It is Monday afternoon and I am grateful to find myself up in ‘Cottage Country’. Beautiful Muskoka – a few hours north of Toronto. I just stirred from a nap in the sun, laid out on a lounger down on the dock. It was a welcome rest after a quick sleep last night. I awoke in a tent this morning after a full weekend of volunteering at Hillside Music Festival in Guelph, Ontario. We slept through a bit of a storm and arose early to pack up and hit the road.
I was camping with my brother and some good friends, enjoying the music, energy and all-around fun scene of this fantastic festival, which is as old as I, having just finished its 31st summer. I was a ‘dish ninja’ and served 12 hours in the dish pit over three days. We take pride in our work and earn our keep. It is good, honest labour to say the least.
We dodged the nasty weather that had been predicted for Saturday, facing only a quick afternoon shower – but it didn’t stray too far. As the storm came in last night, along with fiery forks of lightning and incredible crashes of thunder, the performances were suspended and eventually the final few shows were cancelled.
I was grateful to see how easily I took the news. It had already been a great weekend, and though I would have loved to enjoy more music, especially The Wood Brothers, I simply took the news as it came. I know there is no use in struggling with ‘what is’. Whereas many felt let down and harped over their disappointment, I found myself excited by the storm and rolling with the new direction the evening was taking.
Lots of volunteers burrowed into their tents and strapped in for a wild night, reports of potential tornadoes in the air. Many fled. Tents disappeared and cars streamed from the island. But my brother and I sauntered over to the sound of some drums in Volunteer Village, keen to join whoever was still celebrating.
We found ourselves around a fire under a big blue tarp, several carefree souls drumming, dancing and singing, not a hint of disappointment to be seen or heard. I met a girl there who talked about the joy of spontaneous scenarios like this. We had a schedule with bands slotted to play at certain times at certain stages, and once that was thrown out the window, many didn’t know what to do. Others seemed to thrive in this unpredictable space.
As we chatted about it, I saw how easily our expectations lead to disappointment. For those who simply accept whatever is happening right now, despite perhaps working towards concrete goals, nothing can really ‘go wrong’. For those who had invested in their particular vision of the future, banking on hearing their favourite bands, their crash back into the moment was more jarring, and certainly less welcome.
I can’t imagine having had any more fun than I did last night, or throughout the whole weekend. I didn’t feel as though anything was taken away with the cancellation of several headlining sets. Instead, I found myself enjoying the scene as it unfolded, charging forward into the beautiful mystery of the unknown, unplanned present moment. Some people seemed panicked, lost and frustrated, eyes somewhat glazed over, but as I scanned the crowds, the many smiling eyes I encountered seemed completely present and at peace, despite the storm of uncertainty swirling about us.
On this Monday evening (or whenever you read this), I hope that we can all take a moment to be intentionally present, freeing ourselves from expectations or regrets. Whether with a simple breath or a stretch, I encourage you to feel whatever sensations you are experiencing right now, giving them your complete attention, not allowing yourself to be pulled away by your thoughts. What a wonderful peace is available to us right here – always.
Now, after scribbling out this quick off-the-cuff post, I am going to rejoin my friends for some cottage fun. It looks like burgers and pasta are on the menu tonight. I’ll be back next Monday with perhaps a more focused post, but this is me for the moment. Enjoy your week! :)