Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mindful Mindlessness

                My little town is having a brewfest this weekend.  This is most certainly not an exercise in mindfulness.  There are over a hundred beers available for sampling, made by the finest craft brewers in five states. People are dressed in their best, seeing and being seen, and the music is an almost tangible presence in the huge, dark room at the Hilton hotel.
There are lots of people here I know, and it’s easy to meet the ones I don’t.  There is also an unspoken permission here to just let go and have fun.  Near the music stage, there’s a mass of humanity, moving to the music.  They move like a school of fish, all together.  You can step into it at any time, and become a part of the movement, lose yourself, come back out, talk, go outside, come back in.
            And the collective presence of all those people welcomes you.  This kind of letting go is a kind healing in itself, I’ve come to believe.  If you give yourself to a setting like this, all the pieces of yourself that make you struggle fall away for a time.  In effect, you get to take a rest from being you, and that can be a very restful thing indeed.
            Or maybe what’s really happening is that we are unreservedly ourselves in a setting like this.  However you decide to think about it, it leaves you with a sense of renewal.  Connections with people you know are celebrated and deepened, and new ones can be made.
            Now the music has shuddered to a halt and the event organizer is on stage with the musician, thanking everyone and making last call.  The lights come up a little, people gather their souvenir glasses and start to talk about rides and stay-overs.
            Outside, the air is fresh and the streets are empty.  And now I can come to mindfulness.  Mindfulness of this moment in my life when I feel like I’m at home in the world.

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