Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Days in goodness spent

LifeIsGood Conference 2008!

It is, of course, impossible to know where to start, what to write, and where to stop; so, I'm just gonna shotgun some stuff out there and what sticks, sticks and what falls away, falls away.

At one level, you wanna say that unschooling is all about the kids and that was certainly true; the kids and their interactions and activities were the beating heart of the entity which was the conference. But radical unschooling (or whatever label you wanna assign to it) is a philosophy/lifestyle which informs every member of the family and the weltanschauung of family living. In that sense, it's not just about the kids but about the entire family and how the family interacts with the larger universe in which it functions. In that vein, I saw a lot of adults blossoming and relaxing because all the other adults there accepted their kids and their entire family for what they are, without the usual societal assumptions of what they should be, according to some laundry list which was apparently passed out one day at school while I was out sick. Maybe it was in one of those business classes I avoided at college? Anyway, I'm happy to have missed that particular lesson.

Kids were loved and hugged and accepted. And parents were loved and hugged and accepted. It's really all any of us wants, whether we're six or sixty, simply to be accepted for what we are, warts and all (as Schuyler might say!). Nobody grabbed a sparkly child's arm and hauled her away while stage-whispering, "You're embarrassing me!" Nobody said to their injured, crying child, "Be a man! You're not really hurt."

And nobody demanded of the parent of a shiny sparkler that they should control their unruly child, nor did anyone complain to a parent consoling a distraught child that there was too much nurturing going on and some tough love was called for. What a nice break from the social ocean I typically swim in. Predator-filled, that thing is and our happy conference lagoon of acceptance was a welcome respite.

The rate of the beating heart of the conference was set by the drum circle and, believe you me!, it was groooooovy. Ronnie the Rhythm Mistress got our pulse pounding!

If the kids were the heart of the conference, grooving to the beat of the drum circle, Mary was obviously the brain. Thank you! Thank you! A thousand times, thank you! You organized this madhouse into a coherent unity. Amazing. Of course, now I'm not mentioning Jon, and us guys gotta stick together; so maybe you're the superego of the conference's brain and Jon is the id. That leaves Conor and Qacei as the two halves of this brain's ego. Ok, maybe that analogy doesn't work so well; but a million thanks, anyway, O Brainy Diva!

Continuing the organ theme, the lungs of the conference got their breath from the sharing between and among participants. We breathed in the fresh and refreshing philosophical O2 provided by our fellow unschoolers and offgassed our CO2 of fear, doubt, and insecurity. The more experienced among us provided one isotope of O2 while the newbies provided another but they were all valuable and refreshing. It's all O2, baby, and don't let anybody tell ya otherwise.

I don't really wanna continue this metaphor to such a granular level that I cover every organ in the body. I mean, who wants to know about the conference's kidneys? However, I do feel that Jon deserves a mention for contributing to the workload of the conference's liver. Yum! Cocktails good! For that matter, the wine tasting was a very pleasant interlude for me, too. I'm definitely not an oenophile (which I lovingly pronounce as "weenie-phile") but I do enjoy a nice glass of wine. And I certainly did that night! Thanks to all the providers and our two wine professionals. A swell time for me individually but Mister Liver is tired now and he needs a nice rest.

The voice of the conference was the panglossalalia of all our various voices blending into the harmony of one concept, even if it was expressed across a bit of a spectrum rather than on one single wavelength. Individuality in all things, eh?

And who could doubt that the feet of the conference were made manifest at the Barefoot Boogie! Phew! I'm still tired. The lovely MJ put together a kickass playlist.

Ok, to finish this metaphor with a well-deserved euthanasia, each of us was the eyes of the conference. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the eyes have it! I'm not a huge Lord Byron fan but I'll close with a poem of his and specify an allusion between the poet's "she" and the embodiment of the personification of the conference itself.

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

Days in goodness spent, indeed! I had a helluva good time and, if you were there, I hope you did, too. If you weren't there, get your ass in gear and ATTEND next year! I expect to see you there!


  1. Fantastic post!

    You summed up the conference nicely.

    I cannot wait for next year's conference, too!

  2. Thanks for all the fabulous conversations with me and my hubby.
    --Renee and Chris

  3. Chasmyn, thanks for visiting and for your comments. It was truly a wonderful time. Next year is too far away. We're gonna hafta have a coupla noncons to fill in!

    Renee (and Chris), hi! It was great talking to y'all. Thank you for volunteering at the IGT; it freed me (and Ronnie) to catch some stuff we were anxious to see. I wish y'all the best of luck in pursuing your family path into the future.

  4. thanks for this post... it allows us non attendees to live vicariously through your experience :)

  5. Hi, Arun,

    Thanks for visiting and commenting. We strongly hope to meet y'all IRL in the Fall.

  6. Hi Frank!
    It was indeed a wonderful time and I love the way you wrote about it. I had trouble putting it into words, but hopefully the many pictures I took help to portray it. Violet enjoyed taking your picture and thanks you. She made enough to buy a really cool invisible pen diary book at the airport on the way home. I wish I had the chance to sit and talk with you at the conference. We'll see you there next year!
    Mandy (mom to Violet and Olivia)

  7. ahhhhh... *big sigh* Just beautiful Frank.

    I love these 3 lines,

    "But tell of days in goodness spent,
    A mind at peace with all below,
    A heart whose love is innocent!"

    That's how I feel of our unschooling life. Life is Good.

  8. Hi, Kelli,

    Thanks for the compliment. Yeah, those last three lines where what made me use this poem, even more than the metaphor of the eyes which was handy for my conceit.

    I may be passing through Atlanta in the next coupla months. If y'all are settled and if my schedule allows it, maybe I could meet ya'll for lunch or something. I'll let ya know as things firm up.

  9. Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed reading this. I am hoping to attend my first conference (or two) this year and I think it will be a much needed break from the societal norms of parenting I see every day.