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10 08 2016

In Buddhist belief, there is an abstract idea that as humans, we are all ONE. It’s a tough one to grasp, it’s trippy and surreal. For years, my interest and love of all things Yoga and Buddhism led me on a wild goose chase for this obscure enlightenment. I will likely never really achieve this but let me tell you one thing, I had a delicious wild taste of this last weekend.

Shambhala.

Definition: a Sanskrit term meaning place of peace/tranquility/happiness. OR: the name of a mythical sacred place.

I set up my camp at the Farm last Monday, got my bearings, my pass, my wristband and parking pass. I toured “downtown” with a sweet couple from the UK I picked up hitch hiking. Fast friends we became. It was at this point I realized I wasn’t nervous anymore. I was excited and hopeful and full of anticipation of what I was about to experience.

I arrived Thursday night, unloaded all my stuff and met up with my camp buddies. As we walked the 15 minute walk to the Stages, my belly and nerves crept on me. I could slowly hear that bass get louder, I could see the lights, I could hear the joy uttered by thousands of people. Strolling by campers, hearing all the excitement…. We arrived, and entered the Amp (Only one of two stages open Thursday evening, the other was The Living Room).

OH. MY. GOD. The bass, the beat, the lights,  the dancing. A smile erupted from the depth of my soul and took over my face and I just couldn’t stop. We danced and danced and danced. Then we meandered down to the Living Room, marveling at all the hidden paths, cool seating, funky people, costumes, lights and all the crazy creative signs that people make and carry. As I danced, I felt my soul loosen up from some sort of shackle and start to free itself from the restraints of normalcy. I let myself GO. What a release. To just be and dance and look around at all these amazing wonderful human beings releasing and dancing and feeling joy.

I sadly had to call it early, as my first 12 hour medical shift was at 8 am the next morning. I worked with a fantastic crew, we laughed and danced and helped people all day long. What a sweet balm to my heart to help with zero judgment for anyone seeking help. Instead, it was all about this mythical “Shambha-love”. Oh hell, call me a bit kooky, but it was real. Tangible and so pure.

After my shift, I donned my tutu and fishnets and corset, I grabbed my water bottle and danced my ass off until the dawn. I met and danced with so many amazing and open-hearted people. I can’t tell you how many hugs I received and gave. I was in constant wonder and bliss and awe. I never once felt in danger, it was never a yucky over-sexualized ass-grab that can occur when alcohol is consumed. Honestly, it was all about our innate Human-ness. Our deep desire to be connected with one another on a level that is beyond our every day life. There were moments that I felt so deeply connnected, I almost cried. It was the most authentic I have felt in a very long time.

My 12 hour night shift was just as fun and exciting. I saw my team truly caring about others, regardless of what was going on. I experienced a depth of humanity spun between Medical, Harm Reduction, Security and ravers. There was no disrespect, there was no disgust, there was no disdain. There was only a level of compassion and protection and honest empathy. I wonder if we could all just tap into this, just maybe this world would be a better place.

One friend told me a while ago that Shambhala changed his life. And now I know why he said this. This authentic honesty and Humanity I felt, received and gave has nestled into my heart,  pushing out some negative judgment, making more room for simple and honest Human love. A love that can connect with all of us.

I fell in love with Shambhala. And I will most definitely be going back. And I hope to see you there.

 

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Comfort zone

11 07 2016

This August I’m stepping out of my sweet cozy little sweatpants-wearing, bed by 9.30 every night, goose-down duvet comfort zone.

I’m packing up my tent, my crazy eyeliner, that funky outfit I bought at a second-hand store, my nerves and my 45-year-old-ass and I am going to Shambhala for the the very first time ever.

ALL BY MYSELF.

I submitted my resume as an MOA to volunteer at the festival, not knowing if they’d be interested in having me on board with Medical.

Lo and behold, I was placed on “Team 3” and I am working two 12-hour shifts at Shambles.

I’m gonna tell you something. I am scared SHITLESS.

I’ll be on my own, even though I know two of the docs I’m working with, as well as one of the EMTs and several other amazing folk who work with harm reduction and medical. I’ll be driving there, not knowing a single thing about anything. I’m greener than green, a Shambles Virgin, a middle-aged gal ticking off shit from her bucket list. Jesus, I am stressed. I do NOT know what to expect. I hear stories, I have had many many people tell me all manners of tales about Shambhala.

Even my husband was skeptical. “You’re really going to that dust pit? With all the ravers?”

Yes. I guess I am.

I’m excited. I’m scared. I’m thrilled. I’m reluctant.

I’ve wavered a million times, telling my fretful self at 2 am that I am TOTALLY emailing HR in the morning and telling them that I can’t commit. And yet morning comes and I am once again more excited than nervous. And I avoid sending that email.

So here we are, the countdown is on. I’m starting to plan on what to pack. I’m hearing tales of Shambalove. I’m told time and time again that I’m going to LOVE it. That I am suited to that place: the energy, the dancing, the love, the vibe.

I’m looking forward to seeing it firsthand without judgement. So many people hate this festival for the “bad apples” it brings to our area. I admit I was one of those. The week before and after is kind of a gong-show in town, with displaced people intent on a party without a whole lot of money in their pocket. But every festival has it’s own issues, and I am pretty sure that the discourse many locals detest is probably not indicative of the majority who attend.

So here I am, ready to go. My nerves are jumbled, my dreams are riddled. But I am ready.

I am ready.