3 Old Men: Labyrinth walls—the Pleatening

“Dale,” I hear you asking1, “I understand that you’ve hemmed six football fields worth of muslin strips…

A football field and a half of handkerchief hemming

“…but how on earth do you do the pleats and create the pockets that the tent stakes slip into?”

I’m glad you asked.

First of all, cardboard templates are your friend. I make mine out of Ram Board, a miracle substance carried by Home Depot.  Every home should have at least one roll.

Here’s what happens.  For every tent stake in the labyrinth I make a pocket, reinforced on each side with a pleat.  When I finish a pocket, I use my handy chart to measure from its center to the center of the next one.  Then I position the template:

Here you can see the center mark:

On either side of the 4-inch pocket, there is a 2-inch pleat.

On the left hand side, things are a little different.  Usually I just mark the 2-inch pleat, but sometimes I have to insert a salvaged piece from an earlier mistake, or I run out of fabric.  Since a bolt of muslin is 25 yards, i.e., 75 feet, and these long walls are 108 feet, this adaptation is inevitable.  We’ll deal with that process in a moment.

Mark the pleats on the bottom and the top, draw lines on either side of the template, then connect the other lines using the template as a straightedge.

As it says on the template, pleat the outside line to the inside line.

Topstitch the pleat on both sides.  I’ve found that it’s easiest/best to topstitch the edge on top, then flip and do the backside.

Here are both pleats topstitched.

To create the pockets, fold the fabric in half and pin both pleats.  Use the other cardboard template to mark two inches down from the top of the pocket.

Topstitch again, this time backstitching both ends of the seam.   This is to keep the stitches from unraveling, of course.  The two inches at the top are for an eventual channel for LD lighting.  That’s right, the 3 Old Men labyrinth will glow in the dark.  It will be beautiful beyond measure.  (I will actually go back and stitch that 2-inch channel across the entire wall, but that may not happen before Alchemy.)

So what about those times when you run out of fabric and have to tack on the next strip? Or where you have planned to insert sections of fabric salvaged from an earlier screw-up of epic proportions?  Here we see my chart of measurements which shows how long each segment of the wall needs to be, plus the ID of each tent stake.  That’s to help me keep track of where I am in the 108 feet.  See the green capital letters?

Those are the salvaged sections, which I measured and labeled:

So when I measure the section before the insert, I mark the left-hand side of the pocket like so:

There’s a 1-inch piece—the bottom of the pleat—then a half-inch section for the seam.  That’s where I cut.

I take the salvaged section and pin it to the wall, wrong sides together:

Stitch it, iron it flat, put the template back into position, and mark the left hand side of the template, i.e., complete the left hand pleat.

The seam allowances are thus concealed within the pleat, and the wall looks as if it’s made from one continuous strip of muslin.

And there you have it.  A long and boring post, you say?  Try doing this process 144 times. Thank you.


1  Unless those are the voices in my head. Hard to tell.

3 Old Men: Labyrinth progress

I know, these are boring posts.  Listen—if I have to sit through six football fields of handkerchief hems, so do you.

Yesterday, I finished — after a tremendous false start — the northeast wall, the first “long” wall, about 108 feet long.  Here’s what that looks like:

Three more to go.  I got started on the northwest wall, but then ran out of fabric.  My new good friends Gary and Cathy Sackett had volunteered to pick up the two bolts of muslin I had, then wash, iron, and cut them into strips, so while I’m waiting on that I decided I would tackle the mat for entrance with the body paint bowl.  (This mat is to catch the spills of kaolin body paint—we’re serious about Leave No Trace.)

My brilliant idea was to make it an octagon the same size as the center of the labyrinth, so I went and got nine yards of 60″ cotton duck (like canvas), cut it in half, and stitched that together.  Here’s the 9×10 foot piece of fabric:

It’s YOOOOGE, as Donald Trump would say.  Or rather, as Wonkette would say Donald Trump would say.

The classic geometer’s tools were the compass and the straightedge, and so I improvised:

Not shown: an old 8-foot piece of 2×2.

Here’s how to do construct an octagon, given a square of the appropriate diameter:

See that in the lower right?  Using the diagonal radius of the square, swing an arc up to the side of the square and mark it.  Repeat.

First I had to construct a square, which is simple, really, just swing a couple of arcs to bisect the center seam and create a perpendicular line, then go from there.

Needless to say, my improvised tools were not quite… accurate.

I eventually got an octagon marked out, but it was very wobbly.

