Never thought I would learn so much from 30,000 people –
It has been four months since I was laid off. For the first few weeks, as I look back on it now, I went through a mild depression. I don’t remember the last time I felt so bad about myself, except a couple of times in my nine year journey to get pregnant. I had so many questions – Why me?, Why now? Why, when I thought I was finally on a path to work on my career after years of supporting my husband and his career? What did I do wrong? Why was someone not able to discuss the issues with me so I could work on them and keep my job? These questions went on and on in my mind.
Then I finally snapped out of it, decided to collect unemployment and since we had saved up a ton of money, I wanted to take some time to think about how I would move forward with my career.
Some of the things I’ve been doing since is writing more on Women On It, reading more, spending more time with Asia (my dog), cleaning out and reorganizing my home and helping out some friends.
Further Future happened during the last weekend of April and even though I had a good time, I was still struggling with a lot of things on my mind. I wrote about my experience in a piece called The Ability to Let Go.
Lightning in a Bottle, on the other hand, was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had. Thankfully I was able to let go and really enjoy myself. I had a bit of initial anxiety, thinking about how many people were attending compared to how many attended Further Future. When I was told 30,000 people would be attending, compared to 5,000 at Further Future, I was hesitant. But I have to tell you, I never thought I would experience so many people in one area co-existing in perfect harmony. Really, it’s true!
And it’s not just about the harmonious co-existence, let me share with you all the things I learned from 30,000 people.
1. Music is the great unifying force
Music is truly the one thing that brings people together in a positive, uplifting way. And with that, dancing is a great outlet for self-expression.
2. More brings us together, than tears us apart
In light of the current political landscape, you would think we are living in pretty divisive times and politically speaking, we are. Yet, here I was, with 30,000 people from all walks of life, different religious and political backgrounds, different ethnicities, different ages and different sexual orientations and you know what? No one cared. We were all there to get away from the daily grind and from what, on the surface, is dividing us. We were all there to unwind, let go, dance, do yoga, meditate, eat delicious, healthy food and connect with new people.
3. People honestly care about the planet
Everywhere you went, there were these areas that had three separate sections for waste. One for landfill, one for recycling and one for composting. If you even thought twice about throwing paper products in the landfill section, or throwing food products in the recycling section, you were frowned upon or someone corrected you. It was remarkable to see. Not only that, but each vendor had to use composting plates, bowls and utensils. How refreshing!
4. Everyone was non-judgmental
As I mentioned above, Lightning in a Bottle had 30,000 people of all backgrounds, ages and sexual orientations. No one cared who you were, where you came from, what your sexual orientation was, what bathroom you used, if you were overweight or too skinny, what you were wearing and so on. It was one of the most liberating and accepting environments I’ve ever been in. Imagine if everyday society operated like this? Is it possible? I think so.
5. The positive role these festivals play in our lives
I finally get it. I finally understand why people attend these festivals year after year. I will say, festivals like Coachella don’t really interest me and correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Coachella creates this type of mindful, down-to-earth environment. However, Lightning in a Bottle, Electric Forest, Burning Man, Symbiosis, etc., I believe these festivals play an important, positive role. It allows people to let go and come together in a way our society doesn’t allow us, unfortunately. I think we have a lot to learn from them and how we can work on making society better and healthier for us.
I know what you’re going to say, that many if not most people are taking drugs. Sure they are! I wasn’t, my husband wasn’t and we met tons of people that were not. Is that what helps to create this wonderful environment? No, I really don’t think so. And if no drugs were involved, I think everything would remain the same. Were there a very small handful of people that could not control their drug or alcohol intake, which created a negative experience for them and those around them? Sure, but it was a drop in the bucket of everything else that happened.
Lightning in a Bottle has given me a new perspective of humanity. I look forward to attending next year. I look forward to the day when we can extend this experience into everyday society and live more harmoniously, happy and healthy.