Slowing Down with the Edmonton Folk Music Festival

Banana at her first Folk Fest

I admit that I have been trained in the school of ROI (Return On Investment, for the non-business folk). As much as I theoretically oppose such a focus on measuring inputs and outputs, I have a hard time shaking the mindset. At what point do I look at my life and acknowledge that a slower lifestyle is paying off? Are we to be happier? Calmer? Smiling more? Feeling healthier?

I had a glimpse into these questions this past weekend…

Each year we attend the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. This was my 12th Folk Fest, the Bear’s fifth, and Banana’s first. MJ and I know all the rituals and strategies. We know not to fill our water bottles until we get inside the gates or else we end up hauling water during the 20 minute hike to the festival hill (there’s no parking on site). We know the pros and cons of arriving each day at 6:00 a.m. to be one of the first to claim that elusive perfect spot on the hill with an 8×10 tarp. Over the years we have learned to be at Stage 4 after lunch since that is where we’ll find the best shade during the heat of the day. And we know that the worst line-ups for the port-a-potties are the ones by the beer gardens.

Despite our accrued knowledge of this awesome event, I haven’t really enjoyed the festival over the last few years. I attributed the cause to dragging around a baby or toddler, or because I was pregnant, or because I was grieving for my childless days with a few hours in the beer garden. But something hit home on Thursday night during Gord Downie’s performance. “Do you want to see something disappear?” he asked the audience, “This moment is disappearing. Are you trying to capture this? It can’t be captured.” He may have been directing his comments to the hoards of IPhones filming him or being used to connect with friends who had just arrived at the gates. But I think he was also sending a plea to the audience to just experience the evening. Not in a ‘seize the moment’ kind of way that tends to send people into some sort of frenzy, but in a ‘just relax and listen’ kind of way.

I was experiencing the evening. I wasn’t dwelling on the schedule for the next day, or worrying about whether the Bear had enough sunscreen on, or discussing strategy for getting a better spot with our tarp the next day. I was simply sitting on a hill listening to music. I don’t think that I have really done that for several years.

And with that mindset, MJ and embarked on our least stressful Folk Fest yet. We didn’t worry about what time we got to the hill. We made a point of seeing what we could see and not worry about missing anything. We didn’t spend our usual 16-hour day at the festival site. And we enjoyed ourselves.

This was my first inking that our efforts to slow down may actually be having an impact. We were okay seeing the weekend disappear because we were genuinely experiencing it.


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  1. 1 Slowing Down with the Edmonton Folk Music Festival « Tortoise on … | Trackback on August 10, 2010 at 6:52 pm

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