[Bards] Speaking of Dreams and Dreaming

Catrin ferch Maelgwn ladycatrin at gmail.com
Sun Apr 20 17:27:03 PDT 2008

On Sun, Apr 20, 2008 at 1:47 PM, Esther <reese_esther at yahoo.com> wrote:

> I don't know about the rest of you, but I get very little done when I'm
> Dreaming. Dreams by their very nature, are very dreamy things... and
> terribly, terribly idiosyncratic to the individual. Hard to get that kind of
> cohesion in a group that is by its very nature incredibly disparate (1600
> and back covers a LOT of territory, my friends!).
> <snipping lots of accurate commentary>

Lady Emma, I think you have managed to sum up a good deal of what has been
bothering me about my own personal experiences lately.  The lack of cohesion
is just it.

I know that we, as a Kingdom, are a very large and diverse (and yes, in many
ways, a disparate) group of people.  But I have found myself a little
dismayed in just how compartmentalized, how *insular* we can become, within
this larger group.  Perhaps it's just the natural order of things--I know
it's certainly not limited to Ansteorra--but when I go to an event, I am
struck by the fact that so many of us tend to sequester ourselves away in
little groups, and then rarely venture out of them to interact and play.  I
don't mean this as an accusation against anyone, and I know my observations
don't apply universally.  But this is what I see, and what I have seen
almost always since I began playing, but have never been able to describe.

At tourneys, we gather under separate pavilions with our households or
families or local groups, and then spend all day socializing within those
groups.  We all gather together briefly for court, and the fighters interact
with each other, and we may wander a bit to visit the merchants or greet
friends who are seated elsewhere.  But otherwise, there is no ready
motivation for these little disparate groups to mingle with one another.

At longer events, the phenomenon is similar, perhaps even compounded by the
fact that camps are set up at a distance from one another.  It's possible to
spend an entire weekend in your own encampment without ever seeing the folks
just down the road.  And certainly it's enjoyable to spend a weekend camping
with your closest friends, wearing garb and participating in an activity or
two of your choice, but what about all those other people out there?
Wouldn't it enrich everyone's experience if we could all interact a little
further outside our comfort zones?

Honestly, I'm not the most qualified person to be extolling such behavior.
Except when I'm performing, until I know someone well, I tend to be very
shy--as I know that so many do.  I've gotten better, but I still remember
what it was like when I first joined the Society, out in Caid at the age of
sixteen.  My first event was just this side of being a disaster.

I showed up in my substandard garb, without a place to set my chair, not
knowing anybody.  And so nobody talked to me.  I am sure that if I had
really tried, or if any of them knew I was a newcomer, they would have made
welcoming overtures.  But nobody knew, so I sat by myself all day and began
to wonder if I was really cut out for this game.  At my next event, I was
encouraged to try field heralding.  This was slightly better as it gave me
something to do--but the interaction, the human socialization, was still
absent.  Things improved only when I eventually found a household to attach
myself to, and then I happily spent my events enjoying their company and
rarely venturing out.

Yet I often wonder how many people, people who would otherwise become
valuable and enthusiastic Society members, end up slipping through the
proverbial cracks because they don't find a group to take them in, and
therefore don't really have a "place" of their own.  Since moving to
Ansteorra almost three years ago, I have made many good friends among
various households.  And yet, when I am not among these groups, when I make
my solitary way to an event or a meeting, I am frequently stunned by the
sense of *otherness* I feel.  The people around me have their own groups of
friends, and while they are always cordial and kind, I rarely feel
comfortable asking to join them in whatever they are doing.  I do realize
that most of this probably stems from my own introversion, but I also know
that I'm not the only one who may occasionally need some gentle prodding out
of my shell.

I guess the point of all this is that perhaps there are some little things
we can all do to improve life in our beautiful Kingdom.  Perhaps if we
started by just being a little more friendly, a little more open, if we
created situations where more group interaction was encouraged?  I think
part of the magic of that Eisteddfod two years back was that we had a crowd
of people who might not normally hang out together, and suddenly we were all
huddled under a pavilion together, all sharing in the warmth, laughing and
relaxed and enjoying each others' company.  How can we make that happen more
often?  Is it a simple matter of walking around and introducing ourselves,
inviting people to come sit with us and talk and sing and tell stories?

I would love to see more friendships being made, more hospitality being
shared.  I feel like, if we had those things, some of the other things that
seem lacking now might follow of their own accord.  Some of my happiest
moments, those in which my "dream" seem most alive for me, have begun with a
friendly greeting from a stranger on Merchant's Row.

But those are just my thoughts, and I do apologize for the slight hijack.
Thank you all for letting me ramble on so.

In service, and friendship,
Catrin ferch Maelgwn
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