Jun 18, 2009

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Roo Too — The Kindness of strangers.

So, I’ve had a chance to get some sleep and can now put together a few coherent sentences.  Here’s the thing about doing something like Bonaroo.  Vacations are nice, you relax a little bit, get pampered and feel good but there is something medicinal about music.  You can’t help but come away feeling exhilarated. Which I was and still am.   I used to feel that way from week long white water rafting trips or after taking a trek to some remote mountain.

This served as a nice wake up call for me, getting older does not mean getting safer and being safe all the time.  I went into the festival feeling a little nervous.  It had been 30 years since I did the 100,000 plus people in the mud thing and more to the point I now had MS and the notion of getting around a 700 acre farm appeared daunting.  Fortunately there have been two rather key initiatives that have taken hold since my last experience with a festival.

The first is the recognition that people will pay to be comfortable.  While my 20 year nephew and his friends were content to pay $300 to camp in Gen Pop and go without showers and wait on line for the porta potties, I had the VIP option for another $400 I got a segregated campground, with private showers, air conditioned, paneled and cleaned twice daily bathrooms.  An air conditioned lounge with couches, internet, and masseuses on call. Preferred seating and our own entrance onto the main grounds where security is clearly less of an issue.  Now I know that seems to create a class system and aren’t these things supposed to be about “we are all equal?”  But the truth is having a VIP package makes this accessible to people who otherwise would forego the experience.  It allowed me to periodically rub shoulders with some young bucks and to hang and pass the pipe and treat them as peers knowing full well that when they opted to grass in a filed at 4 am after Nine Inch Nails, I’d already be at least tow hours into my sleep in the solitude of my VIP enclave.  Here’s a link that offers a taste of the transition over to VIP. http://community.bonnaroo.com/_Best-Camping-Spot-09/video/691176/12058.html


The second initiative is the push to make these things accessible to the handicapped.  Once my ego bit the bullet and I allowed myself to admit I had physical challenges walking, I rented a scooter that made zipping about the grounds fairly easy.  I was a little blown away by how willing people were to offer assistance.  They had special seating platforms for folks with medical issues.  All I had to do was tool up with my scooter it was like the parting of the Red Sea.  I will admit there was a lot of guilt tied to the fact that this was so easy for me but I only need to go through the struggles of setting up a tent or getting to a bathroom on time to realize I had enough challenges facing me already.  There actually were a few times I teared up with tears of joy when I realized I could do this.  I seriously had my doubts, especially on Thursday night when we were hit with a massive rainstorm.

They even hand women who were there to do sign language for the hearing impaired.  I guess being deaf you can feel the music but there was a cool dynamic to watching how passionately these women interpreted the lyrics into sign language.

So now that I have acknowledged how grateful I am for the ease at which the folks at Bonaroo made my experience let the pragmatist in me question whether it is really worth it to devote so many resources to a select few?  It is a question I am still struggling with.  It takes a lot of effort to take care of someone who has trouble taking care of themselves.  I guess in a utopian society it is something we would all do gladly.  I guess it is something I unknowingly do all the time I that I am forever offering insight, wisdom and often money to those in need but I never think twice about it.  However, being on the receiving end has lead me to question the largesse.  I think that is called guilt and the “I’m not worthy” syndrome.  It is new to me.  Now I understand the saying “it is better to give than receive.”






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