FEARLESS PHOTOGRAPHERS CONFERENCE, BUDAPEST, 20-23MARCH 2017
“Oh no what have I done”,” bad move sir”, “I shoulda brought a crew”, “I’ll escape when I can”...and other such thoughts of regret and negatvity filled my being as I walked toward the Toldi theatre, an hour early for the Fearless Conference.
I needed to travel solo, for my sake and for the sake of keeping it real. As a teacher myself I profess the value of fleeing your comfort zone, self-awareness, diving in deep, going 100% - a solo tour of Budapest would be a measure of my own worth. I met a dude at the door of the theatre, first guy there, I opened my palm and said hello, said he ‘I’m only here having a cigarette’ and walked off. Not an ideal start but a start nonetheless.
The day progressed, I spoke to the folk that gathered, folk of all nationalities, my o.g. pal was Roland from Salsburg, as un-Irish as they come – new folk, new horizons, new conversations. I trudged through the first hour, stunted conversations here and there, some good laughter was welcome, my seat in the dark theatre was more welcome still. It seemed everyone knew one another, I felt invisible for a time.
The speakers were beyond. I sat there fascinated. I drank it in, I ingested it every way possible. This education is worth more than gold, worth more than the 20 years I went to schools and universities – try not to skip school here Doherty, try not to fuck these classes up !
The end of the first day brought good friendships, enlightenment, conversations than flowed like water and some that felt like I was climbing a 20ft high wall. We gathered on the river Danube that evening for a cruise. A table for 6, 6 strangers, Belgium, Holland, Greece, Ireland representatives. We ate Hungarian food, I sought vegetable and spuds. The river Danube, I’d heard of this in tales and film, I’d never imagined I’d sail across her waters. My year til this point was insanely busy and cluttered; family, work, life; I confessed to someone that just a few days before I’d thought this conference was in Romania…a secret that I let slip after a few glasses of juice. We cruised the streets of Budapest that night, chatting with my German friends Susanne and Judith, laughing and talking about life. A random 3some we were, so much in common when you look deeper beneath the surface. I vowed to stay clean of the demon drink this trip, I had 2 weddings in the days immediately following my return.
Day 2, familiar faces, hugs and handshakes – rays of hope and contentment. More hours of epic education, many more trips to the next door bakery, minutes in the sun.
That lunchtime, a chance interview about child-birth from a father’s perspective opened up stories and emotions that had been kept locked away for years. Some tears and laughter, I felt like I’d been to visit a therapist, a girl I’d only met 10 minutes before. What is life really about, why the hell do we continue to exist. It’s a different set of values on everyone’s menu, and I think this conference allowed each believer to not only take comfort that they were on a good path but also open up possibilities that a different mindset can offer.
I gifted myself with an evening in the hotel with a book before my early morning flight back to Dublin. Silence now, reflection, peace…
(Like most of what appears on my blog , I write these scribble of notes so I can remember and try to relive the good energy and the rhythms that made an impact in my life)