Volunteers in a Dangerous time …

(Folk festival etiquette for volunteers—or social norm tips amongst crazy IMG_6048creative folk festivallers)
“May I join you?” the question from long dreads that fall from the tall black felted top hat, as her blue meal plate balances in left hand and walking stick in right.
“Yes,” I reply, then add “You don’t look like an ordinary volunteer.”
“I’m not sure how to take that.”
“None of us are ordinary volunteers,” simultaneously from the aging grey haired hippy, accrued pot (or beer) belly, loud red flower shirt.
Trying to politically correct my opener I add, “Last year I noticed that a few of the artists ate in the volunteer tent.” (She looks more like a performer than one of the 1,800 usual volunteers)
“Well, last year I was a performer.” She fesses … and puts in a promo for her current weekly gig at Angel’s Cappuccino. (Aha, I was right.) And then quickly I chastise myself that it’s not about being right/wrong. This woman in the black pleated mini-skirt and hat sits down directly across me, ready for conversation.
“That’s the best hat I think I’ve ever seen,” an 18 yr old starry eyed girl gushes to my new found dinner partner and receives a huge grin thanks in return. Why didn’t I think of that? While social graces are different in every setting, compliments are always acceptable.
The ancient words I’d read and adopted that morning were to give encouragement to the tired, and I realize one fatigue comes from trying to fit in with the surrounding culture, without being swallowed up whole.IMG_0259
Earlier that day the meal coordinator came to ask for extra bodies to help with food preparation, but then asked if we were vegetarian, as we would be working with meat. The other girl bowed out, but I said, “I’ve worked in operating rooms for over 30 years, I’ve handled a lot of meat.”
Faux pas number one …

Later under a perfect summer evening, Bruce Cockburn sings Lovers in a Dangerous Time, and I’m left to ponder some of the artificial social dangers created which add stress. What was Bruce thinking when he wrote those words, along with:

These fragile bodies of touch and taste
This vibrant skin — this hair like lace
Spirits open to the thrust of grace
Never a breath you can afford to waste
… …
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Sometimes you’re made to feel as if your love’s a crime —
But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight —
Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time

Cockburn’s response was:
“When I wrote that, I was thinking of kids my daughter’s age. She was quite young at the time. But, for any given individual, the world has always been a place where you could die. That’s the baseline. At times we can ignore that, more than other times. There are times when fear is in the air, and, of course, there’s always people around willing to exploit that, and enhance it, if need be.”(1)

It appears I was a volunteer in a dangerous time! But as Red Green used to say, “Keep your stick on the ice, we’re all in this together.”
I’m letting go of taking things too seriously.
And the curried beef was fantastic that evening!

(1)-from “Bruce Cockburn: Interior Motive” by Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times, 22 November 1994. Submitted by Nigel Parry./Google search

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