dyke summer camp

i didn’t take but a handful of pictures this summer at festival – the michigan womyn’s music festival, what many of us who attend/work there every summer refer to as “dyke summer camp.” i guess it’s not all that weird; many years, i go to fest and forget to take pictures. other years, i take hundreds, constantly. but it did strike me as a little odd this year, as i’ve been pretty attached to my camera and documenting everything around me. i certainly went with the intention of taking more pics.

but once i was there, even though i carried the camera around with me almost daily in my messenger bag, i just didn’t think to take it out. maybe it was a good thing; maybe it was a subconscious thing, that i was trying to be more present, in the moment, rather than stepping outside myself or any given situation to be behind the camera, documenting. or maybe i just plain forgot. not sure.

i did have one afternoon, during festival week, when i was working late… i was the last one left in my area, waiting on a workshop in the media tent to finish, and decided to relax in the hammock. every year i have been on the media crew (we show the movies, and attend to workshops that have need for media equipment, i.e. dvd, powerpoint, sound, etc.), we have had a lovely hammock we hang off a very old tree that sits in our “back yard,” our break area. this year, when we arrived, we noticed the limb we usually attach the hammock to was gone. we had to hunt for a new location, which ended up being between two smaller trees right next to the media tent. not exactly in our back yard anymore, but convenient for the media crew to lay in while babysitting media workshops.

whilst laying there, i was gazing up at the leaves and limbs of the trees holding the hammock, swaying in the breeze… just appreciating nature and the great gift that it is every summer i am able to be there, in those woods in michigan, breathing in fresh air, doing very physical work, disconnected from cell phones and laptops and the 24-hour news cycle and all the stresses associated with the outside world. it really is the best self-care i give myself, a few weeks (usually three now but i used to do the five-week longer crew) away from the world to just be, to focus on just whatever is happening in my immediate vacinity. it’s like a recalibrating exercise, one that makes space in my brain to see the big picture by focusing on just my present experience… flushing out all the minutia, the facts, the headlines, the tweets, the status updates, the text messages. allowing my head and my heart (and sometimes my body) to talk to each other a little bit easier.

anyways, that afternoon, as i was laying on the hammock, staring up at the trees, i got the urge to grab my camera and take a few shots. i took a bunch of the trees themselves, like the one below, and then also felt drawn to the rows and rows of colorful flags that were strung between some other trees between the media tent and the workshop tent. the flags had been made in a workshop, i think, and had varying sentiments on them, in the style of prayer flags. it’s interesting to me that i chose to zoom in on one particular flag – seen in the photo at the top of this post – that says “change focus.” i wasn’t really thinking much about it in the moment – it just caught my eye, being yellow and in the center of my field of vision, one of the few flags that was facing me – but now, i feel like it was my cleared and big-picture-thinking brain sending me a message to hopefully be discovered post-festival, when i am back in the world and losing grip on the clarity i always feel i have while i’m there.

change focus. a simple thought, but so hard to do, really, particularly when caught up in the whirlwind of information and activity and deadlines and money and stress of the outside world. but yeah, i think it is time to change focus. and i think i’ve been knowing that for a while and slowly moving in that direction, sometimes without even realizing it.

i still don’t exactly know what it is, what is coming, what is about to happen, what the new focus is. but it’s something. some kind of big change. a big change that i really need. i can’t keep doing things the way i’ve been doing them, cuz it’s not really working for me. i don’t want to keep feeling stuck. i’ve been there before and would prefer not to need some major catastrophe like 9-11 or katrina to happen in order for change to occur. it’d be nice if this time i was in control and made things happen, because i want it and need it and know it and will it.

so yeah. change focus. my two-word summary of my dyke summer camp experience… or i guess what it is that i’m bringing home with me from my experience. oh there was lots of great music, amazing performances, beautiful and mindblowing women, a deeply satisfying and fairly smooth work experience, lots of delicious food, a gorgeous forest, great conversations, interesting movies, strengthening of bonds and community, lots of dirt in my shoes, sweat on my brow (and everywhere else!), the loveliest outdoor showers ever (!), some painful emotions, a good deal of crying, woo to the nth degree, breathtaking fireworks, lots of hugs, and brilliant stars in the sky. and so much more that i’m trying desperately to hang on to for as long as i can.

but thank goddess i took my camera out that one afternoon while swinging in the hammock.