What do you say when you experience something so completely new and different and exhilarating you can't even deal?
I know it sounds dramatic, but after being home for a week from my first Coachella adventure, I'm still trying to figure it out.
To say I loved it would be an understatement.
It would be more accurate to say I loved it so much that it imprinted on my being.
I feel how I imagine one would feel after being inducted into a Cult... but with less pig's blood shed.
I want to go back.
I want to see my festival friends and drink from coconuts and lay on the grass in the toasty California sun.
I want to drink beer and dance like a maniac for hours on end and feel music so loud it's pulsating in my veins.
I want to live in cut-offs and keds and a fanny-pack for all time and not feel weird about it.
Sure the crowds kind of blow at times (there may have been an agoraphobic melt-down on my part during one specific trek to the restrooms where I almost drowned in humans), but then you all line up together to see your favorite bands, and you become a collective group, united in a love of music and art and everything good in the world, and it's truly transcendent.
Of course I missed air conditioning, and Broad City, and a diet consisting of more than beer and sliders, but in Coachella-Land, none of that seems to matter.
Here are some of the ways Coachella changed my life:
1. It taught me to Live in the Moment
As much as I don't like to admit it, (I like to fancy myself a free spirit) I am a worrier and a planner and everything in between. Giving myself up to the moment is not always my strong point. But this experience has been a wake-up call to the amazingness that waits if you just live in the here and now. Vibrating with happiness, body paint, and synergy, this whole situation has reminded me how much fracking fun it is to stop worrying about the future and enjoy life as each experience happens. Whether it's discovering new music, meeting new people or renewing your love of food trucks, every minute brings the potential of something wonderful, and if you're too busy thinking ahead, you might miss it.
There are a lot of people there. And it would be easy for that large a mass to turn in to something aggressive or scary, but instead it's uniting and lovely. There's limitless alcohol and limited altercations. Everyone introduces themselves and helps you, and you make friends. It's all people who treat each other with respect and are all there with the same goal to have a good time and enjoy something they love. You are surrounded by 90,000 people who are all there to be the best versions of themselves. And it's amazing.
Within minutes of my arrival, I realized I would not be anywhere near the best dressed/thinnest/most attractive/most stylish/everything else person there. But instead of being depressing, it was freeing. It allowed me to stop caring so much because there are so many beautiful, wonderful, stylish people there, and because there's such a high number, the comparisons just kind of stop. There's people of every imaginable size, shape, ethnicity, lifestyle - everything. And throughout the weekend, everyone just starts to look the same - in a good way. You're all just there to have fun, and that's where the focus turns.
4. It Taught me to Follow my Instincts
There is so much happening there at all times, it can get a little overwhelming. I learned something that's incredibly valuable for festivals and real life equally: Throw out the agenda. It's a guideline. It's changeable. Headed to see a band but hear something cool coming from a different stage? Go check it out, you may find something amazing. (Hello, Austra!). Follow your instincts. That's what they're there for. Your plans are blueprints, not a foundation. Trust your gut and amazing things will follow.
5. It Broke Down my Social Barriers
As strange as it may seem, I can actually have a tendency to be pretty shy in big groups. But over the course of the festival, you all become a tribe, loyal to each other and open to making new friends of all kinds. And even though I kindly turned down the copious amounts of drugs that were offered to me, it was still a sincere gesture that often led to interesting conversations about everything from music to relationships to theoretical questions and more. Trust people. Be the change you want to see.
6. It emboldened me
From wearing shorts in public, to opening myself up to new bands/experiences/obstacles, this adventure has made me a braver and more courageous person. I've been filled with not only renewed vigor to attempt things that scare me, to make changes in my life, and to challenge myself to push myself and try new things, but a thirst for it.
7. It put me in touch with the outdoors
When you're outside for 4 straight days, you can't help but become more in-tuned with nature. We camped on site the whole time in this wonderful little shanty-town tent village. And when you're responsible for your own shelter, you really notice if it's windier or hotter and so forth, and you act accordingly. It also made me appreciate sunsets and outdoor smells and the rise in heat as the day wears on. You can lay down in the grass for hours and no one will bother you unless it's to make sure you're ok. It's Urban Camping at it's finest, and it's all pretty hippy-dippy, and very very cool.
8. It made me realize I can do anything
Freedom from society for a long weekend also means freedom from all the restraints and implications and fears that go along with it. I also got to see some of my favorite artists on the planet (Bryan Ferry, you GOD, you), and taught me to take risks, to create more work, and to put it out there for people to see. Living in this bizarre, artistically fueled but structureless world for a few days rid me of comparison-fever and reminded me of my love of creating and that I'm capable of accomplishing anything I want.
9. It helped me separate from technology
I'm a blogger. And internet addict. I spend A LOT of time with technology. Being out of the world of technology for four whole days (no internet or traditional power source, people) was something I thought would be challenging, but instead it was invigorating. I was more present, more aware of my surroundings, more friendly and social, more appreciative of everything I encountered. I didn't care what anyone else was doing, or suffer an ounce of FOMO. I just enjoyed my experience each day for what it was without being glued to my devices.
10. It reminded me that life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself.
We create the person we want to be. It's a choice. Whether it's me, or you, or the guy who wore pink platform boots and fairy wings all weekend. We get to wake up every day and decide how we want to live and behave and create. And that's scary and exhilarating all at the same time. The options in life are fucking limitless, and every day we're here we get to sculpt a path to who we want to be and what we want to do.
I'm trying to maintain my Coachella lifestyle now that I've returned to humanity.
I've deleted the Facebook app from my phone, I'm brewing water in a tin pot we used for camping, I'm wearing those damn shorts in public.
I'm writing a bunch every day, listening to music even more than before, and developing
Since we've been home, despite getting sick and going back to work and being re-immersed in the tasks and responsibilities of daily life, I'm still waking up with a renewed zest for life. I still feel like anything is possible and I'm so excited to explore it.
I've also begun researching Coachella pre-sale tickets for next year, and I can't effing wait.
Thanks for letting me share.
I can't wait to try and keep these changes present in my daily life. Have you ever experienced anything like this? Please share with me!