Until I faced the death of someone who was a part of the fabric of my life,I thought I understood the impact of a death. I had lost my great-grandmother and my granpa, a childhood friend died from a drug overdose when we were 21. I knew what death and grief looked like, it was just a part of life. I did not understand the impact of a death. I didn't understand it until I did.
Everytime someone dies, there's at least one person, more likely a few people, whose lives will never, ever be OK without that person. There's grieving, there's healing, there's even gifts of strength and knowledge from the death of someone dear to us. But it is never OK that they are not here. Ever.
We had some celebrity deaths this week, it's true. It's sad when people who are a part of our culture and entertained us into happy little moments in our life are gone. These were young folks, too young to die. We need to know why. It is understandable. But the constant flux of media coverage cheapens the experience of those few people who will never be OK without that person. The nation doesn't really "grieve". The mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and children and best friends grieve.
I'd like to think that we can respectfully hold a place of quiet and reserve for our own sadness and even greater place for those who truly grieve these losses. That we can celebrate a person's life without engaging in hero worship. I'm not insensitive to the need for the public to hear these stories and express their sadness, I would just hate for people to miss the point. I don't pretend to know what all of the points are but when I step away from the noise, a few come to mind:
-untreated mental illness is scary,real and sometimes fatal
-celebrities are actual people
-sufferring is real
-love your friends and family fiercely
-be nice, smile more
-take good care of yourself
Feel free to add your own.
Monday, June 29
Tuesday, June 16
I am not a festival girl. I don't like hippie scenes. I like to sleep in a bed. Even the word Bonnaroo bugs me a little. These are just a few of the reasons I would not be a likely bonnarooer. The Beastie Boys and a promise of bathrooms & showers in VIP camping made me a wary attendee. I had the best possible guide, my friend Scott, who is a Bonnaroo veteran. He told me scary stories about camping on the other side of the wall and even took me for a stroll down to the shakedown. We camped in style (he had all the gear, I made us some tasty treats) and we had the nicest neighbors. The weather held out and he gently reminded me to pace myself. Uh, yeah. Approximately 2 hours after we arrived the YYY's played; Then a little TVOTR and then my beloved Beastie Boys, who did not disappoint. I danced my ass off and smiled until my face hurt. I went to go explore on my own and take a little rest during the Phish show, because, well ...I don't like Phish. Then Public Enemy pretty much blew my mind by playing the entire It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back album and then kept it going for another hour. How can you pace yourself? I was so excited at 3am I thought that I wouldn't be able to sleep.
On Saturday we slept in and hung around camp until 3 and headed up to the main stage to see Rodrigo Y Gabriela, who are brilliant, intense and beautiful. Scott introduced me to them about a week ago, and knowing his love of jam bands, I was afraid. But R & G are probably two of the most amazing musicians I have heard in a long time. I headed off on my own to hear Jenny Lewis. Jenny was great and a girl at the show passed out from heat exhaustion and layed on my bamboo mat for awhile. I was standing under my umbrella, wearing 70 sunscreen and drinking plenty of water. We met up with some friends and listened to Wilco, then the Mars Volta rocked our faces off before we headed back to camp to rest up and eat dinner before Bruce. My head was really hurting (I forgot decongestant) and I had not paced myself. I was exhausted. I was at the tired and pitiful 6-year old stage with a full-on tantrum in effect and poor Scott didn't know what to do with me. Bless his heart. Apparently, what I needed was to sleep for 11 hours straight. Right through Bruce, the insanely loud NIN set and 4 hours of moe. I did have some very interesting nearly-awake dreams.
Sunday morning I felt like a new woman, with just a little regret over missing NIN. Here's the thing though, you just can't see everybody you want: You get tired; You have to choose between three great shows; And sometimes, you just like where you are at that moment and you don't want to move. For example, I had every intention of enjoying Band of Horses and Andrew Bird on Sunday. But instead I saw Erikah Badu, because I wanted to shake my ass and my hoop. And then, we listened to Snoop Dogg while we took down the tent and had a "bring you leftovers" cookout with our camping neighbors (which turned out to be the best meal of the weekend). There was only one thing going on Sunday evening, Phish. Now, I don't hate Phish. I just don't get it. But, I really wanted to participate and enjoy. While watching the crowd, I can't help but think of Dave Chappelle's White People Can't Dance bit. It's OK that I am giggling to myself because most of the people around me are very, very high. It was close quarters where we were and I wanted to go play with my glow hoop on the edges of the crowd and I also still needed to get my brother a t-shirt, so I headed across the field to Centeroo. I discovered that Phish is very fun to hoop to. I normally hoop to booty-shaking music, but I could do lots of flowy, smooth hooping to Phish. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the shirt store they were packing up. My brother was dog-sitting for me and I said I would bring him a YYY's shirt. Crap. I looked around at the vendors that were still open with a weary heart; my brother was not into any of this hippie-hemp-tie-dye-schwag. Then I found Mexican Chocolate, or as I saw it, manna from heaven. I got him a beautiful Death Cab poster and one of their signature shirts. On my way back to camp to keep the poster safe from dirty hippies, I thought I would stop at the VIP schwag booth and beg for an extra t-shirt for my brother. No begging needed: door open, boxes of extra shirts, knocking and yelling, nobody home. Little brother got an official VIP shirt. Then I found Scott in the crowd and made it until the end of the show (did I mention that Phish shows are very, very long?).
I may have been a wary attendee in the beginning but by day two I was yelling Bonnaroo-hoo with everybody else and I might even consider going again next year. Sometimes I surprise myself.
Monday, June 1
I have had a few breaks in the saga of too much work. My sweet friend Keme came from San Francisco to Tennessee for her Daddy's birthday. We had a little city-fun with friends in Nashville before heading out to Charlotte on Saturday. Keme's daddy, Charlie Bonnett (who I wrote about here), has a little junk store in Van Leer, TN and he likes to say "well...I'm just country". He's one of my favorite people. It was nice to stop thinking about knowledge management, campaigns and best practices and have dinner at the Tri-County Farmer, where there was live bluegrass and all the fried okra you can eat. The only decisions were sweet or un-sweet? white gravy or brown gravy? Keme's momma got us up to date on all the gossip and I made room for cobbler.