By Courtney Naliboff
It was a warm September day, and the horses had congregated in Fiona’s back yard.
Not horses of the real, equine variety, but a bunch of women and one little girl, gamely wearing silicon horse and unicorn masks in the service of another Bait Bag music video. They trotted, ate apples and carrots, lounged in a hammock, picked flowers, and were generally goofy.
The shoot lasted about four hours, thanks to some really good time budgeting by Fiona Robins, Bait Bag’s guitar player, who also wrote the song (“Horses,” if you hadn’t already guessed) and directed the whole shoot. It was, in retrospect, about as fun a day as I could possibly have had. We even had Bait Bag shows scheduled the night before and the night of the video shoot, so really, the whole weekend was spectacularly fun.
I suppose there were other things I could have been doing that afternoon. I could have tracked down some pallets and started stacking the two cords of hardwood that have been piled in the yard since July. I could have gone into work for a few hours and gotten ahead on my curriculum planning, or cleaned out the choral music files. I could have been working on a number of writing projects.
But instead, here I was, plucking an unplugged bass guitar along with our pre-recorded track and lip syncing “H-H-H-HORSES! Horses horses horses!” as my friends cavorted around me in a scene reminiscent of the Cornish festival of Golowan, which also features a dancing person in a horse head. The sky was a cloudless blue, asters, daisies, salvia, and goldenrod glowed in front of a sparse spruce forest, and there were good snacks.
On an island, we often have to make our own fun. Sometimes this means a potluck or movie night, or taking advantage of one of the offerings at Waterman’s Community Center. And sometimes, the muses have converged just so and you have a band of like-minded women with whom you can make music, a husband who can engineer your album, and friends who are willing to do something really, really silly in the name of art.
When you have that special set of circumstances, you might as well do something with it! And even if you don’t have that specific set of interests, figure out what you do love, and give yourself permission, from time to time, to spend a few hours on that thing with a bunch of like-minded individuals.
Like mushrooming? Grab a mycologist and hit the trails. Want to play Dungeons and Dragons? Why not set up a campaign? Love soccer? Advertise a pick-up game.
Because really, free time is short, and it’s easy to get sucked into the exhausted, dopamine-starved state we find ourselves in when we have a break from work, parenting, board meetings, cooking dinner, and whatever else fills our days.
If I hadn’t had a music video shoot scheduled for that Saturday, I probably would have snuck in a walk (a short one, since I was on call), but it’s just as likely that I would have spent a good chunk of time staring blankly at the internet or taking a nap.
But instead, I was outside, in my friend’s beautiful yard, creatively collaborating with my daughter and some generous and funny women (and one man) to make something completely new, and having a darn good time. We were together, outside of the internet, in the real world, making our own fun, and I can’t wait to do it again.
Courtney Naliboff lives, teaches music and theater, and plays in her band Bait Bag on North Haven.