Some of the best connections seem to be made on those stairways, especially on days when the weather inevitably turns cold and spitty and attendees instinctively huddle into a mass, the brilliant-and-accomplished shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of us, waiting for the doors to open. Layered in polartec and flannel, wearing hats and gloves pulled from summer storage for the trip, there is a comradery. Inside, the discussions are about problems mostly far away. Outside, we are all ducking the same fierce wind…
And maybe that’s the “why” of Camden – something I have puzzled over for a year now. This is simply not such an easy place to get to for most of us. In fact, it is a schlep with a choice of noisy puddle-jumper plane from Boston, or a car rental and nearly four-hour drive.
Camden is also somewhat remote digitally. Connectivity is a hit-and-miss affair in these parts (hence the day at the library). But even that has its upside. The only choice is to take Ram Dass‘ dictum to heart: “Be here now.”
Last year, I tried the puddle-jumper, a journey that started with the pilot / mechanic / baggage-handler-all-in-one cracking open the cockpit window to shush out a fly as we taxied down the runway. This time, I drove. Boston, of course, is the Bermuda Triangle of traffic, so I knew I would get lost, despite dutifully printing out maps, setting my iPad for step-by-step directions and grilling the car rental lady. No matter. It was a gorgeous day and, theoretically, if I just stuck to Route 1, sooner or later (it turned out later), I would get there. I just hadn’t counted on Route 1 being such a shape shifter, merging identities with other highways, poking through small towns, squiggling around business districts and virtually disappearing in the inky blackness of fresh unmarked asphalt.
By the time I settled in, the past—as in my life prior to this little trip—seemed surprisingly remote. I opened the screen door to a small balcony: Penobscot Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and a nearly full moon with Jupiter, shockingly bright, in tow. Could the journey be the point of Camden? My mind had been jiggled out of deadline-addled, multi-tasking mode. The celestial, primordial scene put all in poetic perspective.
O.k. I am ready. Bring on the Science and Social Innovation fellows (tops on my list of whom I would most like to meet). Wow me with the possible. Frighten me with the truth. Let’s connect some dots. And let’s catch up.
Boynton-McKay is my favorite place for breakfast in Camden. Low on pretension, high on glorious pancakes. But it can get crowded. So…if you see someone with an eye-catching TrackerNews card tucked into her badge, scootch over and make a little room. Actually, make room for any hungry-looking soul. You never know who’s walking around in this crowd. In addition to doing the right thing, you might just get a little bit of kismet with your coffee…