That’s when I remembered that I had a staff…

…which was marked…

…so that I could lay out an 8-foot square and then…

…mark the sides of an octagon.


Add two inches around the edges for hemming purposes, cut it out…

…then iron the hems and stitch them down.

And done.

Next up, figuring out the eftest way to secure it to the ground so that hippies don’t trip over it or snag it and topple the tripod with the bowl of kaolin.

3 Old Men: Labyrinth progress

Take a deep breath.

I just finished the SOUTH — OUTER wall.  That’s all the “short walls” done.

Which means…

But never mind that now.  Here’s a photo of it in semi-action:

My poor labyrinth needs rain, reseeding, and cooler weather.  In the meantime, notice the majestic way the wall marches along, especially in the furthest panels there where the stakes are the actual stakes, i..e, tall enough.

Side view:

Again, the panels on the left are being help up by the actual size tent stakes; further along the wall  is being held up by shorter stakes.

I calculated yesterday that for every bolt of muslin that I split in two, I have sewn the length an entire football field in handkerchief/rolled hems.  So far, that’s three football fields, with three more to go.  That’s just to prep the panels so I can then pleat in the pockets for the stakes.

Likewise, I have used over 20 football fields of thread so far; that will probably end up being closer to 50 than not.


3 Old Men: Labyrinth upgrade progress report

You will recall that I received hippie funding to upgrade the 3 Old Men labyrinth from this…

…to this (artist’s conception)…


I am here to tell you that while the sewing is not difficult, it is tedious in the extreme.  I am blogging at this moment in order to avoid going downstairs and prepping yet another bolt of muslin for washing, cutting, and hemming.  Yes, that’s right, I split an entire bolt of unbleached muslin in twain, then handkerchief-hem both sides of both strips.  It takes an hour to do each strip, mindlessless folding 1/4″ hems and stitching them down, yard after yard.

Then the actual sewing starts.  I’ve been working a couple of weeks, off and on, and here’s where I am as of yesterday afternoon:


What you see there is about two bolts of muslin.  I bought two more yesterday, and they might be enough to finish the four long walls.

I keep talking about the “long walls” with dread and horror and I’m not sure everyone understands what I mean.  Here is one of the long walls:

It’s over 100 feet long, and it’s one of four.  And while the lesser walls are all symmetrical and made of panels of identical size, the long walls are a mishmash of lengths as they meander inwards across the octagons, ending with those little 9″ panels at the inner entrances.

Oh well.  I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.

3 Old Men: an update and an upgrade

It occurs to me that I have not kept everyone up to date on the goings-on of the 3 Old Men, the ritual troupe to which I belong.

First, I have to say that this year has not gone according to my plan, which was to attend beaucoups regional Burns and gather experiential data, then present my findings at The Labyrinth Society’s Annual Gathering in October.  I had planned to get to Euphoria, Apogaea, Transformus, Burning Man itself, and Alchemy again.  Hey, I’m retired.

Tickets can be hard to come by, but for some reason I am an ace at snagging them.  (Yesterday, for example, I snagged four more tickets to Alchemy even though I put in my credit card’s CVC number after I hit submit.)  I got tickets for Euphoria, Apogaea, and Burning Man, and the only reason I didn’t get tickets to Transformus is that it was my birthday and I didn’t hear my phone reminding me to stop partying and go sit in front of the computer.

However.  I was cast in Born Yesterday at the Springer Opera House and had to miss Euphoria.  (3 Old Men went without me.) Apogaea was cancelled after the organization couldn’t work out the permit situation.  Finances prevent me from heading to the Playa in August.  And of course, the whole project is moot since my seminar proposal for the TLS Gathering was not accepted.  Do they not know who I am??

So Alchemy it is, and I’m not unhappy about that at all.

As successful as the labyrinth was at Alchemy and Euphoria, there was one thing about it that bothered me and did from the very beginning: it wasn’t pretty.

If you will recall, its design was influenced by a couple of Burning Man considerations, since the original plan was to schlep it out to Black Rock Desert and back.  It had to be portable and Leave No Trace, and it had to be visible in the dark so that the hippies wouldn’t trip over it and kill themselves.

Hence, the tent stakes and rope construction:

In terms of meditative space, this is not optimal.  The colors are awful: fluorescent orange and yellow are not conducive to inner peace.  Visually, it’s confusing; it looks more like a spider web than anything, and people wandering by were often confused about what it was.  It was hard to get people interested in it unless they walked up and asked.

