A preliminary and rather alarmingly woo-woo perspective on SXSW

I'm still wiped out from my five-day sojourn at SXSW, and I seem to be in good weenie company. It was a notable experience in many ways: my first trip to Austin; my first trip to a real conference; my first trip when I've been on the precipice of a Crohn's flare. But the most notable thing about my trip was that I went without an agenda. Yes, I've long wanted to see Austin, and yes, I was interested in seeing what a big festival was like and sure, it's always nice to do those things in a tax-deductible fashion, but trust me, it's always hard to plunk down a serious amount of hard-earned cash with no guarantee of tangible benefits in return. I'd looked over the list of offerings beforehand, and didn't see that panel or presentation which was going to give me answers to the big questions that consume me nowadays: How do I find that thing that feeds me and the world at the same time? How do I keep body and soul together while I do it? Or maybe, after I find it?

I'm planning to post more about the panels and films I attended later, but my major takeaway I can get to right now:

I will probably not make money with any of my online ventures, present or planned. And I'm okay with that.

I'm okay because I no longer need stuff so much as I need happiness. (Recognition is still attractive to me, but I figure by the time I get any, I won't care much about that, either.)

I'm okay because I saw people up on those daises (which looks a lot like daisies, doesn't it?) who were making money and people who might never and the only thing that I found compelling in either was the passion that drove them.

I'm okay because I found out that for the most part, the people up there on those pretty daisies weren't receiving outrageous renumeration, but maybe a small perquisite in exchange for sharing their time and knowledge.

I'm okay because for five days, I saw passionate, well-crafted films that took years of people's lives to make about topics so obscure and unmarketable the filmmakers couldn't possibly expect to receive adequate renumeration.

And I'm okay because for five days, I was immersed in an atmosphere of nurturing and tolerance and possibility that I'd started to think couldn't exist in this scaredy-ass, me-first world anymore.

More later. Much, much more...

xxx c