I’m sitting on the train and it is pulling out of South Station in Boston, taking me to the heaving metropolis that is New York City. The contrast between the last five days that I’ve spent at a lakeside idyll in New Hampshire and NYC couldn’t be more stark.
I’ve read about Squam Art Workshops for a few years now after I first became aware of the event via Susannah Conway’s stint there several years ago. The idea of secluding myself in the woods of New Hampshire for five days with like minded people sounded so blissful, but I honestly wasn’t ready to participate in Squam at that time. I was at the beginning of all the changes I’ve been through in the last few years, and not nearly far enough down that path to be able to truly appreciate what Squam could really mean.
By late last year, I knew that I needed to be at Squam in the northern spring of 2014, even if I wasn’t sure if I was ready. I wanted to find out for myself whether the magic that everyone wrote about truly existed – whether Squam involved as many unicorns as it seemed.
I arrived at Rockywold Deephaven Camps after a somewhat hair raising drive up from Boston determined to hold my mind and heart wide open to whatever the weekend may bring. In so many ways I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that some part of me was coming home. My first glimpse of the lake confirmed this as strongly as if it was tattooed on me.
After I threw my stuff down in my room in Maple Shade cabin, I opened the love letter that Elizabeth had written to all of the Squamees.
Now you are a blank slate – open and ready for this experience.
Whether this is your first trip to Squam or your sixth – you still need to breathe into THIS moment.
…And then? Follow your heart. Let it lead…. follow it wherever it wants to go. Do what feels good, what feels fun, what is exactly what you most want to do in this moment.
I wept. It was as if Elizabeth had looked into my depths and pulled out exactly what it was I needed to hear.
The next five days were a blur of tiny moments, revelations and soaring hearts. So much laughter, many tears, much love. I was touched and humbled by Narrative Truth, the photography class run by the stunning Amy Gretchen, and broken open and vulnerable by David Anthony Durham’s Story in a Day. The words “privileged” and “grateful” were my constant companions, creativity and inspiration whispering to my spirit all day and late into the night.
Despite the admonition from Elizabeth at the opening ceremony that we shouldn’t be expecting to find unicorns at Squam, in truth I was met by unicorns at every turn. Not the least of these were my beautiful cabin mates – Unicorn Cheryl, Unicorn Jen, Unicorn Christine, and Unicorn Ivy – and Unicorns Sera and Lauren. Late nights, in jokes, knitting and spinning (not me though!) were our cosy cabin evenings, as were constant calls of “No, we’re not going to talk about leaving …!”
Of course, the time came to depart. Following breakfast I introduced myself to Elizabeth so that I could thank her and say farewell. Odd, I know, but my timing was never the best. She stunned me by recognising my Instagram handle and she instantly could see how much my Squam experience had meant to me. That moment of recognising a kindred spirit is a profound one indeed.
Those brief moments with Elizabeth encapsulated Squam so precisely – connection, recognition, acknowledgment, and instant love. I drove away with yet more tears in my eyes, but also with a deep knowing that this was only the end of the beginning. Squam isn’t just a beautiful lake, nor is it merely an event or a gathering. It is a feeling and a spirit that we all bring with us to that magic place, and we take it back with us to illuminate our lives until it is time again to gather on those New Hampshire shores.
Until next year, Squam.