'Platitude,' is one word for it. Others call it cliché. Linguists call it semantic satiation. Words or expressions repeated ad nauseam eventually lose their meaning.
It's the reason the word "terrorism" no longer strikes terror in people and it's the reason nobody says Paris is pretty or cabbies are crazy drivers. We've heard it all before.
That's why I won't say "Bonavista is beautiful and enchanting," or "This province produces a staggeringly high caliber of musical talent." I don't want to risk draining those statements of their truth.
I'll just say that, more than money or food, sleep was the most commonly used currency during MusicNL Week. I bartered and traded it in for everything. A half hour to see what the next open mic act will do. Ten minutes for toutons the next morning at my B&B. Ten more to catch the deep red sun rising over Bonavista.
Naive power nap plans were routinely overturned by invitations to dinner at Mifflin's or Boreal. Rigid bedtimes disintegrated to dust before the Lions Club stage. I bartered 45 minutes of sleep for Long Distance Runners. Another 45 for Waterfront Fire. "Midnight" didn't mean bedtime — it meant Young Manics were next. Five minutes to two, was five minutes to Repartee.
Aside from the musical acts, my biggest source of entertainment — and pride — came from watching Newfoundland work its magic on out-of-province delegates.
Hardened city dwellers accustomed to purely transactional encounters are often suspicious of warm, kind people. In a lot of places, people are warm and kind because they have a reason to be. Here, we have no reason not to be.
A workshop presenter arrived on day one, frazzled after the three-hour drive from St. John's that took seven hours. She was concerned about workshop numbers. She asked to change her ticket to go home a day early.
Her stiff politeness reminded me why I left Toronto.
The next morning I watched as participants arrived in her workshop. It was a small group. She began by asking how many people had managers or record deals. Silence. "Who could sell out a 500-seater?," she asked. Crickets.
Slowly and sheepishly, the questions started coming. Soon after, chuckles. Within an hour, the room was as light and loose as a kitchen party.
Over the following days, I watched as her demeanour became warmer, sillier. She danced freely during showcases and looked on with bewilderment at the calibre of each act that took the stage.
By the second-last day, the initial unease had all but oozed from her face, and she got her wish: She changed her ticket to go home a day....later.
Like that presenter, many who attended MusicNL Week never got quite what they were expecting. Leading up, the names of delegates, performers and sponsors reminded me of access passes and assigned seats. Now, those names remind me of hilarious conversations, gentle embraces and heart-wrenching performances.
I went into MusicNL Week ready to put in hours. Now I'm measuring those hours in moments.
I guess that's typical of Newfoundland. We don't do quantity — we do quality. It's not about workshop numbers or record sales or hours on the clock. It's about what those hours are filled with. And they were filled with good people, fine food, and music.