Sunday Reflections #17: Festivities

As I write this, the Solas Festival is happening in Perthshire, and I’m not there. I’m at home, although I did think about going to Solas. It hasn’t happened for several reasons, and it’s worth thinking about what they are.

First off, I’ve just had a busy, hectic and somewhat stressful week, starting a new job at short notice, and after all that, I was very tired. It was a struggle to find the energy to spend a weekend in a field.

Second, I was in London last week and it cost a fair bit, so I should probably watch the pennies.

Third, although it’s only a minor factor, Solas has a fair bit of Christian content to it, and although it’s easy enough to avoid if you want to, it’s something I should probably leave behind. I’ve been busily sorting through the legacy of my years as a Christian, and right now I feel like I want to move on to new things. That means the last couple of Christian events I’ve attended – Solas and Greenbelt – now belong in the past.

I last went to Greenbelt in 2018. I’d already given up on God by then, and although there was still enough to keep me going back, in terms of friends being there and lots on the programme I still enjoyed, I don’t think that’s the case any more. I didn’t go in 2019, as I had an amazing opportunity to visit the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone instead. Obviously COVID resulted in the festival being cancelled for a couple of years, and then various other things happened that made me less keen on going again. So – 2018 was the last one I went to, although obviously I didn’t know it at the time. It gave me a lot of fun and enjoyment over the years, and since I moved to Scotland it was a valuable connection with a past life, but more recently I’ve felt that’s where it belongs – in the past.

Likewise, I went to Solas in 2018 with my family, but then didn’t go in 2019. That was nothing to do with Chernobyl, and more to do with the kids not being massively keen on going, and I didn’t fancy it so much on my own. That’s a bit unusual for me, as I tend to do a lot on my own, but it just didn’t appeal. I went again last year, with my son, and really enjoyed it, but then later on in the summer last year I went to the Idler Festival alone, and I felt quite lonely at times. So…that was another reason for leaving it behind.

I still kinda miss it, though, and feel I should be there. I’ve often felt that about Greenbelt as well. Maybe it’s a hangover from the days when I felt very committed to the Christian cause, and I would move heaven and earth to make sure I was at the events I wanted to be at. They’ve certainly both been a lot of fun, and I have very fond memories of them, that go back many years. However, the past is a closed door, and I have good reasons not to try and open it again.

After several difficult and rather turbulent years, I feel like I’m on the verge of some good new things happening, and so it’s time to embrace them. Life is a series of different chapters. One has just ended, and a new one begins. I have new things to think about, new ideas to explore, new things to write about, and new adventures to be had.

So, I might miss Solas, and I might sometimes wish I was there. I might go back in future. I might not. But sometimes we need to shake off the old and the familiar, and embrace new things, even if they’re a bit scary and uncertain.

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