I knew I'd been to confest when, a naked man wearing nothing but mud walked up behind me, sniffed me, then retreated without uttering a syllable. When I'd participated in an impromptu cuddle puddle with strangers. When I'd performed an improvised dance, with no music, for five minutes in front of a complete stranger. When I'd seen forty naked couples performing tantric massage. When I'd found myself having imaginary sex, after drinking milk from the udders of an imaginary alien cow, with a real woman. And I knew I'd been to confest when I arrived single, and left married, to myself.
Before attending confest I'd heard a few myths. Most of them support the axiom that an entertaining story is preferable to a factual one. Many revolved around nudity and promiscuity. Myself and fellow confest virgin 'bird of paradise' had clearly heard the same stories and packed accordingly, she showed me the location of her industrial sized box of condoms, just in case I used my eight on the way to the toilet. This constant association between nudity and sex was somewhat discredited when I witnessed an elderly gentleman playing table tennis, naked, every time he bent down to pick up the ball he was in danger of picking up one of his own. From that moment I understood separation between the two was possible, nudity and promiscuity I mean, not balls.
Whilst I did not 'see' any overtly sexual behavior, I certainly heard some. Whether or not this can be considered a positive experience, depends on your voyeuristic desires vs your need for sleep. Audible orgasmic expressions are available, in high definition and surround sound, to everyone within a two hundred meter radius of the bonking zone. With so many tantric gurus and karma sutra practitioners in attendance, it's inevitable, your going to hear some great sex. Better than you can do (not me, you). Nevertheless after losing count of how many orgasms 'she' had, even I was beginning to feel a little inadequate. did this man have no consideration for the rest of us? I found solace in remembering an article I'd read, It reported that females were faking orgasms more than ever before. Due to the porn 'myth' men think if they can't shag for hours, and fail to give at least 10 oph (orgasms per hour), they're failures. In an attempt to massage this distorted male ego women are faking more than ever before. I concluded at least fifty percent of the orgasm's I'd heard that morning were fake, and I should know because I've heard loads of fake ones. If I'd had a copy of that magazine I'd have left it outside his tent. If you feel the need to improve your lovemaking skills there are plenty of workshops that can help, from practical tantric massage to discussions about orgasms. They are delivered with knowledge, sensitivity and respect. But please wait till you get gone to practice, I need to sleep.
I truly hadn't expected to get naked at my first confest, thought myself too introverted, but with ease I did. I was naked in the hot tub at 4am on New Years morning, gazing at the stars from under scented gum trees. I did naked in the steam room with a young man from South America, a young woman from Eastern Europe and a fat pervert from Australia. I did mud bath naked and chatted with two Taiwanese students in their late teens, they delighted in the fact I was the same age as their parents, I did not share their enthusiasm for my age.
After the mud bath it's customary to either join the mud tribe, which involves wandering around the site grunting at fellow Confester's, or sit by the river until the mud is dry, apparently this is good for you. I chose the second option and once cooked I hopped into the river to wash off the mud, It takes longer than you'd imagine to rid yourself of ten kilos of dried mud. The consequence of this over exposure to cold water is shrinkage. I was surprised by how far my testicles could recede into my body, my appendage was trying to follow suit. Most men will appreciate the anxiety associated with this situation. I had a few options, 'cup' them till they warm up and then make a dash for shore. Stroll up to the beach and inform the hundreds of people staring at me that 'it's usually MUCH bigger than this'. Or simply accept the laws of nature and stroll proudly from the river whilst people point and say 'who is that underhung ball-less monster from the Edwards River'. Given I was experiencing the early stages of hypothermia I was forced into option three. Of course my anxiety was irrational. Whilst standing on the beach warming my bits and coaxing them back into existence a woman stopped to chat me up. She was a psychic so I guess she knew I was usually bigger than that. What she didn't foresee was me turning her down when she invited herself back to my tent for sex, I hope this prompted an exploration of alternative careers.
I was surprisingly pleased that I'd not succumbed to the confest myths. I'd been laboring under the pretext that if I didn't attend a tantric shagging workshop, or have intercourse with scores of poly amorous women then I'd had a failed confest. The opposite was true, somehow a soulless sexual encounter with a stranger would have sullied my confest experience. That may say more about me than what confest represents. But I hope for others confest is primarily about the abundant love and intimacy I felt, from friends and strangers alike. It's easy to be cynical, if it wasn't I wouldn't bother, but lets not be. Confest is about personal growth, community, support, diversity, acceptance, creativity, healing, connecting with nature. It's a unique and beautiful life altering event.
There are many highlights of my first confest but the most significant was the 'Marry Yourself' workshop. It was refreshing to find the facilitator for the workshop was not an expert on gender issues, she had simply married herself at Burning Man festival last year, and was gracious enough to want to share her experience with the confest community. The idea was simple, we had to write vows from inner masculine to inner feminine, and then from inner feminine to inner masculine. In the same way one might do in the real world at a conventional wedding. For me the essence of the exercise was to discover and recognise masculine traits within myself, traits I felt were missing. So if I could verbalise my intention to provide and protect myself it would be the beginning of a realisation that could lead to a healthier more rounded relationship with 'me', and subsequently a less dependent relationship with significant others. I found it difficult to write the vows, would have liked more time. But we were marrying ourselves the following morning. The plan was to meet, read our vows to ourselves at a makeshift alter, then obtain adulation and love from our fellow 'Marry Yourself' devotees. Unfortunately my inner best man got me shit faced on new years eve and handcuffed me to a lamppost clothed (no one would notice at confest if I were naked). I missed my own wedding. On the up side I don'thave to work out how to consummate the marriage. The truth is of course more mundane, I missed the ceremony because I had to head back to Melbourne before the ceremony began, but for the sake of entertainment!
Post confest I have been keen to share my enthusiasm, wisdom, growth, increased spirituality, and altogether higher self with my lesser non confest friends. Most of my captive audience are fascinated, surprised and impressed by everything I achieved at confest. But any suggestion that they join me at the next one is generally met with a very fast strategic withdrawal, and possibly a little fear. I can sympathize with the position, most people don't think they would be able to hug strangers, float naked in a communal mud bath or pretend to have sex with a stranger under an imaginary alien cow, but they are wrong. The reality is confest is where the average introvert can step out of their comfort zone without fear of ridicule. Those of you that have been to confest will know what I'm talking about, those of you that haven't should come and find out, you won't regret it.
Since confest I'm a more open, caring man who grasps life with both hands, I take every opportunity and experience that comes my way, and all this discovery at the age of 45. Who knows what I'll discover at Easter's confest? Bring it on !