Well we’re at the Oregon Country Fair and what a joyous reunion it is. We were only apart for three days, but we greeted each other with warm hugs and silly “I missed you so much!” which was true.
Nearly everyone from Chautauqua is here, we all have different roles or jobs or shows. There is much fun in watching our friends performing their own shows, instead of just one or two acts. I hear the marching band tooting away right now over at Stage Left, oh so familiar songs give a nostalgic feeling of tour. And what a tour it was.
Many consider it to be a very blessed experience. The logistics were relatively smooth; the food was great and the weather cooperative. Mistakes we’re made and lessons learned, (hopefully). But nothing too serious. It was far from perfect, but what else could you really expect? They say there’s three ways to do things, the right way, the wrong way, and the Chautauqua way. So true. None-the-less, we pretty much rocked it the whole way along. The shows were incredible, and the community feedback we got from everywhere we went was inspiring. Yes we are making a difference, somehow, someway, you can see it in the smiles, you can feel it in the air.
Our last day was beautiful. Closing circle lasted for about 2 hours and everybody gave some heart and soul in recapping the tour. Joannie and some other experienced Chautauquans gave us a little history lesson, which was fascinating. It’s great to hear the old stories, it’s important for us newbies to stay connected to our history as we create our own new stories.
People spoke passionately about tour, what it meant to them, the challenges, the learning, and the community. Always the community, that really is what it’s all about here. This is family. Even when you’re so annoyed at something, when you just want to snap, and sometimes you do, but it’s okay in the end, love is love and we’re all in it together. Growth is never easy.
Some speeches were funny, some sad, some straightforward, some not. We really got the feeling from the group about just how special this is (at least for most of us). Beyond words for many, and yes I’m getting sappy here. Sorry, it’s my favorite thing in the world, along with Country Fair, and I will sap about it as much as I want, just you wait. So much love!
After closing circle we headed into Bend for the finale show. A sold out theatre, hooray! Electricity flowed through the air as act after act stepped up and gave it their all. For the finale act we had about 75 clubs flying through the air in near synchronistic geometric beauty. We received a standing ovation and danced with the crowd to Riverside. “Aint gonna study war no more…”
Back to camp where we took saunas and sang around the fire. Exhausted from three weeks of sheer exertion, yet triumphant, jubilant, accomplished. The last song was sung by Jeremiah, a 17 year old who’s been on every tour since he was born. He went into an improv jam where every verse was about Chautauqua; it was a beautiful closing. In the morning we packed up and headed our different ways. Goodbyes are a lot easier when it goes, “see you in three days!”
Sorry to gush, and I’m sure not everyone shares this sentiment, but this is how feel and I’m writing it as I choose.
So now here we are at the event that started it all. Thousand of people are diligently working to make this essential event happen. I am reminded of the sign again “We don’t work for free for nothing.” How true that is. And the something that we work for is so hard to define. I’m tempted towards words like magic, and love but that’s too simple. You have to experience it to understand.
The community, the friendship, the experiences, the challenges, the surprises, it all adds up to something that’s almost impossible to find in the day-to-day mundane world we all too often apathetically trudge through. This is the smell of the flowers, the color of the dawn sky, the sound of songs and the feeling of laughter. This is the change we wish to see in the world. So take it with you, wash an extra dish, learn a new tune, start an event, plant a seed, dance in the rain and laugh in the face of adversity. We’re as blessed as blessed can be, so don’t ever forget it. Share your gift with the world. We need it.
Eli “Dr. Bonkers” March