So one morning as I was waking up, a scathingly brilliant idea formed itself in my mind: sew little “walls” of muslin to fit over the stakes.  Ditch the rope entirely, and cover the orange stakes with fabric.  Genius!!

With my usual fervor for scathingly brilliant ideas, I set to work and mocked up the idea:

Simplicity itself.  Naturally, I’ve complicated it a bit since then: the stake pockets will have a kind of flat-fell seam on either side for additional sturdiness, and the stitching will stop short two inches from the top.  That’s so we can insert light wire into the tops at some point soon, which will be awesome.

Here’s the artist’s conception:

I mocked up several versions that included colors/shades.  Each one was striking in its own way, but it didn’t take long for the group to state their preference for the plain white muslin—which was a relief to those of me who will have to construct it.

We then presented the concept for funding from Alchemy.  (Full disclosure: I served as the web content person for the fundraiser team.  That’s actually what gave me the idea to submit our project.)

Here’s how the Alchemy fundraiser works: artists present their ideas for funding, are vetted for budget, scope, etc., and then everyone shows up at some venue with their trifold boards to tout their projects.  Hippies pay admission to the event and purchase “schwag” (cups, t-shirts, etc.), and all their dollars count as votes to be assigned as they see fit.

The event itself was actually exhilarating.  I knew all 49 projects, having created the online fundraiser webpages for each of them, but being there and feeling the energy, the dedication, the expertise of all my fellow hippies was stunning.

Of course, it looked like some demented middle school science fair:

There were food projects, light projects, sculptures, fire projects.  (I’m working on getting all the funded projects up on the Alchemy website—I’ll let you know when it’s up.)

Here’s our little backboard, with our official 3 Old Men photographer, Roger:

We spent the evening explaining the project to passersby.  You can see, right behind Roger, the mock-up I did of the fabric wall; that helped explain what we were funding.

The really great thing about the event was the number of people—nearly all of them—who knew who we were.  They’d seen us at Alchemy and Euphoria and thought we were cool.  The best was a story that I heard from three separate people, all of whom had camped across from us at Euphoria: they (Camp Business Casual) were chilling in camp one evening when Craig and Michael began the ritual.  They said they began to watch the ritual, and the conversation went along the lines of “Hey, look at those guys—they’re doing something—they’re doing something—that’s not just hippies [screwing] around, that looks important!

It warmed the cockles of my heart.  It would have warmed them further if they had felt impelled to rise from their camp chairs and go across the road to participate, but that’s another problem for another day.  (I was also told by one young lady that she was fascinated but found the Old Men scary.)

Enough people cast votes for us that we’re fully funded for this visual upgrade to the labyrinth, so yea hippies!  There’s paperwork to fill out, and then I get a check and can get started on washing, ironing, cutting, and stitching those walls.  All straight seams, but mercy—it’s thousands of yards of stitching between now and September.

Step One: go out to Craig’s tomorrow and set up the labyrinth so I can measure the walls.  Stay tuned.

3 Old Men: a new bowl

As part of the ritual that the 3 Old Men perform in their labyrinth (at regional Burns here and there), we apply liquid kaolin as body paint before walking the labyrinth and assuming our posts as officiants.  We have the kaolin in a bowl on a plant stand at the north entrance; the officiants are at the other entrances to the labyrinth.

We used a stainless steel bowl that I had picked up at a discount store—my impulse was to use a nice piece of pottery, but I was afraid that it might get knocked over and break.  The plant stand is placed on uneven ground, after all.

At any rate, the stainless steel bowl vanished sometime after Alchemy last fall and I haven’t seen it since.  Not a problem: it was cheap, and there were plenty more where that came from.

But last week in Fernandina Beach we were in Hunt’s Art & Artifact Gallery, one of our favorite stores there—my quartz singing bowl came from there—and I found this:

I was immediately taken with it.  It’s not too large, easily fits into one’s outstretched hands (we hold the bowl for each other), and will be easily cleaned from all that white clay.  I think, too, that if it were to fall to the ground it would easily survive the fall.

It’s made of stone from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, and the white bits are actually fossilized Orthoceras, little squids from 450 million years ago.  Pretty cool, actually.  (Even cooler, part of the Atlas Mountains were formed when North America and Africa collided at one point—and the remains of that can be found in the Appalachians and the Fall Line!)

