I am not, by nature, a person who seeks out crowds in any form–even for a few hours’ concert or performance. But if the rewards are great enough, I’ll make myself become only for a while a drop in the ocean of humanity for the sake o what I will see, hear, know or think because of my “suffering” in the anonymity and strident buzz of the herd experience.
I will be among some twenty thousand in a bit more than two weeks. And I find myself hopeful some of those strangers will in three weeks have names. I’m hopeful that the 2010 Virginia Festival of the Book will energize me in ways that lesser reader-gatherings have not.
And I’m hopeful that the investment of several days food and lodging will come back to me in returns of inspiration, meaningful conversations, and a better feel for who I am–and who I can become–as a writer.
But there are risks: in small informal groups, I am engaged, outgoing and a good listener. But above a certain density and level of noise, I check out, move towards the edges and go numb with indifference and ennui. It is possible–even likely for me–to be lonely in a crowd.
So I’m having this talk with myself (and sorry, with you) to exhort my shy-quiet self to give way to a man who cannot afford to waste time in isolation when he will be among such a rich audience of readers and authors in Charlottesville this month.
This is a very well-organized event. Check out the web site, and if there’s any possibility you might go, start adding events to your “book bag”, complete with maps to widespread venue locations. Here’s my book bag, I’ll be a busy boy!
And I’ll hope to see one or two of you on March 20, 4 pm at Blue Ridge Mountain Sports where I’ll join two other authors in a Master Naturalists sponsored presentation.