There’s no denying we live in “interesting times.” Persnickety, polarized, poutragey, partisan times. Particularly for those of us who swim in the political blogosphere and remain fairly immersed in all of the hot takes and bickering, it can be wearying and disheartening.
We’re used to Political Thunderdome, though — even if it’s angst-producing, we find cold comfort in its familiarity. We forget not everyone spends every minute of their day living, breathing, consuming (and emitting) toxic political smog.
Last weekend, I had the great good fortune of stepping outside this particular bubble. That wasn’t the intent of my foray — just a happy by-product of it. The beau and I had tickets to the Roots ‘n Blues ‘n BBQ Festival in Columbia, Missouri. (Home of the Missouri Tigers; also my undergrad alma mater.)
The big draw for us this year was the combination of both The Avett Brothers and The Mavericks (headlining Friday and Saturday evenings, respectively.) The Avett Brothers are my absolute favorite band and, having seen Raul Malo and The Mavericks earlier this summer, I was excited to see the two acts back-to-back. Neither disappointed.
There’s a double-edged sword to attending large events like this festival — cell phone service can be spotty. (I assume that’s a function of traffic/usage, but maybe the festival grounds were just in a random dead zone.) That’s not so great when you’re intent on communicating with your kids and/or posting pics to social media. But it’s a delightful forced Time Out from the political maelstrom. And after the past few weeks, that was welcome.
So I spent much of the weekend, blissfully (somewhat) unaware of the headlines and hot takes. Oh, there was a political t-shirt or two among the crowd. (I saw a “Moms Demand Action” tee and a “Girls Support Girls” tee – which I read as subtle commentary on the Kavanaugh saga.) But there, in the middle of “flyover country,” in a red state that leaned heavily Trump in 2016, in a college town that leans left (and garnered a bit of a snowflakey reputation a couple years back), no one was arguing over SCOTUS nominations or the upcoming mid-terms or expressing the outrage which pervades social media.
A diverse (in age, ethnicity, orientation, style, and — undoubtedly — politics) group of people were gathered in a park to eat, drink, and listen to some music. And it was just shy of Heaven.
A lyric from one of the songs performed by The Avett Brothers stood out to me:
There’s a darkness upon me that’s flooded in light
In the fine print they tell me what’s wrong and what’s right
And it comes in black and it comes in white
And I’m frightened by those that don’t see it
When nothing is owed or deserved or expected
And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected
If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected
Decide what to be and go be it
There was no sign of the tension, angst, or animosity which flourishes online (and often spills over to “real life” anymore.) There weren’t tribes or battle lines.
People were just there being people. Enjoying their friends and family. Sampling tasty food ranging from roasted pig to fish tacos to funnel cakes and ice cream. Enjoying some beer (domestic and craft) without worry as to whether it threatened their future SCOTUS aspirations. Soaking in some sun and cool evening air, dancing and singing along with artists soulful and lively.
And I thought to myself, “We’re fine.” If we can just remember to take a breath every once in awhile and acknowledge the blessings around us, we will be.
Follow Susie on Twitter @SmoosieQ