Warhammer 40,000 [v1.1.2 + DLC] (2018) CODEX [MULTI PC] | Empire UK – November 2018 | Big Beach Builds S02E05 Big Beach Dreams 480p x264-mSD 27 minutes

FOMO, the Multiverse, and Doe Bay

Doe Bay

I was reading Neal Stephenson’s book Anathem when my family made its annual pilgrimage to Doe Bay Fest on Orcas Island. It was a hard book to get into in the middle of summer, but sometimes what you read and what you live integrate in the strangest ways.

Many chapters of Jesuit-style Dialogue (sorry, but in this case I have no choice but to capitalize a word as an indicator of significance beyond usual usage) passed without much external action, and it seemed like I was almost halfway through the book before we got to the Neal Stephenson-style sci-fi. (That said, it was impressive how Stephenson’s cast of bright young minds living in a near-medieval monastic environment managed to feel cyberpunk as they thought their way around the authority of the Powers That Be.)

I actually love the Turning Point approach to storytelling, and once I overcame my summertime laziness, it was energizing to be reminded of the joys of rigorous thinking. There was a bit of instruction in the presentation, so it served as a refresher for long-dormant academic skills, which was extremely useful once the story really got into the meat of aliens and alternate realities, because you can’t follow the story without some grasp of modern physics theory, and it’s hard to read slowly and carefully enough once the protagonist leaves the cloister and embarks on the adventure of his Peregrine.

Serendipitously, I recently read Time Travel by James Gleick. Gleick’s book was a history of the concept of time travel that started with H.G. Wells and progressed through relativity, moving almost seamlessly between literary criticism and explanations of heavy duty theory that is better expressed in numbers than words. This narrative historical approach made these theories as accessible as it is possible to be for anyone who never got past basic calculus. Even so, I’ve been nagging my physics-degreed husband to read it so he can explain it to me. I can almost feel like I’ve got a hold on these ideas while I’m reading, but when I try to articulate them for myself, they are gone.

Still, I might have been totally lost in Anathem without the primer I received in Time Travel. Instead, that recent refresher combined with the heightened consciousness of festival life (not a metaphor for drugs, guys – I can’t be the only one who gets a natural high from listening to live music under the open sky for 10 hours a day) to get me lost in Anathem in a much deeper sense.

I’ve already mentioned my issues with FOMO, predating the internet. Festivals can really aggravate that issue, what with their multiple stages and my eclectic tastes often creating scheduling conflicts across multiple stages. One of the things I love about Doe Bay is that they don’t have much overlapping of stages. You can see the bands you like and go kayaking when you’re not interested in the current band. Or if you’re a completist like me, you can spend all morning at the Otter Cove stage and move to the Main Field when it closes and see every single band on the lineup.


Sometimes bands play under the apple tree late at night, or set up on the beach for an “impromptu” set at sunset. These are rarely announced, and the intimate secret shows are considered the best part of the festival. Glued to the main stage, I have always missed out on these little shows. Finding one of them was a goal for me this year. Another goal was to see both The Maldives and the Moondoggies, two local bands with similar-enough names that I always get them mixed up. I had seen one of them live before, but can never remember which one. I was sure that seeing both on the same day would finally clear up my confusion.

The line up at Doe Bay is almost as eclectic as my taste; I’ve seen hip hop, soul, reggae, and electro-pop there. But the bands skew indie rock and folk. While the quality is always high, the Venn diagram of Doe Bay music and my tastes is not a perfect circle. But most years I add a new favorite band.

This year that band was Ballroom Thieves. At the end of their main stage set, they announced a “secret” show on the beach – during the Moondoggies set. All afternoon, overtop of the slight FOMO anxiety, I watched shows and read Anathem between sets.

Moondoggies took the stage. I watched for the first two songs. They were good. Heavier, with a more rocking sound than the sometimes ethereal psychedelia of Maldives. I wanted to see the rest. But partway through the third song I made my way to the beach for Ballroom Thieves. The tide was coming in and there wasn’t much space for band or audience, so everyone huddled close together on the sand.

The band opened by lifting up two jugs of wine.

“For those of you who were here the last time we played Doe Bay – if you do something twice it’s a tradition.” Swigs were taken and jugs were passed around. The sun was still high in the western sky, but it was hidden from us down on the beach where we sat in dusk. Kayakers paddled up to watch the show from the water. The tide was so high they were as close to the band as those of us on the beach.


Ballroom Thieves played a stripped down acoustic set – guitar, cello, and harmonies, with the audience sometimes joining in. It was one of those beautiful, timeless experiences that usually only happen in movies. Sometimes they were almost drowned out by the powerful Moondoggies jam happening on the main stage a couple hundred feet above us, and I could tell from the build and the audience reaction that I was missing an incredible show up in the field. Or was I?

I thought about the time fork generated at the moment I left the main stage for the beach, and could almost feel like I was walking both paths at once, like Anathem’s Fraa Jad. In some other universe, I stayed on the field and rocked out, and it was awesome. Was it comforting to know (if in fact multiverse theories are true) that you never actually Miss Out? Even if I’m usually only aware of my presence in this reality with my current set of choices, can we be satisfied that we are also present other presents where we take the chances we pass up here? Or is there no comfort, as Stephenson’s Fraa Arsibalt claimed in the book, in the anthropic principle? I probably need to reread the last third of the book to actually understand it.

The music above ended with a cacophonous wail, the water lapped over the drummer’s toes down below. Whatever worldtracks I may have been present on that night, it was at least a comfort to know that they were all good.

Deer exploring the beer garden the morning after


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