So, how has this Tacoma Weekend compared so far with times past, which have prompted some interesting posts ? Well, right now I feel pretty exhausted like I want to sleep as soon as possible, and I am also listening to a conversation where a father is encouraging his daughters to brush their teeth as I type this, which they seem fairly unwilling to do and I am not sure why. The behavior of other people is definitely something that puzzles me, because I can scarcely figure out why I do some of the things I do, which makes it fairly hopeless to understand what other people are about. If I cannot make sense of myself, how can I hope to understand others, whose interior states and motivations I understand even less than I understand my own complex and byzantine motivations for why I do the things I do.
When I think of a day like today I am reminded of scenes. A day like today is a series of vignettes in which I observe at least as much as I participate, if not more often. Let us take the choir director who feels far worse about the performance of our choir than anyone who heard us sing, which is perhaps but one element of the prayer I had given before our practice that the sound of our performance would be pleasing both to the audience as well as to God. Perhaps the scene is the sight of a gimpy young lady I happen to know having a moody day, not too unusual for a teenager, while she eventually dances with a young man who found it difficult to encounter a willing dance partner. I can relate, except that there were two people who wanted to swing dance with me. Alas, I don’t swing dance. I did end up getting on the floor to dance our customary final song, “With Or Without You,” and that was an enjoyable experience as it usually is, largely because everyone dances in a circle with their arms around the shoulders of the people to their left and to their right. It is a rare chance for someone who tends to feel as isolated as I do to feel connected with the large group of people at a dance like this one.
Perhaps I am oversensitive about such matters. This morning, for example, there was a generally enjoyable interactive Bible Study on the subject of joy, which was the theme for this year’s Tacoma Family Weekend, and also (not coincidentally) the theme of the song that we sang as part of the choir, and in the next table over there were three people I happen to have written about at least a few times in my blog as people who have troubled my sleep and generally made my life more difficult. Perhaps I have troubled their own sleep as well and made their own lives more difficult as well. These things do happen, and I wondered to myself as I saw these three people sitting next to each other talking about the subject of joy not very far away from me if I am the sort of person who just has a difficult time getting along with others or what. It is not as if there were any unpleasant scenes tonight, but there is the endless anxiety of being around people that one knows are not particularly fond of me, but whose presence I am continually aware of because we are involved in the same sorts of activities and because I cannot help but be a hypervigilant person. If such things could be helped, I may not have conversations with these people but I would at least not feel as if we were mutually avoiding interactions of anything but the most superficial kind.
And yet I found it a joyful day, for the most part. It was a tiring day and I was around at least a few people whose presence I find stressful, but all the same I felt a great about of joy. I felt joy because it was a day in general in which my nerdiness was not so much of a disadvantage. Most of the people I interacted with, and there were quite a few, most of whom I knew at least a little but some of whom I did not know very well, were generally pleased by my combination of loud and gregarious conversation on the one hand and a fairly obvious desire to serve on the other hand. One of my consistent approaches to the feelings of isolation I tend to feel in large social occasions is to be conscious and intentional about service. If I am serving at an event, there is little question that I belong there or that my presence is a blessing to others, whereas if I am not serving at an event at least I may have a question as to what I am doing there. I am not the sort of person who is used to having institutions serve my own interests, if they even know or care about such things. At least I may serve as I am able with the talents and gifts that I have, which include being able to pick up music quickly and being generally unafraid of public performance. On a day like today, such joy is enough because one can be sure that the circumstances will be less than ideal. But if one waited for perfect or ideal circumstances one might never leave home, and it would be unacceptable to live in fear, and so one lives in joy to the greatest extent possible, with all the help I can draw upon in such matters.
 See, for example: