Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.
(Note: I am posting this on Monday at home since (a) the porcfest wifi completely crapped out for me on Saturday and I was driving for 16 hours yesterday to get home. So all references to yesterday and today should be mentally adjusted to Friday and Saturday. Carry on.)
The last day of Porcfest has arrived. Last night was a blast, but honestly seemed a little lower key than Thursday night. Perhaps everyone had gone a bit too hard on Thursday (the poker table was lively when I went to get rid of some used beer around 4 AM) or perhaps they are saving up for tonight. I guess I’ll know in a few hours ;-).
The Krav class went well with another 30-40 people learning a bit about self defense. At the start of the class a few folks approached and asked if it would be OK to video the session. I told them sure and (somewhat snarkily) asked if it was for their youtube channel. The guy said, “Yeah, we have a YouTube channel. It’s youtube.com/….CNN.” So that started off great. I am sure that if I avoid the cutting room floor it will only be in support of a headline along the lines of “Extremist Libertarian group trains for combat in the woods of New Hampshire”. That or something about child abuse since Kendall was my demo partner (although I may have screwed that one up for them since I had her do most of the demos on me). After the session, Kendall and I got some good bulgogi and I ended up helping getting the fire restarted before the usual hours of meeting new and old friends and discussing everything from whether Rand (Ayn) really liked Mises or she was just looking to get laid to the best way to build a business.
I think I am finally getting used to sleeping in the tent (of course the night before I leave) since I slept to almost 8 this morning. I made some coffee, used the last little bit of cream then set about packing up all the non essentials, the idea being to just leave one tent a change of clothes and sleeping bags so we can make a fast get away in the morning. We aren’t roughing it by any stretch of the imagination although we’re not quite glamping either. Nonetheless, it has been an interesting time of practicing a bit of stoicism:
“Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with course and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: ‘Is this the condition that I feared?’”
We haven’t spent nearly all the money we brought, because we just haven’t needed too. Mason selling some bracelets helped too since he was partially self supporting. Through the whole week, we’ve been really well fed, and honestly quite comfortable despite living very simply. Is this what people are so afraid of when they worry about doing with less? It’s not so bad. And in some ways its quite good!
One of the last things packed from the non-essential pile was my book (and reading glasses…sigh). I didn’t quite finish my book on this trip, but I did get far enough into it (only 100 pages or so left to go) to see a striking synchronicty with this trip. For this trip I picked The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell (90 second review coming when I do manage to finish it) from the ever increasing reading pile (it actually got bigger with all the books I picked up at the event…I need a month long reading vacation).
Campbell was a comparative mythologist and developed the theory of the monomyth: the idea that all mythology (and also dreams) are structured around a common story, which he calls the Hero’s Journey. It’s a fascinating read, but two warnings. First, if you read it it will ruin almost every book you read and movie you see after you understand the structure, since you can’t help but seeing it everywhere you look. Second, it’s a little “trippy”. Not Tibetan Book of the dead trippy, but some of my new objectivist friends from porcfest would probably put it down after the first 20 pages.
The basic structure of the hero’s journey is the departure, the initiation and the return. For me, Porcfest has all three elements. To be clear, I am not calling my self a hero in any sort of self aggrandizing sense – merely the sense that almost everyone is the hero (at least some / most of the time) of their own personal narrative.
For me the call came in the fall of 2013, listening to the Bad Quaker podcast. I was new to the concepts espoused by Ben and the others I listened to, but I was immediately hooked: the philosophy of liberty is consistent with reality as I have experienced it and was backed by water tight reason/logic. Ben mentioned Porcfest a few times on his shows and I added it to my someday-maybe list. A few weeks later, in a fit of “get things off my list” suddenly I was registered and had reserved a tent site. That was last year’s Porcfest, which, in another similarity to Campbell’s book, served as the call for me to attend this year. I had such an amazing time last year, that I had to do it again. And this time for the whole week.
This past week at Porcfest has definitely been an initiation. No there were no goats or paddles (and yes I was in a fraternity in college. Don’t ask. I can’t tell you. It’s secret). While there I get to see with my own eyes how the free society actually works. There are all sorts of people here and all sorts of different ideas and interests…and some of them are armed. Vendors leave their stands unattended with drop boxes and QR codes posted for payments. But there isn’t theft or physical altercation (plenty of verbal sparring sometimes though) because the one thing that everyone there agrees on is that we are each self owners. It’s amazing how that one simple idea changes everything, both in how you conduct yourself and how you treat others. What Porfest makes me understand at a deep level is that all a shift to a free society need’s is for just a few more people to accept this idea. After that everything else is just a fireside discussion.
And yesterday was the return. Having been to the mountain, the hero often finds it difficult to return to the life he had before. In Campbell’s monomyth, however, the return is necessary, since its only by returning that the hero can bring the knowledge and insight he gained during his adventure to the regular world and affect change on a larger scale. This is where I resonated with the book – it is hard for me to leave Porcfest. I will have to start locking my car again. I’ll have to start using paper money again. I’ll have to start watching what I say and to whom again. A few things make it easier though. First, I am heading home to see my wife who has yet to make the trip with us to Porcfest. She’s mostly on board with the philosophy but just isn’t a camper. Next year I am springing for a hotel room AND a camp site. The best of both worlds. Second, I am leaving both relaxed and energized. I know I can make a difference if I do nothing more than try to live life each day away from Porcfest like I do when I am there. If I can be the change I want to see as Tucker quoted Ghandi earlier in the week. If I get a chance to have a conversation with someone and plant the seeds of liberty in their mind, so be it. But if not, I know I can lead by example and that will have a positive effect. It’s a natural by product of being a self actualized self owner.
And last but not least: Porcfest XIII day 1 is only 358 days away.