Wise woman of Clare, did you have fans? People who travelled across the country to seek you out? Or perhaps half way across the planet? I know people travelled to seek your advice, healing and help.
This week I have learnt about being a fan.
At close quarters I witnessed what it means to be a villager (someone who follows Russell Crowe on twitter). And that learning connected me to a talented team of graphic novel makers. I watched at very close quarters how fans try to get backstage to meet their idols and share the same space. My fellow pilgrim and I waltzed past groupies who had been trying night after night with ease, at the clear direction of bouncer and troubadour.
I found myself being described as a fan and was attracted like an industrial strength magnet to grab one last ticket to complete the quartet of concerts. It was quite exciting and I was thoroughly entertained by this new quality I was discovering in myself. I made some dismissive remarks about people who had travelled from the other side of the ocean to see their idol – even though I had travelled across the country to get a whiff again of the sound and spirit of two young men. Ah another contradiction revealed when criticism finds its way to my thoughts!
With the rest of the audiences, I enjoyed the unique contribution to the Crowe-Doyle collection these wonderful young men brought to the Indoor Garden Party Concerts. I was surprised and delighted with their generosity of giving us a backstage experience. An unexpected invitation to glimpse their behind the scenes lives. I was touched with the offer of a drink, an offer of a conversation, and an offer to go deeper in friendship.
I love the notions of ‘behind the scenes” and “back stage”. What is hidden from the throng, is a safe haven for pre and post maintenance for a performer. To be invited to share that space is an invitation to intimacy and not to be abused (so there is no photographic evidence of me and the superstars so you will have to trust me Biddy on that one!).
I have taken note of how rarely I invite people to come behind the scenes with me. For me to extend such an invitation is usually a sign of deep friendship or a moment of a pre-meditated inoculation strategy. Vulnerability figuring in both invitations. Our invitation had been generous, uncomplicated and pure kindness – a sign of appreciation of our efforts or maybe to demonstrate perhaps to the elders that they too had fans?
At school when I wasn’t performing in a show, I found myself very happily in the role of stage manager, conducting all the traffic ensuring all arrived at a safe harbour not distracted along the way into a performance and then steered to a place after the show to relax and take stock of what had happened on stage. Sharing the joy and the imperfections in the sanctity of backstage and not to be shared with others who hadn’t been through the process as the stage itself was its own cup and its contents unable to be sipped by those who had just watched. So to be invited backstage is a great honour. It is a recognition of the cross over from fan to friend – from audience to participant – and having a little taste of sharing the stage.
I want so much for these young men to be brought to a larger audience, so more people like me can experience their talents, humour, goodness and humility. I am therefore grateful to the big stars who invited them along for that opportunity. A master class too I am sure for the young men from the older ones in what it means to be on stage, backstage and to have fans and friends. I am trusting that as the days and nights unfold Biddy I will be able to build on this friendship and support their work so that more people can become fans.
I am reflecting about the backstage of my life. I am exploring what it means to be more trusting and invitational to the intimate behind the scenes spaces of my life. I am noticing when I am a fan and when I have fans.
(Last year during a Poetry Slam heat, one person came up to me and was so excited to meet me and praised me – I had no idea what to do! After I said thank you, I asked who he was, what he did and why he liked the poem – I was buzzed out to have a fan! A single solitary stranger who had never heard my work before and who probably wouldn’t again. I didn’t win the heat – but I didn’t care – I had a fan! Whoo Hoo!)
In this little bubble of fandom, this week, I also walked and swam, talked and listened, watched and waited. In one of the quiet moments I observed an endangered Giant Egret – a beautiful, majestic bird silently and deliberately walking on the water in the mangrove. Gliding past this feathered, regal invitation as real as any human one, to join yet another cosmic conversation.
From my privileged position, sitting silently watching from the bird hide, I was backstage with all of my fellow humans, giving witness to the wonder of creation, reflected in my photo and poem below.
In every moment there is the potential for me to be in the audience, on stage or backstage. I aim to gratefully accept the invitations to each blessed colloquia with my biggest Fan. I am humbled to have received some extra tuition from Master Egret and the young men about what it means to pay attention to fans and invite them backstage.
The Giant Egret
Strolls the emerald tinged river
Sanctifying the water with her presence
Goddess of the mangroves
Elegantly glides past me
Dispensing an invisible blessing
As I sit in the confessional of the hide.