Earlier this month, Kristen, Samuel and I took a short trek west to the Wild Goose Festival. Actually, a five-hour car ride with a 3-year-old doesn’t feel like a short trip, but we certainly had an easy route compared to the people I met who came from Chicago, Toronto, California, the UK or Hawaii. This was the first year we were able to make it to the festival, though I have been following the vision and progress of Wild Goose since the first festival in 2011 was announced publicly. Expectations for awesomeness were pretty high as we pulled into Hot Springs. I’m happy to report that the Wild Goose lived up to it’s reputation. Aside from the muddy campsite and occasional downpour, it couldn’t have been better.
There was a diverse range of speakers. I heard performances by several musicians I’ve been a fan of for a while, and others I enjoyed listening to for the first time. There were also opportunities to watch captivating performance art inspired by scripture, participate in creative workshops and experience new spiritual practices. Where else could I go to drink craft beer and join in raucous hymn singing in the evening, then start the next day by wading chest-deep into a cool mountain river for a 45-minute prayer liturgy in the ancient monastic tradition? Wild Goose 2013 was a theological smorgasbord begging to be sampled.
And there begins my problem. I spent the first day and a half torn between how to spend my time. Because I used up most of my vacation hours back in May on a pilgrimage to Israel/Palestine, the Wild Goose Festival was our main family trip for the summer. I wanted to spend time relaxing at the campsite with Kristen and playing in the river with Samuel. I wanted to connect with a few friends I hadn’t been able to sit down with in a while. I hoped to introduce myself to some of the authors and speakers I’ve enjoyed learning from but haven’t personally met before. And of course, I wanted to go to as many workshops and programs and prayer services and concerts and lectures as possible — and with multiple events scheduled from 7 AM to midnight, there were indeed a lot of possibilities.
But you know what? You can’t do it all. Despite what the 60s may have told your grandparents, you just can’t have it all. Every yes is also a no.
As this began to dawn on me, I was hit with a cloud of depression. No matter what I did, I would be letting something fall. If I ran from event to event I would totally miss out on being with Samuel and leave Kristen to do the parenting. If I spent all day milling around the camp, mingling with people and playing with Samuel, I would be missing out on the unique opportunities only available at Wild Goose. Which ever path I took, I would be a failure.
I’ve been asking myself lately why this is my default disposition. Why not see something as awesome as Wild Goose as a win-win? Enjoy a relaxing weekend in the mountains connecting with friends and family, or learn from and dialogue with some of the established and rising voices of the emergent church, evangelicalism and progressive Christianity? Can’t really go wrong either way, right? I’m forcing myself to look at more things as win-win, instead of lose-lose. It’s a tough habit to change, but I’ll find no better time to start than today.