The Wild Goose

Kymberlee and I are at our third Wild Goose Festival this long weekend. The Wild Goose is, like most interesting and good things, hard to explain without experiencing it. That is why I’ve never mentioned it in my blog.

However, this year we’re not camping (sold the van…), so we’re staying somewhere with electricity and wifi, two things we lived without the first two times. So even though we still don’t have cell coverage in Hot Springs, NC, I’ve committed to doing a post a day while I’m here, mostly to make me put into words what goes on for me during the festival. I’m also going to admit some vulnerability here, because at the heart of this festival about music, art, and spirituality is that tricky thing called faith.

People don’t talk about faith much outside their intimate circle because it is vulnerable to have a belief challenged. Yes, all the religious wars are proper evidence of how threatening people of different beliefs can be. So enjoy but be warned: I might say something that will piss you off. Like using the phrase “piss you off.”

Kymberlee and I work as volunteers at the Goose, partly because it is more affordable that way and partly because it is a great way to meet people with giant hearts and interesting stories. We took off early this morning (7am!) with a strangely quiet car – no Evie (Cousin Camp!) and no Doodle (house sitter). We spend 4 hours doing something we don’t do very often – talking. That’s always good, but it is also usually a bit stressful. We made it fine through three pit stops and managed to pull into the grounds 15 minutes after our first volunteer shift started. No problem. We’re veterans of this gig and know that nothing happens on time the first day and we’re working the beer tent. That’s right, we both scored the most sought-after of volunteer duties where we dedicate our time to ensuring people are served great beer (Highlands Brewery of Asheville, NC) and wine. We even have root beet on tap this year for the tee-totalers. It’s the perfect setup, out of the sun and rain, located right by the main stage so we can catch much of the sessions and concerts while we’re on duty. It’s tough, but we’ll make it through.

I did a double shift today, making it 8 hours on my feet, checking IDs, pouring beer, and frantically trying to find enough change for $20 bills. I’ve always been romantically drawn to the server/bartender life, as I think it is a great blend of people and logistics. I do find the reality not quite the glorious experience I imagined, but it is still a blast. Here’s a few shots so you can better imagine our working conditions.

(mouse over for captions, click for slideshow)

The one thing that strikes me each year is how easy it is to make friends. We’re only together for 3-4 days, but in that time there are incredible conversations. I was amazed at how many of the faces I served today were familiar, some even brought up a name in my memory, an occurrence that my wife would admit is fairly rare. For me, the conversations revolve around both head and heart at the same time. There are some very intelligent people here, and almost without exception they are also incredibly warm. The contributors (performers, speakers, etc.) all seem to share a humble gene that makes them approachable. Many authors that I’ve read will gladly stop and chat with me for five minutes or more, making me feel like I’m the most important thing in the world right now. And that is just hard to find these days.

So thank you Wild Goose for creating an event where you can ask stupid questions to very smart people and still get a warm, caring reply. I look forward to more conversations tomorrow.


Categories: Deep Thoughts, Travel

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