As a boy, I spent a week or two of each year at the greatest summer camp on Earth. It was such a formative part of my life that even when childhood swelled into manhood, I continued to return to camp for the entire two-month summer season. I evolved from camper, to CIT (Counselor in Training), to counselor, to Sailing Guru, to Head Counselor, to Assistant Director… a process that took about 27 years.
Each of those summers was like its own Buddhist incarnation. I would be born when the camping season started, experience a lifetime of lessons, and finally fade from existence when the canoes and archery targets were securely packed away and the last bell of the summer sent us back to the real world for ten long months. It was a lot like the movie Groundhog Day without all the snow and groundhogs.
Among the resume full of skills that I refined over those lifetimes was the ability to tell stories. I come by the raw material honestly. It’s in my genes. For generations my people have had the ability to spin yarns, stretch already tall tales, and turn small fish into mythically huge behemoths. Luckily, we’ve all been smart enough to stay out of politics.
Lifetimes/summers of practice allowed me to polish this raw material until it gleamed. The stories I told ranged the full spectrum, from didactic tales about a native American named Nakusa all the way to a camp favorite, the Green Lady. Sometimes the telling was weak and other times it moved the audience to gasps and tears. Every eye roll and every whimper from the audience was cataloged and used to improve the next story telling session. It became my thing.
For lack of a better segue, fast forward to the present.
In three and a half weeks the Central Florida VegFest will blossom in Orlando, FL. Saturday, October 27th will be a day of vegan food stalls, rescued animal petting, and compassionate, like-minded high fives. In a world where vegans are few and far between, it will be an exciting day to see thousands of us gathered together celebrating our lives and how they are enriched by not taking other lives.
A few days ago I received word that I was accepted as one of the speakers at the VegFest. I get a whole hour to run my mouth about my passion. In addition to my own story, I also get to share the veganaut concept with the assembled masses. Simply put- I am excited.
My brother from another mother made an excellent point, however. He reminded me that vegans and vegetarians are much more likely to be carrying produce. If the speaking engagements falls short of the crowds expectation I could find myself being pelted by heads of cabbage and tomatoes. I think we all know what this means. I will need to bring my juicer. Think of all the nutrients that can be gleaned from bruised tomatoes and squash! Vegan pay dirt!
I know that not everyone can take a week off from work to fly in from California or Australia, but I hope the locals are able to make the drive. I am NOT telling you to make signs and banners that say “Veganauts RULE!” or “Oh Captain, My Captain!” I am merely suggesting it… and promising you either an Earth shatteringly good story telling session, or an almost unlimited supply of fresh vegetable juice.
Either way, I hope you can make it!