Week 22: Summer Concerts and Social Intrepidity [Score +22]

Week 22: Summer Concerts and Social Intrepidity [Score +22]

I love this time of year for 5,379 reasons, one of which is the opportunity to simply pick from a list of a dozen things I might want to do—especially outside—on any given day. Options are quite literally endless.

So this week’s post is a combo: two fun activities... but only one where I thought to take photos.

In Concert with Nature at Eagle Creek Park [Score +8]

My favorite concerts are of the intimate, spacious variety where I’m often required to bring my own blanket or chair and a picnic meal. When I learned that folk singer-songwriter Tim Grimm would be playing by the lake at Eagle Creek Park as part of their In Concert with Nature series—and that tickets were free with the $6.00 park entry—I was all over it.

I first heard Tim Grimm last fall at a private concert where he entertained alongside storyteller Philip Gulley, another Indiana native. Tim Grimm’s music, for me, is like Carrie Newcomer’s: I want to be sure I’m paying attention to each word so I can absorb the story and each turn of phrase in the lyrics.

For this week’s concert, Mom and I packed a cooler with salads and sparkling water, tossed in a bottle of water and bowl for Mylee, grabbed our lawn chairs, and the three of us claimed our spot about 30 minutes before showtime at 6:30. The weather was lovely: the 90-degree July heat wave had recently broken, a breeze fanned us off the water, and the sky was dotted with the kind of clouds that precede a beautiful sunset but don’t threaten with rain.

For the next 90 minutes, a crowd of 150 or so, including a dozen or more dogs and a smattering of pontoon boats on the lake, enjoyed a three-piece acoustic concert that made us both laugh and sigh with empathy or nostalgia.

Afterward, I always know it was a good show when I compulsively sing bits of the songs for the next 48 hours (both aloud and in my head), and this one didn’t disappoint.

A Nicaragua Reunion Where I Didn’t Reunite with Anyone [Score +14]

Later the same week, Kristin, my most intrepid friend as evidenced in my Nicaragua stories, organized a gathering of Indianapolis residents who have traveled to Nicaragua with Project Alianza. We would meet, share stories, and make some like-minded new friends.

For most, it served as a reunion from their past trip. Aside from Kristin, I was the only person from the Indy area who’d been a part of our most recent particular venture, so virtually every other person was a new friend for me.

Over the course of the next couple of hours, about nine people and extra friends squeezed into our claimed picnic table on the patio. Everyone had vastly different connections to Kristin or Project Alianza, and it was fun to connect all the dots. I enjoyed getting to meet people who’d shared experiences similar to mine, particularly because each of them were intelligent, interesting, and intrepid in their own ways.

But it was the kind of gathering where the introverted part of me becomes uncomfortable quickly and starts plotting my escape. When a group surpasses about six in number, one big conversation in which everyone is involved splinters into smaller side conversations. People nearby enter and exit the discussions as a word or phrase catches their attention, which both ratchets up the energy level and ratchets down the potential depth of the connections.

I think of it visually like this: a small group conversation will naturally flow from one topic to another, but it’s a fairly smooth, wavelike transition with segues (even when they don’t necessarily make sense). Like this:

As you add more people, that smooth thread gets tangled.

Those tangled groups can be really fun, and my extroverted counterparts love the energy and variety.

It’s not inherently bad or good, it’s just not where I thrive. I start to make some headway with a person, get perhaps two complete sentences into a topic, then I’m interrupted or they’re pulled away. The bubble pops. The spark hisses as it’s extinguished. I feel my energy and mood declining, or I get discouraged, even, as the requirement to keep up intensifies. I begin to withdraw both physically and emotionally and just want to go home.

On this night, as I was making my way to do just that, though, I fortuitously got into two separate one-on-one conversations with people that made up for all my earlier discomfort. Both took place physically apart from the group, standing next to the table instead of sitting at it while trying to engage. I got to talk to each of them for a solid ten minutes or so apiece, with real connection and no interruption.

As always when I leave a party-like setting, I felt a duality of emotions: on the one hand, disappointment in myself for wanting to escape when everyone else seemed to be having such a fun time. But on the other hand, I was proud of myself for getting out, going to the gathering of entirely new people in the first place, and making the effort for two solid hours.

Learning to focus on the latter half of the equation will, I think, be a life-long exercise. I don’t expect my nature to change, so I instead have to accept it for what it is and be happy with myself for what I DO accomplish in the name of social intrepidity.

Score Part 1:

  • Did something outside my routine: +1
  • Left the house: +1
  • Did something entirely new: +1
  • Copilot Mylee came along: +5

Score Part 2:

  • Did something outside my routine: +1
  • Left the house: +1
  • Had a conversation with a stranger of at least 30 seconds: +2
  • Had a conversation with a stranger beyond basics (i.e., work, hometown, what’s your dog’s name): +2
  • Learned someone’s name: +3
  • Copilot Mylee came along: +5

Week 23: Ladies Who Brunch [Score +14]

Week 19: Nicaraguan Vacation

Week 19: Nicaraguan Vacation