As I move throughout each day, each week, each month, each year – I do my best to follow the mantra that Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead stated at the end of the last concert for the band directly to the audience in attendance: “The feeling we have here – remember it, take it home and do some good with it. I’ll leave you with this: Please be kind.” Those final shows, at Chicago’s Soldier Field July 3rd, 4th, and 5th in 2015, were billed as “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of the Grateful Dead.” Coincidentally, I celebrated my 50th birthday a few months later. I livestreamed the July 4th and 5th shows. Later on, I purchased the (HUGE) USB drive of “30 Trips Around the Sun” which is described as “shaped like a gold lightning bolt with the Grateful Dead 50th anniversary logo engraved on the side. The drive includes all of the music from the collection in both FLAC (96/24) and MP3 formats and is an individually numbered limited edition of 1,000 copies.” Its is, by far, the largest USB drive I have ever owned, easily larger than my hand in physical size.
Anyways, focusing on what Mickey stated at the concert, I have always tried my best to follow that mantra – to always be kind. A few years ago, Cat Treadwell provided me with a button that sits on the only makeshift altar that I have. The button states: “Kind But Badass”. It is a constant reminder that my daily life is the only face that some people may ever see of me. Just that one, momentary glimpse. That this one momentary glimpse, this single interaction might be the only chance that those individuals ever have to see someone that is kind to them. They may not see a smiling face for the rest of the day. That this single interaction may the highlight of what is a rather shitty day for them. Whether I like the idea or not, I may be the difference in their day.
I deflect a lot of concepts of positivity away from myself. You’ll read a lot of it here on the blog. I’m not a teacher. I’m not a Priest. I’m no one special. I’ve constantly drawn those perspectives around me, like a warm, comforting blanket that I can wrap around myself. I can wrap that around myself like armor and deflect the praise that I get from others. I do this because I really do believe that I am nobody special. In my reality, I’m just a Druid making his way along his own daily Path. I’m not here to revolutionize Pagan thought. I’m not here to be some Big Name Pagan (BNP) that thrives off the adulation of others. I’ve been to a handful of Pagan conventions over the years – never as a presenter. I’ve been recognized by seven people over those years. Seven total. I’ve never been invited to present at a single event. I don’t fool myself into thinking I’m big shit. I’m just me. No one else.
Nearly every interaction I have had with other Pagans has been cordial. Nearly every discussion I have had with other Pagans, I have tried to steer into how they are doing. Not how I am doing. I wanted them to tell their story. Most of mine is here in the blog. For other people to read. Most of it. Its easy for people to read what I’ve gone through. I want to know what they are going through. I want to hear what they are thinking. If we ever get back to having the conventions again if you encounter me at one and strike up a conversation – just realize that’s where I am going to steer you. If we ever get to the point of having conventions again. And if I ever become gainfully employed again – so I can pay for such things.
For me, everyday interactions are an integral part of my Druidry. Rituals, spellwork, whatever else you can come up with from the more occult aspects – that stuff is ancillary. My Druidry is driven by the interactions that I have. Not just with people. I interact with the plants and animals around me as well. A lot of people wonder if I am daft when I start talking to their pets. I do that to acknowledge their individual presence as well. I talk with small kids. Why? Because interaction is important. It acknowledges one’s presence, as well as placing importance on their moment in that place and time.
Then there are the folks that want to spend that time interacting by discussing politics. When that happens, I tend to shut down and become quiet. Why? Because politics is not about people. Its about political parties. I have no interest in that shit. I grok that there are people who are totally ate up by that crap. I’m just not one of those people. The kindest approach I can utilize there…to just stay quiet and wait to focus on something else with those folks. Should they insist on staying on the approach…I’ll find a moment to politely excuse myself from that discussion and move on.
There are those that will accuse me of not caring enough about others because I try to avoid conflict. That’s not true, however. I see someone being abused in some manner by another – I’m not one to keep quiet about that. I will intervene on someone’s behalf. But for the most part, I do try to mind my own business until a line gets crossed. What line is that? I’m not totally sure, but I know it when I encounter it.
See, Druidry is about interaction with me. Its about experiencing the world around me. That moment on a trail in the woods becomes more than just a place to walk. The sounds of the wind blowing through the leaves and limbs of the tree. The songs the birds sing as they flit from trees to the ground to the sky above. The quiet around me, as I spot a fawn deeper in the woods searching a meal of berries from a bush. Or the sounds of the cars and trucks on the interstate just a little over a mile from the house. Or the sounds of the construction workers building the three houses just on the other side of my backyard fence. Or the sound of Doro Pesch singing “All We Are” though the speakers of my headphones while I type this. All of that, along with the knowledge that if I place myself in the exact same spot, at the exact same time tomorrow…all of those sounds and moments will be there to experience. All so similar, and yet all so different because every moment is unique. All of that comes from a quote from the movie ‘Troy”:
The gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment may be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.Achilles
Druidry, for me, is all of that – and so much more. So many moments, so many experiences that I cannot put into words that would make sense to anyone but me. Each of those experiences circle the idea of being kind to others. Because those moments of kindness are some of the most joyful that we can share with others, especially strangers that we may only see once. In line at the grocery store. Walking on the sidewalk in town. Those encounters have so much more impact than we might realize. A smile. A heartfelt “hello.” Just a simple kindness. An experience, a momentary encounter. That single moment where we are the most beautiful that we will ever be in our lives. That, for me, is the essence of my Druidry.