This is a smaller event in Canada that I had heard about by meeting Big Bad Jim in Alaska the year before. He had mentioned it casually, and we had discussed what went on. It took a whole year for me to go, but I was so ready. I'm my head this was an extreme challenge weekend, and mostly of the mind, but the body had to do it too.
After finding folks online to carpool with from the airport, and the car adventures along the way, we arrived and checked into the Queer room - a much smaller set of bunk beds, and getting to room with Tillie was an extra bonus. They run a mentor program at this event, so if you've never been before, someone will explain things, or hold your hand, or give you Mentos.
I'm a pretty social person and had no problems walking around talking and introducing myself to people, and immediately getting involved helping dig a thirty foot long fire pit. Before we actually got to walk it, it had to be lit and cool down, and the sun go down too. So, in the meantime I went off to go walking bare foot over a couple of feet of broken glass. No feet were harmed as a result.
|About to go up|
After a carefully supervised walk outside, we got to a small meadow with a crane set up and Elwood went to work threading rope through a rig, and then to my hooks. He pulled the tension from the rope holding me to the rig, and just held on.
I danced from one tip toe to another, slowly testing my weight, feeling the hooks, feeling my stomach. It was the same sensation as right before stepping out of an airplane with a parachute. Elwood was patient just letting me figure it out for myself. I put more weight into my shoulders, slowly leaning more and more forward, and less on my toes. At some point Elwood pointed out that I've not got weight in my toes anymore, and I should just pull them up - which I did. And then he pulled the rope up, removing any choice for me to put my feet back down.
My body had its own shock moment - I want to dry heave, I need water badly as my mouth is a desert. I fart really loud and fear that my body is letting everything go. But the fears are unfounded. I take some sips of water and all is ok. I am separated from my shadow.
I look back at him now and smile - and he sees that I get it. He pulls again on the rope so I'm higher and then I start to feel the other world calling. People around the crane are talking and having fun with each other, but I ask for quiet so I can experience this for myself.
|On a quest|
My body is finally done, and down I come. Of course I'm bratty about it, and keep my legs as high as I can so I don't touch down, and when I do, Elwood pulls the rope again so I go up. We laugh and I promise to bite his head later. My legs feel ridiculously heavy, and my shoulders still have a good feeling like I have wings there.
The rest of the day just drifted by. I sat with people, I participated in some drumming, I ate and had community all around - and through all of it, there was a pervasive sense of calm. It felt very comfortably like home. I felt very open - so I took the rest of the day as easily as I could. Another participant also had an opportunity to do a Kavadi ritual - lots of spears were placed in her using a large rig and limes were attached to the ends of the spears. It was awesome to watch, and walk around with her, and then later we sat and connected with each other.
I'm so happy I went to this event. Not only did I get to connect with a lot of people, with good conversations and shared experiences - but I was made to feel at home and welcomed. The food and kitchen folks were amazing all weekend, making sure we had food. I pitched in and contributed my time and energy, and it was well received. Whatever definition of community you use, this felt like one to me. Ride the Pig!