Labor Day Weekend I attended my fifth California Men's Gathering. Unfortunately I had to leave early because of a recurrence of staph. For those who have never been, the CMG is not an easy thing to describe. It involves spending a three-day weekend in a summer camp environment with mostly gay men. There are gatherings where everyone in the camp comes together, workshops, and quiet time. Think of it like Burning Man without fire, women, or drugs; or like the land that time forgot, a hidden canyon in Malibu where hippies, fairies, and the spirit of Allen Ginsberg lives on.
Looking over the list of workshops can give some idea of what goes on, but the weekend will be whatever you make of it. For some folks it means nothing more that laying out by the pool and working on a perfect tan. I tend to gravitate towards the more physical activities, like a wildflower identification hike, the ropes course, or the sweat lodge.
This year I attended a workshop on making art in (and out of) nature. Coming from an art world (and schooling) that heavily engages in the critique, it was both disorienting and liberating to make art without dire ramifications.
My particular micro experience can be seen as a synecdoche of one CMG philosophy: being in the moment, and unburdened play. This isn't as easy as it sounds, which is where the CMG's mission statement comes in. The idea of men mentoring men to be men to be men alludes to the potential help form your fellow CMGers at freeing one's grip on one's baggage.