I knew I'd been back to confest when I had a mostly different experience to my first. I'd heard this was the way it often manifests. Also after marrying myself four months ago I was looking for the divorce yourself workshop, I'd been a lazy, emotionally unavailable pain in the arse and I'd had enough.
I arrived late Saturday night, found bird of paradise and we headed off to our tent. On our way we encountered a group standing in the middle of a dirt track simulating a sexual act, we were welcomed into the impromptu orgasm improv workshop. Together we moaned, grunted, ooo'd and aaa'd our way to a false climax. Then we lit fake cigarettes, the men made fake excuses about why we didn't last as long as we usually do and the woman said it didn't matter. We finished with real hugs and went our separate ways. I was back!
At the tent I set up my bed and climbed into a big sleeping bag suit bird had thoughtfully provided. Bird began preparing herself for a night under the cuddle puddle gazebo. She found her toothbrush and tube, applied the contents of 'said' tube and began the teeth cleaning ritual, Brushing came to an abrupt halt, her eyes widened and jaw dropped. She looked at the tube, then at me and said, "agaleongukingube". Which translated means 'Oh dear I've put sexually motivated water based lubricant on my toothbrush by mistake'. This raised the possibility that some unfortunate male could end up with minty fresh toothpaste all over his genitals this weekend, lucky fella.
The sleeping bag suits were amazing. As the hours under the gazebo rolled by the temperature fell, the participants, without sleeping bag suits were forced back to the relative warmth of their tents. Leaving me and bird to tough it out. I'm glad we did, waking up in the open air was beautiful. My first conscious breath fresh and clean, the bush dawn chorus more new and exciting to me than it was the first time I heard it. I lay still, listening and watching the forest wake around me. As the sun rose higher the humans began to rise also, their noises were less impressive, so I got up and headed to the chai tent.
One of my favorite things to do is sit at the holy cow chai tent with a hot drink and meet strangers. This Sunday morning I met a man who'd just returned from an Osho retreat in India. I learnt much from him about Osho, most of which I've forgotten due to my appalling memory, I do remember however being told the Nazarenes, as in Jesus the Nazarene, were ancient healers. The conversation ended and the Osho dude stood to leave. I offered him my hand and told him my name, he thought for a second, "you can call me, Prem" he said. The pause left me convinced 'Prem' wasn't his real name, which made me wonder about all the other 'Prem's' I'd met. Stand in a crowd at confest and shout "Prem" and a large proportion will turn around and say "what". I'm not sure why this is the case, anonymity, or maybe shedding a real world identity for a confest one.
Post chat I headed back to HQ and bumped into a member of our tribe, she'd been to a healer to help with an injury sustained during a yoga workshop, when she discovered the healer was a Christian calling upon the light of god and Jesus, she was more than a little skeptical. The healer placed her hand on the injury, causing an intense heat, and the injury was immediately and significantly improved. I couldn't help but wonder at the coincidence of learning about the Nazarene healers and then meeting a friend who claimed to have been healed by the power of Jesus. It seems there may be things in this universe that we don't have the answers to. I'm grateful for this epiphany, I no longer have to wonder why people laugh at Benny Hill, think the spice girls can sing, or consider what became of the mythical, obese, man eating, female sex addict who lived in the confest steam room. I now sleep better at night.
At six there was a silent disco, Silent disco had not featured at confest for some years which made it somewhat momentous. I'd not thought much about the events location, the family tent. On reflection we shouldn't have been as surprised as we were to discover this was a kids silent disco. No matter, bird grabbed three pairs of headphones and distributed them, we danced to 'call me maybe', 'gangnam style' and a host of other tunes my nine year old daughter would have loved. Bird had a cluster of young fans assembled around her fluorescent green tutu, all copying her moves. So many things I love about bird of paradise, not least her child like enthusiasm and sense of fun. If you go to a silent disco take time out to remove your headphones, enjoy the rather surreal experience of watching people dance with no sound, it's fabulous, joyous even. You'll hear the patter of feet on the floor and occasionally someone will break the quiet by 'whooping', or singing. Whilst without my phones one of the mums sang out "sexy, sexy, sexy, sexay". It's the least age appropriate thing I did at confest this year, but the most fun. I think the mums would agree.
