Retreat ’15 diaries: Joe

Expectations – do we need them? – by Joe Samuel.


Having sat behind my keyboard and played for most of our residential festivals, it is difficult not to lay on mighty expectations in anticipation of the next one.  So many powerful memories, epiphanies, touching moments and personal triumphs that they start to become expected, almost demanded by students and facilitators alike.  This year I was mindful of keeping my expectations as fuzzy as possible and to try to be as ‘in the moment’ as we encourage everyone else to be.  There is no point trying to repeat an experience in a class, worse still try to replicate the environment so that it happens again.

Nevertheless as Friday rolled on I was slowly gripped by the sensation that this year was not as buzzing as previous years and that somehow I should try and push people towards having a more mind-expanding experience in my classes.  This was of course total nonsense and paranoid fabrication.  As soon as Saturday began I was tumbled and buffeted by the ineluctable momentum of Osho Leela in full stride, only to be spat out the other end on Sunday wondering what had just happened.

There are two classes that highlight the journey for me.  The first was on Friday afternoon with the incomparable and soon to be sorely missed Jason Blackwater.  We were teaching a ‘Game of the song’ class.  It wasn’t that it was a bad class or that the people there were not brilliant at the exercises and games that we threw at them, just that somehow it didn’t live up to my expectations.  I get the feeling that if I had been a little more open-minded about the objectives of the class then I might have been more aware of how to steer it in different directions at different times.  An hour and a half is not long to try and get quite a heady concept across and it felt like we nearly got to the juicy bit just as the clock beat us.

The second class, ‘Narrative dream songs’ was on Saturday afternoon and has already been described by Rhi in her previous blog,   My expectations for this class were very undefined as I was not really sure what Rhi had in mind until just before the class.  The session was intense and wonderful and surprising and seemed to be over in a flash.

It would be wrong to infer that my expectations were responsible for how these classes went.  There will always be good and not-so-good classes and shows.  However, expectations do mean that we are trying to live up to something that is not truly present.  Sometimes we are trying to recreate a past experience, or even live up to an imagined experience that we have created in our heads.  There is no substitute for being in the moment and expectations in my opinion only serve to dampen that moment.  We should not create and judge at the same time.  Let’s create now and judge later.

Now, time to read what I just wrote…

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