And since we’re dealing with hippies, I will quote what I found in my search for nice photos, found on a site with healing crystals and such:

Fossils are believed to increase life span, reduce toxins, anxiety, stress, balance the emotions, make one more confident. Containing supernatural and physical healing powers. They promote a sense of pride and success in business. Healers use fossils to enhance telepathy and stimulate the mind. Traditionally, fossils have been used to aid in  reducing tiredness, fatigue, digestive disorders, and rheumatism.

Sure.  I think that about covers it.

Anyway, we have a new bowl, and I’m thinking we need a new stand for it.  Stand by for details later.

3 Old Men: Tentage

Camping with the Hippies™ is great fun, but there are challenges.  At Alchemy last October, I had borrowed my son’s tent, a perfectly cromulent “3-person” dome tent.  (N.B.: the number of persons a tent can hold is calculated by wrapping campers in sleeping bags and stacking them like cordwood.)

Since I had covered it with a huge tarp, first for rain protection and then for added insulation against the cold, getting in and out of it involved crawling through the entrance like Eskimos into an igloo.

And then inside, all our stuff was just strewn on the floor between the air mattress and the walls, and all the other stuff was stuffed into the plastic tubs outside, also covered with the tarp.

Worst of all, you crawled in, you flopped around, you crawled out.  There was no standing.

I had borrowed the tent because I (meaning one of us in the relationship) wanted to make sure that Camping with the Hippies™ was something we were going to want to do more than the one time.  As we all know, it is definitely something we (meaning me) want to do on a regular basis.

Since then, I’ve been researching and browsing and shopping for a permanent tent solution, and this weekend I made my move.  If you do your due diligence, you know that January is a great time to buy tents, because who in their right mind is going to go camping in the dead of winter (Frostburn notwithstanding)?  And lo! Academy Sports+Outdoors had some of their tents on clearance.

Here were my criteria: it had to be a cabin-style tent, i.e., tall enough for humans to walk through the entrance and stand up in.  It had to be large enough to sleep the two of us plus store all the tubs of stuff plus give us room to organize the stuff, change clothes, etc.

And so, behold the Coleman Instant Tent 10!

Instant Tent 10

Yes, I bought a tent big enough to sleep ten people for the two of us.  Notice the trimly rectangular carrying case.  Hold that thought.

Out of its trimly rectangular carrying case:

Instant Tent 10

The deal with Coleman’s Instant Tent series is that the tentpoles are permanently attached and hinged, reminiscent of an umbrella in their construction.  The trimly rectangular carrying case promises a 60-second setup, although it cautions that the “first time” may take longer.  Indeed, I can imagine some kind of Tent Olympics where a smoothly rehearsed team could get this thing erect in 60 seconds, but even if you accomplish that feat you still have to adjust the legs and the floor, and stake the thing out.

Fortunately, Camping with the Hippies™ is not a race, so who cares how long the thing takes to set up if a) it’s easy; and b) the results are good.

Instant Tent 10

We begin the setup process.

Instant Tent 10

Lots of pulling and tugging and figuring out the realities of the minimal instructions.  Trying to figure out which side is the long side so that we can fit it onto the far side of the labyrinth.


Instant Tent 10

A little lopsided, but it’s up, it’s staked, and all parts are accounted for.  Notice the dangling flap thing inside.  This is an actual room divider, for which some of our party had devoutly wished because of privacy who even knows.  It’s not mentioned on the trimly rectangular carrying case, and so it was a pleasant surprise.

Of course, “privacy” has little meaning in a setting where the showers are neither private nor segregated, and half the hippies you see are unclothed to some extent.  But hey, we can put up a wall if we want to.

Another view.

Instant Tent 10

And here we have the happy tent owner, standing in his new domicile.

Instant Tent 10

What goes up must come down, and this is where we need to return to our trimly rectangular carrying case.  Of course nothing ever folds up as neatly as it was originally packaged—how those third-world workers do it, I’ll never know—and the Instant Tent 10 is no exception.

We collapsed it, rolled it up, rolled it over the ground as suggested in the instructions to smoosh air out of it and get it back down to a reasonably sized bundle.  But it would not go back into the trimly rectangular carrying case.  We took it out and tried again, but it was impossible.

We tried standing the carrying case up and pushing the tent down into it, thinking that might give us a good start on stuffing it in there.  And that’s when I noticed that the label on the bottom of the case had a large arrow on it.

Aha, I thought, instructions on which end should be up!  I leaned closer to read: “Tear the label off between the seams to expand.”


