It’s Greenbelt 2011 in a couple of days. There’s a growing pile of camping stuff and waterproof clothing in my study. I’ve stocked up on snacks and fruit juice as well as meths and waxed matches. Got the ingredients for a huge batch of breakfast flapjacks.
I’ve got really mixed feelings about going away. There are all sorts of reasons why. Staying fit for the Great North Run is one worry. My new job is making serious demands on me. I’m not complaining – this is a great opportunity for me – after 6 fairly full-on weeks I need a bit of brain space. Particularly as it’ll be even busier when I go back. But this’ll be the first Greenbelt I’ve needed to worry about powering a BlackBerry as well as my phone. Several of my recently tweeted problems have been holiday & travel related as a consequence of the job move. One is related to the need for a tent with a power supply.
I’m really excited about being part of the programme, even though I’m not listed – at 3.30 on Saturday I’ll be part of a panel with Bex and Simon talking about the future of social media in the church. And I’m helping with social media surgeries during the weekend. In fact, of the last six Greenbelts I’ve attended, I’ve contributed in some way to five of them. So it’s not the idea of working that’s causing me to wobble.
I’m going to this Greenbelt knowing practically shedloads of people – some only via Twitter, some I’ve actually met more than once. So it won’t be like the year when my two friends paired off and left me practically alone. Or the year I more or less was on my own, on purpose. (At least if I know I’m on my own there’s no disappointment from being without company). Or the year I’d just been dumped and divided time equally between beer and prayer to numb the awfulness. There’s the times when the people I camped with, friends of a friend, have unwittingly excluded me from their sociability & piled on the loneliness.
I just know Greenbelt is a place that I have cried a lot, and I don’t see that any of the things I’ve cried over in the past have gone away. Or that the tears, some of which have been tears of relief and thanks for a space, are any less welcome. But what if I make it to Soul Space, start crying and can’t stop?
I’ve been a bit unhappy lately because I messed something up quite badly. The sore spot has been covered up a bit by time, kind friends and the busyness of work, but I am scared about revisiting it in Cheltenham. I’m scared about meeting Twitter folk. And I am scared about not meeting Twitter folk… that awkwardness of not recognising someone you’ve bantered with online. I’m a bit frustrated about my session being buried in amongst the social media stuff – frankly completely bemused as to what the arrangements are – and worry about talking to an empty room.
The #gb11 hashtag is hotting up over on Twitter – and ratcheting the worry.
But you know, I’m going to be in the same space as some awesomely creative people. New ideas, new folk, new perspectives, new dreams perhaps. I’ll get inspired to action by all the campaigning that is showcased and I’ll find a new charity to support. I’ll buy a couple of books on entirely new topics. I’ll drink in the Jesus Arms – probably more than is good for me (see above re Great North Run). I will talk to people in queues, crack rubbish jokes, wear wellies and get wet. I’ll eat pie. If I’m given the chance, I’ll eat humble pie. I’ll remind myself when I’m in a crowd, not quite sure what’s going on, that this is probably what it was like being at the back when Jesus was talking.
I’ll find my space. I’ll have fun. I’ll cry. Will I see you there?