Queuing is wonderful. I stood in the queue for the hot shower, and got chatting to a woman who had just arrived the night before. She will check out the twelve-step tent later. I tell her how unsatisfying I find alcohol, and she said it’s not giving up, because there is nothing to give up– it is embracing sobriety. Next day by the cold shower I found myself discussing original sin and Bishop Berkeley’s Idealism.
-You know, Bishop Berkeley, the Idealist philosopher?
I quoted Boswell. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it — “I refute it thus.”
Except actually, I said, “Didn’t Dr Johnson say he would refute Berkeley by kicking his backside, or something?” Oh well. I imagine someone being irritated by Doctor Who fans talking of The Doctor, and meaning an alien.
In that cold shower, in the shade at 8am, I went in thinking it would be difficult and resisting, tensing up, and then I consciously relaxed: yes it is cold, but not more than I can bear. Staying in long enough to rinse properly became much easier. Or in that workshop. What do you sense now? I sense my thigh telling me that sitting on the ground in this posture is uncomfortable, and it is OK now but not bearable indefinitely. Relax into the pose. It is OK. Oh, that workshop was heart-opening, moving in the tent to the promptings of emotions and sensations.
This is something I have noticed- relax into the pose, relax into the difficult situation, and would like to notice more. Relax into the human encounter? Yes, oh, yes- yet that is far more complex. “What do you sense now?” I sense the beauty of the man I am paired with, I smile.
I am a little embarrassed, cleaning my teeth, spitting into the long grass at the edge of the site. What if everyone did that? thunders my Inner Critic. Well, I am not walking all the way to the single handwash-basin by the loos. So when a man passes from the tents under the trees I flinch away, ready for an argument about it. “Hello,” he says, then notices my attitude- “Oh, you’re cleaning your teeth-” perhaps anyone would not want disturbed at ablutions. I notice it is the beautiful man from that exercise, and am abashed at my confrontational attitude. Yet I am nervous of human encounters, expecting judgment: like a puppy, wanting to play but expecting a kick.
Breakfast again. Oh, it’s Paul! I go over for a hug. I have not seen him since March last year, and it was his suggestion of the Cuddle Workshop that got me into camping at, well, this sort of thing in the widest sense, anything even vaguely hippyish. And if you go to this sort of thing you will meet lots of people you have met at this sort of thing before. I had a longer conversation with R, of queer sensibilities and her experience of herself as queer even though she is in a relationship with a man. He finds her inner male a bit frightening.