by Jon Sullivan - 2024-07-02 - Status

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A year ago I went to a party that changed who I am and how I live. I went again this year.

Every year my Oregon friends throw a party in the woods. Music, food, fires, friends old and new. This year it was, again, one of the best weekends of my life.

My post from last year talks about the existential shock I got. But I didn't say much about what exactly happened or why it was so transformational. When I wrote it I was still trying to answer that question myself. And in the year since I've been working it out, bit by bit. Trying to learn the things I didn't know. In the many years before I'd been living alone, in the dark, meditating on who I was and who I wanted to be and what my best life might look like. But those years of introspection and study were just the catalyst I needed to finally leave my cave and chase adventure. The party last year opened up a whole new world to me. And I can sum up why it was so transformational like this - Before the party I knew being alone was best, and after I knew that was completely wrong. Community, tribe, gathering, sharing. Those were the things that could actually heal the broken parts of me that being a hermit only avoided. To live my best life I needed to be more social and less self absorbed. More we and less me.

For sure, Jon will always have a hermit phase. I am still more of a hermit who often will sally forth.

Anyway..... Getting back to the party this year.

This year I arrived with a new understanding. I loved all of these people. And they all loved me. I now knew the difference between Stoic happiness and hippie happiness. I now knew how to hug people. I'd learned the economics of balancing self-interest and interdependence. This time I knew what tribe meant, and how "peace, light, love, joy" could heal us. I knew to really listen, fully. And if last year had been all about "light" for me, this year was all about "love".

About 45 years ago, in high school, I fell in love with a wonderful woman. Eventually we went our separate ways, but I've always loved her, and always hoped she was happy. For most of my life my selfish inward focus has often meant that the only real humanity I had was my hope that she was happy. Every day I've hoped she was happy. I couldn't give her the happiness she deserved, and I prayed others could. Maybe that's weird. Maybe I was weird.

At this year's party I saw her playing games on the lawn with her grandkids. And she was happy. And I saw the love in her. It radiated. It was palpable. And it was all I could have ever wanted in all of those decades, all of those prayers. So much love. It filled me beyond my understanding and capacity. It was 45 years of prayers answered and made whole. 45 years of prayers made dim before the bright light of her love. I don't need to hope anymore. It is done, real, true.

I am endlessly grateful to tribe and James and everyone. You have given me the thing I've wanted most my whole life. Thank you. Know that you've made me very very happy, and given me a comfort I could never reach on my own. I come away from closing circle feeling so much love for you all, and so much love you have for me. You have given this old man something he's needed for so long.

Today's photo : At this year's gathering someone special gave me a gift of fresh garlic. She also shelled some fresh peas and let me steal a few. Fresh peas and garlic are two things I haven't had since I was a child. It was a simple gift that brought back many happy memories. And it was another lesson about love. Love can be radiant and fill your entire being. Or love can be simple and fit in your palm. I'll be making something wonderful with this garlic. And one of the ingredients will be love.

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