Thursday, June 27, 2013

'Twas the Night Before the Frendly Gathering....

After our morning yoga and a little work, I leave Timber Ridge around noon each day, and each day it is a little bit different. Today, the day before the Frendly Gathering, this place is wild with energy, color, bodies and movement. Everyone has a place to be, a tool to wield, an area to clean or decorate or transform for festivity.

Drinks are piled into coolers and bins for the volunteer staff, and vendors start rolling in, their bright wares swinging from hooks and shelves in vans, or stuffed into hatchbacks. Tents are being erected left and right, and the sound crew arrives to start preparing for the parade of bands that will grace these stages starting with the pre-party tonight.

The Burton crew is busy preparing their ‘lodge,’ which looks like a teepee with two long awnings sprawling away from its central structure. Camera crews move among the workers, documenting each interaction Jack and Danny have: someone needs a screw gun over at the skate ramp. Did the Beats Antique merchandise arrive? Where is the yellow tape measure? That toilet in the men’s bathroom is clogged again. It’s less than glamorous, to say the least.

And yet, Jack and Danny thrive on it. This is their karma, it seems, the work that they offer up to the world to create this amazing three-day festival. Gray clouds, swollen with rain, threaten to open themselves and dowse us all, as they have every day, but never mind. There are things to do. “Everything’s better with mud,” someone quips cheerfully. Jack tugs at the hair protruding from beneath his hat and reminds himself to breathe. It’s stressful, running all this, and he and Danny have watched this thing double each year. Anticipating over 2,000 festival-goers this time around, they bolster themselves for numbers but not chaos.

The Frendly Gathering is just that: it’s Frendly. More and more people are coming to understand exactly what that means. The adjective “Frendly” denotes anything that cultivates a positive, peaceful, nonjudgmental exchange among people. That exchange involves mutual respect and revelry in equal parts, and in my experience over these past three years, it just might be a magic combination. “The boys” work tirelessly, as do their female counterparts in charge of every administrative detail, and each night they play. Hard.

And in the morning, as the sun begins to warm the hill that is the backdrop for the Frendly Gathering, they face that hill and do a little yoga. Their commitment to mindfulness and entering each day with positivity and intention is evident in the discipline they have to show up here on their mats first thing every morning. They choose yoga over an extra hour of much needed sleep, and I watch the tension and the sleep, still tangled in their hair, unravel and spill away from them with each asana, each “long, slow exhalation.” Their bodies uncoil from their couple of hours of restless sleep and open into the Frendly vibe that gave rise to this whole thing in the first place. As they move, stretch, balance, they remember. It is good.

“The day has been officially launched,” is the closing comment that someone always makes, Jack or Danny or Luke, and it’s true. From there we flow out onto the landscape of Timber Ridge and engage in the karma that will yield an entire festival of this Frendly feeling.

Everyone will feel it, for sure, because it comes from such a real place. These guys are the real deal, and the people they have garnered to them to help launch this thing, they’re the real deal, too. I am honored to be even a small part of this thing and to watch as it grows…to birth not just a three-day party, which it certainly is, but also a movement. The Frendly Movement.

Smile. Breathe. Connect. Hug someone. As one walks through the archway from the Main Stage area up toward the Woods Stage and the mini-ramp, they are reminded to do all of these things. Each Frendly action is prompted by a hand-painted sign that punctuates the colorful field of feathers and mobiles hanging from above. This ornate archway framed by branches ushers one into the next enchanted realm of the Frendly space….in the direction of the VewDew Board demos, Wellfleet oysters, the Frendly skate ramp and yes, the DJ Nest. Ah. It’s time.

The Frendly Gathering is about to be launched.  I’ll see you at Timber Ridge, Frends!

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