I ripped the label off, the bottom of the trimly rectangular carrying case breathed a sigh of relief, and it accordioned out into a nice middle-aged carrying case into which the Instant Tent 10 slid with no problem whatsoever.

So now we’re ready to go Camping with the Hippies™ in style.  We’re already looking at oriental carpets to lay down on the floor for that extra fillip of éclat and comfort.  I’ll keep you posted.


3 Old Men: mapping the field of ritual, redux, part 6

: Ritual action :

[original post here]

What kinds of actions are performed as part of the rite, for example, sitting, bowing, dancing, lighting fires (!), touching, avoiding, gazing, walking?  In what order to they occur?  … What are the central gestures?  … What actions are not ascribed meaning?  What actions are regarded as especially meaningful and therefore symbolic?  What actions are regarded as efficacious rather than symbolic?  What meanings, causes, or goals do participants attribute to their actions? … Which actions are repeated?  What gestures mark transitions?  What are the recurrent postures?  What qualities of action persist—quickness, slowness, verticality, hesitance, mobility, linearity, exuberance, restraint?  Are parts of the rite framed theatrically? … What parts of the body are emphasized by participants’ kinesthetic style?  … How do the social and environmental contexts influence the actions?  What actions are done with objects? …  What actions are optional, required?

So much questions…

One thing I found fascinating was the way we arrived at Alchemy with having gone through the ritual only once, and yet it was cemented, fully formed—and it was still allowed to grow in a very organic way.

For example, no one determined that after donning body paint each Old Man would wait to enter the labyrinth until the Man before him had reached and left the center, yet that became our standard action.

There was no prescribed method of painting oneself; everyone did as they felt best (especially as it got colder!). Personally, I think we looked best as a group when we covered our entire torsos.

Our solutions to initiating a walk to the next station evolved, and I remember the first time we did that, Joe just naturally walked from the west to the east, not stopping at the north entrance where the paint was. It seemed right, and so that’s what that part of the ritual became. It also worked when Wolf showed up with a fully worked out protocol for those who wanted to be relieved by another Old Man—thank goodness, since I was the first one to succumb, to dehydration I think.

The opening of the ritual I think was nearly perfect. I think our decision to strip and paint ourselves was the right one. Not only did it play off the infamous “drop-trou” atmosphere of Burns, it underlined the ritual transformation of campers into Old Men: we shed our daily garb; exposed our bodies and marked them with the other-worldly white of the body paint; took the journey into the labyrinth, stopping in the center for whatever private moment we each made there and then emerging to our station; donned our skirts and took up our staffs; and there we stood, newly born as officiants.

(And then of course, the reverse process: stripping off the skirt, retracing our steps into the labyrinth, and emerging to reassume our daily personae.)

As for the “qualities” of these actions, it seemed to me that we all invested our time as Old Men with seriousness and grace. For our participants, there was room for laughter, for talking, for serious meditation and blessing, for shenanigans; throughout, the Old Men were protective and alert.

The question I had of making the installation of the labyrinth a ritual—still unresolved. That might be a good excuse to get together next spring out at Craig’s and explore. For one thing, Old Men Who Aren’t Dale should be able to construct the labyrinth without me. More work is required there.

Craig has talked about developing a “walkabout” ritual, really the original concept for 3 Old Men: us in our skirts and staffs walking through the Burn. I think it would be very easy to institute: effect the transformation, then line up and head down the road to the Promenade and up to the Effigy. What would we do once we go there? More work is required.

We also need to develop a more betterer “acolyte” role, one that Christine created on the spot. Perhaps the idea of a carnival barker is not particularly apt, but we need to work on ways to invite the rubes passersby into the experience. More work is required.

Anything else? It’s tough analyzing an ineffable experience.

3 Old Men: mapping the field of ritual, redux, part 5

: Ritual sound & language :

[original post here]

What is the role of silence in the rite? … Do the people consider it important to talk about the rite, avoid talk about it, or to talk during it?  Are there parts of the rite for which they find it difficult or impossible to articulate verbalizable meanings? … How important is language to the performance of the rite?  What styles of language appear in it — incantation, poetry, narrative, rhetoric, creeds, invective, dialogue?  In what tones of voice do people speak?  … To what extent is the language formulaic or repetitious? … How much of the language is spontaneous, how much is planned?

The ritual itself, the transformation of Old Men, was done in silence, and I think it was good that way. I don’t know what others were doing, but I was soaking in the energy and trying to return it to my fellow Old Men and to the space. I think also that the visual of the Old Men performing their ritual in silence—as if we’d been doing this for years instead of for the second time in our lives—was quite compelling and beautiful.

