Last week festival season transitioned to fall arts, and as usual I wanted to see it all. On Wednesday I attended the opening of Seattle’s Decibel Festival (not to be confused with the also-excellent touring metal festival of the same name) and on Saturday I brought my daughter to the first Pacific Northwest Ballet repertory of the season, Jewels. I really wanted to see the Erased Tapes showcase at Decibel on Sunday, and I was sad to have missed the Jewels preview at Seattle Public Library earlier in the week. I didn’t even try to make it to Your Feast Has Ended before it closed, despite how significant the exhibition at the Frye seems to have been. I love the arts; I love the numerous ways they enrich my life. I had a major epiphany at Bumbershoot last year. It reinforced my enthusiasm for the arts, but it’s also the reason that I missed more events than I attended last week.
That day at Bumbershoot, I experienced optimization for the first time, and it didn’t look like what I expected. I was a victim of FOMO (fear of missing out) long before the internet started the epidemic. As a child, I was always afraid of what I miss if I went to bed. It turned me into a completist who collected season tickets and curated skill sets. I catalogue experiences and calendaring is practically a hobby.
But my perfect day at Bumbershoot was mostly unplanned. I had researched my options, of course. I knew the schedule backwards and forwards and had scoped out every food stall. But in the event, we didn’t worry about checking off items on a list, no matter how high their quality. We sat idly watching the visual arts projects develop instead of rushing to the next show. We ate when we felt like it, grabbing whatever was most convenient. It turns out that the optimal human experience is unhurried.
I’ve had plenty of experiences when I dragged myself reluctantly out of the house because I had bought tickets months ago, only to have a fabulous time when I finally got there. But you can’t drag yourself through your entire life. Cutting one experience short to anxiously race to the next one only reduces the quality of both. So I ignored the alert on my phone when it was time to leave for the ballet preview, and sat in conversation with a friend for another hour. On Sunday I puttered around the house, catching up on the tasks that tend to slide when schedules are tight.
And I think my life is richer for it.