Despite not liking the cold I am crazy enough to love going to Grahamstown, an even colder part of the country in June/July, for the National Arts Festival. This year was my third visit having first gone in 2004 (?) thinking I would then be able to tick it off my list. Instead I am becoming addicted!
We drove down stopping overnight in Middelburg. The next day driving through the Eastern Cape I found myself excited and energised both by the beauty of wide grasslands with fields of red flowers stretching up out of spiky aloes, as well as the prospect of great performances.
We have four sources of energy – physical, spiritual, mental and emotional. Each one is like a muscle. To make a muscle strong it needs enough movement (exercise) to really exert it, but not too much that it takes days to recover. If we utilise our four energy sources in this same way we make our own energy. The beauty of the Little Karoo is for me soul food and soul food is what makes spiritual energy. The excitement of being on holiday and anticipating the shows is emotional energy.
For four days we soaked up three to four shows a day – drama, comedy, dance, physical theatre, orchestral concerts and edutainment. Everything is within walking distance so with your pack on your back you feel like a student wandering this town of churches and schools. We saw amazing talent, laughed and cried. Sometimes walking from one venue to another we would see a sign for an art exhibition and stop in to take a look. Or with a longer gap go off to the Big Field at Rhodes to browse through the Craft Market (lovely leather belts). At night there is the Long Table for a meal with a difference and almost the guarantee that some interesting stranger will strike up a conversation. This year was no exception as we met a retired German couple living in Gouritzbaai spending ten days soaking up shows and interesting lectures. On their recommendation we went off to see another unusual drama after supper.
The walking was physical, the laughing and crying was emotional, some of the content gave food for thought – mental, and for me watching good performances is soul food – spiritual. It hadn’t been planned that way but I had found a way to re-energise myself through all dimensions.
For most of us the quickest ways to make energy are to look for physical and spiritual inputs. Do you have enough of these in your week? If not, make a commitment to just one movement activity to bring into your routine, and pay attention to the things that make your heart soar. When you find them give them regular space in your week.
If you have never been to the Festival and you have any interest in performing arts, visual arts, writing, quality talks or music do yourself a favour and make a plan to visit. Next year’s dates are 28 June to 8 July!