I’ve been spending my summer doing something extraordinary. It’s something I once, long ago, set out to do and it is also something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s worth noting those things can be different, but not in this case. It’s not that I necessarily always wanted to act in a Renaissance Faire, more importantly, it’s that I wanted to make people laugh, engage them and share. That’s why I started my adulthood as a theater person. I was heavily invested in it, won scholarships and schooling for it, and dropped the notion very quickly.
I left because I didn’t understand the people. I didn’t know myself well enough to be as self-confident as them, but I was living in my head, second guessing everything.
What’s happened to me this summer is I’ve learned to live OUTSIDE my head. I’ve gotten bold enough to do what I feel and found out, I often feel good things and do good things and people appreciate it more than you’d ever guess.
The simplest things, like paying attention when someone speaks, actively listening, smiling broadly… even just saying hello to someone who thinks they’re invisible…these things don’t affect the people outside of you as much as they mold and shape you! I’m sociology in action! I’ve figured out that it’s not that the more I give out, the more I get back. It’s that the more I give out, the more I am, period.
We all rally around two porcupines (also called porpentines in the time of Queen Elizabeth) who share space with us through the courtesy of the Jo-Don Petting Farm in Franksville. Pork Chop, older brother to Beans, is the original and has become a mascot for the Faire. Everyone loves him and I have come to know his owner, Master Jason, simply through him and the other animals as a connector. We only ever see each other in costume, in bad accents, among screaming children and other costumed performers. But he talks about how the animals live and I listen. I ask endless questions and he is patient. We share the patrons who come between us and both take turns teaching them about the animals. I’m a regular at Jason’s petting booth.
Through a long and disasterous series of events that could cause me to lose faith in humanity–what faith I may have had left–Pork Chop had to be put down. I don’t know Jason but through this amazing animal, but when I walked to him the day I learned the news, he knew why I was there. When I told him I wanted to give him a hug, he hung on for dear life. When I asked the story, he retold it gently, with honesty, and without the malice I was feeling for the people involved. Jason called Pork Chop a mascot. He was right in saying there wouldn’t be another like him, but I was so moved by my tiny interaction with this one person, that I call Pork Chop wise.
There was a lesson in us sharing grief over him. You can make a connection with any person at any time over any reason. Nothing is too big or too small to feel close to a person about. I think we forget how bonded we are. We are so tethered to one another through social media, pings, texts, geo-location games and more that we no longer connect at real levels. The once simple task suddenly seems daunting.
I’ve learned this summer as I meet people who so willingly tell me their amazing stories and share their free time with me, that real connections are so simple. We just tend to avoid them. We get self-conscious about how we act or sound. Was that right to say? Do I look alright? Do I sound stupid? I don’t know her well enough to offer her comfort… Should I hug them? What if they’re not “hug” people?
I’ve learned, through the wisdom of a porcupine, that we’re all hug people. We all want to connect, and it’s safe to say so and do so, whenever you’re so moved. You’ll find it’s more appreciated than you know and that it will make you much more than you are now.
Feminist, activist, outdoor advocate, animal lover, chocolate shake lover, reader, watcher, talker, actor, speaker, worker, writer, urban adventurer, hustler, involved, passionate, excited, ready.