(Think about that last bit, guys: we’d literally done the ritual only once before, at the runthrough out at Craig’s in September. We had no official way of making assignments or changes—and yet we did. More than one burner was astonished to find that we were Alchemy virgins, and a lot of their impression came from watching the solidity of the ritual. It looked ancient.)

Of course language was important to the agons—we had to engage the participant with the blessings/struggle. As far as I know, we didn’t actually codify the language there, although I don’t think anyone strayed very far from, “May I bless you?” / ”Will you bless me?” / “I offer you a struggle.” It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

And then language became critical for the experience: either our improvised blessing or theirs, and the choice of the struggle. Silence played its role as well: I never explained the struggle to the participant, just pushed into the space and did what felt right. Question for discussion: did anyone else develop specific language/actions for their versions of each agon?

As for talking about the rite, many people did and thought it was important to do so. I agree. I like to hear what people brought to the experience and what they got out of it. I think Craig’s instincts are correct that we should eventually provide a “decompression” space, perhaps with food and/or music.

Music was always welcome. Will’s Bach suites were amazing, and of course after sundown we always had Incendia for company. I do wonder how, if we added drumming, bells, or flute laying as a regular thing, that would work with Incendia going full blast.

3 Old Men: mapping the field of ritual, redux, part 4

 : Ritual identity :

[original post here]

What ritual roles and offices are operative—teacher, master, elder, priest, shaman, diviner, healer, musician?  How does the rite transform ordinary appearances and role definitions?  Which roles extend beyond the ritual arena, and which are confined to it? … Who initiates, plans, and sustains the rite?  Who is excluded by the rite?  Who is the audience, and how does it participate?  … What feelings do people have while they are performing the rite?  After the rite?  At what moments are mystical or other kinds of religious experience heightened?  Is one expected to have such feelings or experiences? … Does the rite include meditation, possession, psychotropics, or other consciousness-altering elements?  … What room is there for eccentricity, deviance, innovation, and personal experiment? … Are masks, costumes, or face paint used as ways of precipitating a transformation of identity?

Again, I think there are two rituals going on in our camp: the ritual we perform to become Old Men, and then the ritual experienced by those who walk the labyrinth. I’ll try to keep them straight as I move through this section.

I don’t know how others felt, but I for sure felt as if I were elder, priest, and occasionally a shaman while I was in our ritual. The transformation from Alchemy camper into Old Man never failed to ring true for me. I felt not necessarily exposed, but opening to the onlookers: “This is my body,” if you will. “I mark it, I draw attention to it, I show you the way in, and now I become an Old Man who can assist you. Follow.”

While officiating, I felt very calm—outside time—while at the same time alert to the participants and their choices. I found myself reviewing the original list of traits: solemnity, compassion, serenity, wisdom, openness, and groundedness, and trying to embody and project those to onlookers and participants.

Someone commented that they noticed that I smiled much of the time. Truthfully, it was a conscious decision on my part to return all the positive energy that I was absorbing to the environment. Alchemy and 3 Old Men made me very happy, and I wanted to give that back.

It is interesting that in the original post I was still dithering about the body paint and the nudity. I was fairly sure that it was what we needed, but at that point the troupe was all my theory and no real practice. Needless to say, it was amazing to perform and to watch. I’ll have more thoughts about this element in a couple of days when I talk about ritual action.

I am very curious as to what people’s feelings were when they walked the labyrinth. That’s one thing I want us to do better in the future: collect responses, either through interviews or with some kind of book people could write in.

Was there room for “eccentricity, deviance, innovation, and personal experiment”? You betcha. I think that’s one of the strengths of 3 Old Men, that we opened the labyrinth for others to build their own experiences. It never bothered me to see people romping through it, or stepping over the ropes to be ‘clever’ in ‘finding the way out.’ Everyone brought what they needed and took what they needed.

As I said in the original post:

I expect to see people walking the labyrinth in silence and prayer; singing and dancing; giggling and inattentive; naked; stoned and lost; smirking and cynical; hurriedly.  I expect drummers and other musicians to join us.  I expect people to be puzzled or put off by the offer of an agon; I expect some to accept it gratefully, with tears, with joy.  I expect to be quizzed—”What is this about?  How do I do it?”  I expect to be ignored.  I expect to have others expect me to be something more than I have offered.

And I expect to be transformed by all of it, to learn more about my identity as an Old Man.

And so it was.