Wednesday, May 30, 2012

After the Caravan

Today is the first full day back at home, post-course.  There is still an enormous amount of information to be processed; in keeping with a concept that I have been working with and writing about in a private journal, the feeling is more like I'd been gone for quite a bit longer than six days and some hours.  Could it be that time really does become relative to the content coming in?

The course was, personally, incredibly validating:  it was a huge amount of work to pull it off, but what is even more amazing was how incredibly well it all went.  There were some wrinkles, to be sure, but from a logistical standpoint, the entire running of the course was exceptionally smooth and straightforward.  This is also at least partially due to the participants, as well:  the general quality of the beginners was really high, the talent on tap from the more experienced folks was palpable, and the Orchestra work that presented itself was really good.  Good enough, in fact, that I totally understood RF's decision to exhibit it in public performance--turning up the heat was the most logical thing to do to push the course to the next level.

* * *

As the course began to rumble into inevitability--to move from the conceptual to the "no, we really are about to have close to sixty people on this relatively small piece of property"--I was gradually becoming aware of a personal shift coming.  I think this might have started to percolate right around the end of this past season of performances with GCNE, but it crystallized three days before everyone arrived.  That Sunday was spent on site at Camp Caravan moving things, assembling beds, cleaning spaces, and loading in the first major load of foodstuffs.  Interestingly, the timing of the course meant that we were "inheriting" the space immediately following a short Movements seminar that was being held on site; several of us in the Circle shared the seminar's closing lunch that became our opening meal for the day's work.  

Partway through the meal, the conversation that had been slowly building came to a very short and small lull.  This was nothing particularly interesting in and of itself, but I suddenly became aware that Silence was peeking around the corner, for just a brief moment--the taste is unmistakable, even though I was a little surprised to notice it so early.  It didn't take hold in the room, and was quickly gone again, like a drop of water into a lake, but the ripple continued on throughout the day.  At the end of the day, as we completed, and I noted that I had moved to Boston exactly 7 years prior at that time, the shift happened:  I was aware that the next stage of my life had begun.

And how it has begun--I am so glad that it began with this course, and in this way.  The presence of love among us all throughout the week was undeniable; the need to begin this next cycle of life with love was not quite something I'd been thinking about, but I can see just how vital it was to begin in that way.  On a personal level, last year was very hard on me, and I was very hard on myself, and to get the chance to begin again with a bit of love and hope was far more valuable than I had initially expected or considered.  Times of transition are hard for most everyone, to be sure, and this period is no exception.  But to find the depth of good will in this world, and to get an insight into what is personally satisfactory, is about as much as I could have hoped for.  In fact, it is far more than that.

One interesting thing about the week was the regularity with which people looked to me for help.  Also, the regularity with which I found myself guiding and directing things, having to answer questions about processes and practicalities and Crafty things, and making choices and acting in ways that I wasn't quite preparing for.  At one point towards the end of the course, a fellow participant referred to me as "Mr. Guitar Circle New England".  It was partially in jest, and fully out of respect and in search of an answer to a musical question, but I still felt awkward about it.  In fact, I truly felt fraudulent.  I wanted to tell him, "No, you're wrong, I'm not your guy, there's so many other people here that are more deserving to ask that question."  Even so, my only option was to answer his question anyway, to give the right answer, regardless of whether I felt able to do so.

I wonder if this is what teaching is really like, at times.

* * *

One incredibly powerful moment, for me, came during the day of the full-course performance.  In a session with Frank Sheldon, the intermediates/advanced players were invited to begin walking around the auditorium with guitars on, being aware of the space and what and who was around us, with the aim to continually find the largest space in the room.  This would constantly change, which added to the challenge; one had to continually move around.  At a certain point, Frank called for those with names beginning with a range of letters to form a square in the room.  Another group formed a triangle, and another group continued to move around.  As the session progressed, each group continued to shift, to move, and to interpolate among the others; our square eventually de-squared and began to move faster through the room.  By this point, we were all circulating and improvising at the same time we moved through the room.

At the height of it all, the circulations and playing began to grow even more adventurous, and movement around the space was growing very energetic.  A circulation came my way, and for the first time that I can remember, along with the feeling of the note passing along, I had the unmistakable feeling of receiving from and giving to the same person at exactly the same time.  There seems to be no word for what it was except direct contact.  I could almost look at that moment and the whizzes from the first night and the performance as being worth the entire week's course.

* * *

So what next?

After getting home from the course, I took a good long nap, as I'd needed for the past few days, and found myself waking up at 6 p.m. and realizing that I was going to go to the Bennett group meeting that I hadn't been expecting to attend.

Some hours later, returning home from the cross-town trip, I found myself fixing dinner, sitting down, and then typing out the application for the AAD course that begins tomorrow.  Even as involved as I have been with this work, it's been largely focused on a local level, and I can't help but think that I need to move my involvement up a step.  RF said something at the opening meeting for this past course about how things tend to breathe in and to breathe out, and how the work of the Circle-at-large seems to be on an outward-bound breath.  At this point, I don't feel I can afford to stand by and simply watch it happen (even as I can barely afford to pay my rent!).  A Hellboy strongly suggested that I find my place in music.  At the moment, it seems like it's here.