Friday, September 25, 2009

The Simple Life.

I don't want to forget my visit to the Lyons Fiddle Fest last weekend. There are many times when I wonder if I was born in the wrong era, in the wrong culture. There is this simple side of life that greatly appeals to me, a world in which money and materials are not necessary for happiness.

And something about the Lyons Fiddle Fest reminded me of the belief that I think I would've been happy had I been born before technology, before television, before inventions that all too often distract us from what is truly important, what truly can make us happy.

So on Sunday, we paid a $1 donation to go into the bucolic Berks County park, which sits across the street from where a tornado ripped through the town of 500 people a few years back, damaging a long row of homes that would later be fixed by the gracious Mennonites. Simple people in a complicated and complex world.

A lot of folks at the festival, I believe, subscribe to similar philosophies of life. Their tenets, akin to many of mine.

More than a hundred musicians of all abilities strolled through the park, falling into impromptu jams of guitar, mandolin, banjo, violin, lute, finger board. Strumming, plucking, stringing. Acoustic patterns woven together by a passion for melody. You walked around with a homemade turkey barbecue and freshly made birch beer, watching Kutztown professors, retired farmers, factory workers from the battery plant, blue-collar, white-collar--all had come together to form small bands for five to ten minutes. They nodded, they challenged, they laughed. And man, did they groove. People tapping feet, slapping thighs, nodding heads to the rhythm beneath the trees where destruction once brought a town to tears, to its lowest point.

It reminded me that we all suffer on various levels at some point. We need to regroup, refocus, rebuild to become stronger, more resilient to the things and people that let us down, that break our spirit.

And so here was the town, supported by people from way beyond the Berks border, to see the modern world step back a bit and make room for an untainted slice of heaven. A community that has come together as one, that has healed from something that nearly shattered its roots. As long as I have access to culture, unprocessed food, good running shoes, and people who love me, I shall be happy--as long as I can be at peace with myself. I know I've cleared most of the hurdles placed before me. Most.

Aside: Ron Devlin, a most talented writer and mentor to me (although I've never told him so), insisted some dozen years ago that I go to the Fiddle Fest. I remember leaning over the wall of his blue-carpeted cubicle in the newsroom, chuckling as Devlin would ruminate about how he relished this gem. Chances are he was holding a cup of coffee and leaning back in a red chair while wearing a patterned shirt with a corduroy jacket that had patches on the elbows. I didn't quite get it then. I thought I did. But I get it now. I do. I really do. Sometimes I'm a slow learner...

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