I'd been at confest a night and a day and not attended a workshop, but today was Monday, today I had a plan and a list. Chai at 0730. Toilet at 0745. Consciousness at 0800. Mindfulness at 0900. Beginners massage at 1000 (head and legs). The art of storytelling at 1100 with Simon Oakes or Oates (this ones great did it last time). Movement meditation at 1300. Lunch at 1430. By 1100 I was still in the chai tent. I was engaged in a conversation with another knowledgable and fascinating stranger who's now a friend. Though I don't know for how much longer, I promised her I wouldn't write about the ant bite on her bum, not the cheek but right on the ring, ouch! She confessed there's not much padding down there so the ant had easy access. The ant conversation was a brief interlude to a chat on her area of expertise, sexuality and sensuality she had plenty of insights, most of which, again, I've forgotten. I do remember the lovely hug I got from my ex friend though.
I eventually made it to the second thing on my list of things to do, the toilet. Confest bogs are basic, they do attempt to offer privacy in the form of a hessian door flap. What I discovered on this morning was a small gust of wind is enough to send the flap into the sky, leaving me staring into the eyes of those queueing for my spot. Pre confest that might have been mortifying, but not anymore. Confest is a great leveller, we all run around the forest naked, covered in mud grunting, we all fake group orgasms, cuddle strangers in puddles, share personal and intimate details about anal insect injuries, fart in the hot tub and we all go to the toilet, don't we? Maybe not, if you don't maybe you should.
By Monday afternoon I was still without a workshop to my name. I went to the info tent to hunt through the scraps. I chose two, forest foods part II and morgasms. Forest foods I assumed was finding free food to eat, part II would be desserts right? Wrong, no twig soufflé or kangaroo dropping muffins. More how to recreate a forest environment in your back yard. After this disappointment I was hoping 'morgasms' wasn't going to be a brothel owner handing out business cards, fortunately not. 'morgasms' was a Q&A session about male and female orgasms, how they work, how to make them last, make them multiple, how to injaculate, where the spots for stimulation are and a host of other knowledge I wished I'd had when I was still young enough to take advantage of it. Big respect must go out to the woman in her seventies sat at the back who kept shouting, "can you speak up please I can't hear you", whilst craning her neck desperately for information. If she's got some orgasmic life left in her I can have no excuses. Upon my return to civilization I called the girl I'd been dating, I spoke with authority on the subject and I told her there were three types of female orgasm, she told me there were more, I told her the three stimuli locations in and around her vagina, she told me that I'd missed the most important organ for sexual stimulation, the brain. I gave up trying to impress her with my newly acquired facts and instead confessed I'd faked an orgasm, she told me she fakes them all the time. I asked her if she'd mind googling 'compassion for the male ego' and get back to me.
On our last night the tribe in our camp had decided to hang out together. Myself and zebra hoof were having a chat outside our tent as we waited for the others to arrive. She was sharing intimate details about a tantric workshop experience. One pose required her to be upside down with her legs parted and bum in the air, her partner was massaging her buttocks. The result of this manoeuvre was suction in the vaginal region, she knew she was in trouble. When re entering the gravitational pull of our planet, the air inside her fanny was going to be expelled with great force. She warned her partner accordingly. As expected the moment she righted herself a huge fanny fart escaped. In response I pissed myself, figuratively, obviously. To add to the embarrassment, on the way home in her car a fellow camper leaned forward, and knowingly said, "wow, you and Lark really do talk about everything don't you".
Once together we headed off for food and a night of entertainment at the open stage. I have to celebrate the little mushroom company here, their mushroom burgers were amazing. There were some great acts also worth a mention, of course I can't remember all their names, lets just assume they're all called 'Prem'. I'll not forget the tap dancer who tapped his way to oblivion on his birthday. Or the naked poet who, clothe'd, played 'what a wonderful world' on the kazoo while we all sang along. Or the cuddle puddle at the front of the stage, they were passing the 'cuddle puddle' sign around that my daughter helped make, and calling out for everyone to join them. Due to being horizontal and having their arms engaged in cuddles, the puddle were forced to demonstrate their appreciation by holding their legs in the air and banging their feet together. The last song of the night was the best, a young woman confessed, "I'm really nervous, but I thought this would be the best place to get over my fears", the overwhelming response from the audience? "WE LOVE YOU". And that sentiment was exactly the same as my first confest, the thing that didn't change, loads of love and respect. Such a special way to end. She sang beautifully and fully deserved the lying ovation she received.