Free Pictures [Telluride Blog Contest]
“Freeeeeeee pictures!!!!!” exclaimed a little girl from under her shade tent, the first word accentuated by an ear-to-ear grin and Emmylou-caliber lungs. We stopped to have a look. “Would you like a picture,” she asked?
I watched Meaghan, wearing a grin to match the young angel’s, kneel down and pick up a drawing of a pink heart with “I LOVE YOU” scribbled inside. I dropped down to join them, stammering for words to describe how sweet that moment was, how much we appreciated the pictures, how special the thought was, and how happy it all made me…but all I managed was “We love you too!” and a high five before we moved on to go have a dance.
Then it hit me.
That moment represented the very essence of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. It was a reminder of the underlying reason we all come back year after year: to connect back to simpler times. We come for the thrill of discovering new people and new cultures and new ideas, and a renewed faith in humanity for having experienced them. We all share common interests in music and nature, of course, but ultimately we come to reinforce that it’s our relations with others that make life extraordinary.
After all, the immediate experience speaks for itself. The collaboration of so many brilliant artists in a place so conducive for connection with the fans naturally produces awe-inspiring performances again and again. The scenery and atmosphere spark the creative forces that well deep within us. The campfire jams allow us to communicate at indescribable levels and share our passions without saying a word. We are freed from distractions and, consciously or unconsciously, we focus solely on the present moment. We share our bare selves with one another. Thus, as much fun as we have, as many laughs as we share, as content as we are to be in such a paradise, the fundamental experience is love.
Tim O’Brien once said, “One of the things about art is you give people an excuse to take some time, to be quiet, and pay attention to something, and maybe under the guise of enjoyment, think about the important things in life.” What could be more important than the many manifestations of love? Through generosity and patience, we give unconditionally and constantly brighten the lives of others. Through forgiveness and compromise, we set our differences aside for the greater good. Through tolerance and compassion, we find common ground and a basis for peace. We come to Telluride from all walks of life to rekindle the fires of brotherhood and sisterhood, to bask in peaceful serenity, and exchange our metaphorical pink “I LOVE YOU” hearts.
Most importantly, we can return to our daily lives confident that it doesn’t matter what you do in life…all that matters is how and why you do it. If we live our lives with the intention of fostering love and peace, we stay calm, and we take a genuine interest in the people we encounter, every day is a new adventure. What if we automatically assume the best in people, despite their appearance or background or beliefs? What if we offer our homes and ourselves to people in order to learn about each other rather than to make some extra cash? What if every moment of our lives was its own reality, independent from time and full of beauty and potential?
I’d say we’d all be pretty content with ourselves and each other…and dare I say, that’s when we’d start to learn and fully experience the brilliance of humanity.
Here’s to it, my friends.