselves to race from one situation to another without a single thought to how much energy is required to make a successful transition. This is one place where we really need to take better care of ourselves.

In the Zen reading I came across a sentence, “We die in love and are reborn in love thousands of times each day.” As an absolute Zen beginner I know that I don’t really have a clue yet what that means, but the first image that came to me was a whole line of Sharons, waiting like the patrons in line before the folk festival gate to open.

I realized that instead of one little person—me—being overwhelmed with laundry and bills and grocery shopping and returning library books and writing a blog and proofreading and doing my next writing assignment and watering the plants and taking a relative out to buy an iron and sorting out why my password on my web page suddenly isn’t working, I could assign each of those Sharons in line one small task.

Person #1, at the head of the line, got the task of dragging the hot, dusty, tired me up the stairs and opening my front door. Person #2 helped me strip off my sweaty clothes. Person #3 hopped in the shower and washed my hair. Person #4 got the best job of all. She took a long nap. Person #5 was waiting when I woke up to fix supper. On and on through dozens of Sharons, each with one small task to perform. So far, it’s working, and I’m getting through that long list, one small step at a time.

Quote for the week:

The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance. The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as perfect, as unspoiled, as if you had never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your life. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.
~ Arnold Bennett (1867 – 1931), English novelist and journalist


JJM said...

(Blogs need "like" buttons, too ... ) Liked your blog entry a lot. From folk festival to zen -- it makes an odd sense.


Anonymous said...

After several days on the island, Mario, it's real life that doesn't make a kind of odd sense.

Glad you liked the blog.