I’d like to take you on a little adventure. Picture this:
It’s hot. The sun is beaming down on the plains and fluffy white clouds are floating with ease above you. You are in the desert of California and the ground is dry. You step out of the tent, lace up your boots, grab the backpack with your essentials (water, snacks, camera, hacky sack, etc.) and prepare for your mission. It’s a long hike to the grounds. You’ll have to walk up and down a winding hill, but you will feel like a damn warrior every time you make it over.
The first thing you see: food. A variety of food trucks line the path, waiting to nourish your body. You keep walking, taking in all the smells and making mental notes for what you might eat later on. Coffee, phad thai, hamburgers, sushi burritos, egg sandwiches, raw/vegan food…options galore. I still remember the life changing gyro I had at 3am after 8 hours of dancing without food… bomb af.
You hear music in the distance and it’s hypnotizing, so you wander. One of the beautiful things about this journey is that it could take you any direction at any moment. Which path feels right? Here, it is easy to follow your instincts and base your decisions on present moment feelings. So, you meander to the Thunder Stage (presented by Do LaB), and immediately the beat drops and you can’t help but get down. It’s 3:00 in the afternoon, and your party pants are officially on. You look to your right and notice a beautiful goddess girl dressed in gold, hair to her waist, hooping to the beat like nothing you’ve ever seen. Her light leaves you wanting more and you walk away feeling completely enchanted.
Around the bend is a pathway that leads to a wooden bridge. When you cross the bridge you instinctively know to put your hand up and show some love. Give out those high fives like theres no tomorrow and cheer along the way. Don’t be surprised if a group howl breaks out, it’s been known to happen a time or two.
Once you step foot back on solid ground, you pass by the healing sanctuary (taking note of it’s location) and then you come upon the Temple Stage, where a group of people are gathered around for a workshop. You’re intrigued, so you walk over, take a seat, and listen up. It just so happens that the two women speaking are the authors of a book you recently read, who deliver a kick ass speech that seems to touch you personally. That is the magic of festivals like this, if you go where the wind takes you, it will whisper in your ear the exact information you need to hear. Keep listening.
Alright, so you’ve checked out the food, done some dancing, had a little inspiration session, now what? At Lightning in a Bottle, the opportunities are endless. You’ve got the yoga den, which holds yoga and dance classes throughout the day, several unique merchandise vendors with killer jewelry and crystals galore, and then, of course, there is the art. Exploring the festival grounds takes an entire weekend. Not only because it is spread out across what feels like 2 miles of land, but because there are installations, sanctuaries, and activities happening all around you. It is impossible to ever feel bored. If you’re bored, you’re doing it wrong.
As the sun in setting there is a nip in the air, so you hike back to the campsite to grab some food, a change of clothes, and maybe your LED gloves (or whatever it is that you’re into). Take a nap if you feel so inclined, because the night is young and you’ve got dancing to do. Once you’re nice and revitalized, it’s time to lace those boots back up, grab your bag, and hit the road. This time around you feel so much excitement in your chest that it might just explode. Now you’re familiar with the grounds, you’ve gotten a taste for what to expect, and knowing that your favorite DJ is playing at your favorite stage in an hour… hells yeah.
You make your way to the front of the stage because, well, you’re just in that type of mood. Rage mode. And everyone around you is feelin’ it too. Next thing you know, you’re in the middle of a sea of people all jumping at the same pace, hands flying in the air and tremendous amounts of energy soaring through the sky. It feels so good to throw your entire body into the music and completely surrender to the beat. This is therapy.
After the set of a lifetime, you grab a cup of coffee and find your way to a random structure to take a break. Someone says your name. You look up, and see an old friend that you haven’t spoken to in years.
“Yo, what is up!? It’s been forever!”
So unexpected. What a pleasant surprise! So you catch up with your friend, make a few new ones, and then carry on for more adventure. The night is still young, and anything could happen. You might meet someone who inspires you to take the plunge on an idea you’ve had for a while or find an art piece that could really add to your collection. Perhaps you’ll come across a public journal and read the thoughts of someone whose message resonates in your heart. Or, if you’re really lucky, you may fall in love and meet someone who will completely change the course of your life. Like I said, the opportunities are literally endless. These are all experiences I have had, plus so many more.
If I haven’t painted a pretty enough picture for you yet, let me leave you with this. Transformational festivals, and Lightning in a Bottle in particular, will absolutely change your life, if you let it. But you have to go into it with an open mind, and that is where some people get tripped up. At LIB, you are allowed to let your freak flag fly. You can dress up as a warrior princess, a panda bear, a tribal god, or you can get cozied up in your onesie. It doesn’t matter, because in this place, at this moment, you are completely free to be anything your heart desires. Nobody is here to judge you. Nobody is going to tell you what to do or how to act. Everyone is here to have a good time and to be free from the burdens of everyday life. For an entire weekend, you are completely free to live in your hearts ease and abundance of love. You are free to relinquish control and surrender to the magic of the music. You will learn things about yourself, whether you like it or not. So soak it all in, bask in the glory that is your life, and engrain those loving feelings into your soul so that you can access them when life at home gets tough. Lightning in a Bottle changed my life, and I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store. Hope to see you there!
Thank you to Ali Alavi for contributing such beautiful photos!