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  • “The best way out is always through.”
    ~Robert Frost

    This weekend Kaspa & I were at our first (mega-muddy) Buddhafield festival in Devon. We were there representing our Buddhist Order and had been invited to join the Dharma Parlour team in place of our colleague Modgala.

    I always feel wobbly in new groups. I want strangers to know how brilliant I am, to feel that I am contributing something valuable, & to love me. I can wait around five minutes for this to happen.

    This can be challenging if they have already known each other for many years, or don't really need anything, or are human beings.

    Despite the team's warm welcome, as the day went on I felt increasingly 'new'. I was the only one who didn't know what I was doing. I felt guilty about getting into the festival for free & then not 'earning my keep'. I felt unimportant and useless.

    Things came to a head on Saturday when we sat in our first workshop on mindful writing and nobody came.

    I knew this was probably because we hadn't advertised it in the right place, but it still left me on the edge of tears. We walked through a patch of woodland and tried to make sense of what was happening and why I was feeling the way I did.

    I had a cry and considered running away home. I sat with the feelings of rejection and uselessness. Something gradually shifted. (A Buddhist festival is a good place to face the size & particular audaciousness of your ego.)

    I decided to share how I felt with the organiser. I lowered my expectations of myself and of how quickly we would become 'useful'. And we went back to our team campfire.

    One of the team painted my face with luminous yellow & pink dots. I made another a cup of tea and chatted about the mud. Another three of us shared terrible jokes that night around the fire. I attended my first puja with another. Another gave me his crazy hat to wear as a kind of 'crazy-hat prescription'.

    The next morning, as I sat round with the same group of strangers at our daily 'check-in', I saw that they weren't strangers any more. I shared my crisis of the day before. They listened. That afternoon we had another workshop and twenty people came. We enjoyed it. It went well. I was deeply grateful.

    The best way out is through. I wish it wasn't. But if you don't go through, you'll just end up at the same gate again before too long.

    Take the first step. Ask someone to hold your hand. You'll be at the other side before you know it.


    'Underfoot' by MrGiles
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