Closer to Fine – Wild Goose 2013
“I’m trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
The best thing you’ve ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously, it’s only life after all”
- Closer to Fine, Indigo Girls
I didn’t know if I could do Wild Goose this year. After Mike informed me at the beginning of the summer that our marriage of 13+ years was over, life was turned upside down. I was in shock. I went into survival mode. I haven’t been able to write and I barely knew how to put into words the turmoil I was going through. The idea of going to the Wild Goose, intended to be our family vacation this year, was overwhelming. I’ve always been a private, reserved person emotionally – which has usually simply been code for not being real. But somehow I knew that I couldn’t go to the Wild Goose this year and not be real. For once, to not refrain from being open and honest and fully myself. It’s just that sort of gathering – raw and dismantling.
Wild Goose has been a place where for the last couple of years I have found hope. Hope for the community that despite not knowing if or what it believes still calls itself the body of Christ, but more importantly hope that a better world is indeed possible. The nature of a festival moves one beyond pretense and comfort, where it is easier to see that there is good at work in the world despite the apathy and ignorance that usually cloud our vision. I caught glimpses of that hope this year, but in all honesty I didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to grasp hold of those glimpses as they flickered by. Everything was simply too close to allow hope and revolution to capture my imagination this year.
I needed something far more basic. I needed the fantastic community of friends I have developed over the past decade, but whom I only get to see maybe once or twice a year at these events. I needed long conversations over beer, late-night dance parties in the mud, and hot-tubbing until the wee small hours of the morning. I needed to laugh and let go enough to be able to see how deeply real and deeply absurd it was to be up on a stage caked in mud fielding questions about how to talk to teens about masturbation and how BDSM challenges the dangers of patriarchy.
And I needed to stand in a field Saturday evening singing along with the Indigo Girls, as loudly as I could, the lyrics to Closer to Fine and discover that I actually meant them.
On Friday I had gathered at the beer tent for one of my favorite Wild Goose traditions – Beer & Hymns. Believers and skeptics join together over beer to sing with that wonderful mix of awe, irony, nostalgia, and anger the classic robust hymns of the Christian tradition. Yet not even with a wistful nostalgia could I join in on singing It is Well with My Soul. Of course it is not well with my soul. And the very lines that “thou hast taught me to say it is well with my soul” represent the very aspects of the faith world that I fear the most these days. I’m done being told what to believe, what to feel, how to act, how to process, how to package things up in meaningless but convenient packages. I’m done parroting the faith equivalent of “I’m fine” just because it is expected of me. That pull to appear to accept that all is well kept me from treating my depression for years. I don’t play that game anymore.
But amidst the community at Wild Goose, I found that while I could not sing It is Well with My Soul, I could sing Closer to Fine.
That despite my tendencies to overthink, overanalyze, internalize, and take everything far too seriously I am able to let go enough to just be. Some days that means be okay, other days, be a complete mess. And that’s okay.
So thank you Wild Goose for letting me dance in a field and realize – “There’s more than one answer to these questions pointing me in crooked line. The less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine.”