Journey Beyond: Shambhala to Oregon Eclipse — Searching For Self
Despite it being the first day of Spring and International Happiness Day, I found myself waking up on Monday, March 20 feeling lethargic, disinterested and lacking any overall zeal to get my day and week started. Of course, feeling lost in a haze and unwilling to get out of bed isn’t at all an uncommon occurrence to experience on a Monday morning. However, this listlessness felt deeper than your normal case of the “Mondays.” There was a real sense of futility to this fog I was in and couldn’t see any obvious lifeline to pull me out of the funk. That was until I checked the stack of mail sitting on my kitchen counter.
At the top sat a colorful postcard depicting a young woman with the flag of many nations painted on her face. I stopped and, without flipping over the postcard, knew it was for me. Slowly, as I realized it’s origin and its simple significance, my lethargy began to dissipate.
Last summer while exploring the beautiful Kootenay mountains in British Columbia during Shambhala, I met a Shambhalovely who went by the name of Gel. The experience of meeting her was deep, rich and emblematic of the quality of people that you find at Shambhala. She told me her story, how she was a world traveler and that she had founded a photo series that celebrated the global community of her friends called Global Nomads. The idea was simple enough: she painted their faces according to all the countries they have lived in or originated from, then the national animal of the country they most identify themselves with painted on top.
She had all of these pictures printed onto postcards and she gave them out to the people she met at Shambhala with a beautiful purpose in mind. Each person wrote a message to themselves on the postcard and eventually, Gel would then mail them the postcard to their actual home. The idea was simple, but brilliant. When at a music festival, people are happier and more in tune with their truest self, and therefore; more able to provide clarity, good judgment, and advice. My postcard had a simple message on it, “Remember to find the focus.” The words on the postcard, the timing of its delivery, and the memory of Shambhala unlocked a reservoir of positivity and insight that I needed to completely shatter the miasma that I had found myself in.
I say all of that to illuminate the power and importance of a good festival. These events don’t just happen in a vacuum, they stick with you and continue to change your life even after the last DJ plays their set. Shambhala showed me that, while the music and dancing are of course important to us, the truly crucial elements that we crave for are the people we meet, the experiences we share, and the selves we become. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of that with all the fuss over lineups and buying tickets, we can forget that, at the end of the day, this is all just a journey we are on together.
In August, two of North America’s most beloved and highly acclaimed music festivals will take place within one week of each other. From August 11-14, Shambhala will celebrate its incredible 20th anniversary and from August 17-23 the curators of Symbiosis Gathering, with the help of their global partners, will put together a truly unique experience known as the Oregon Eclipse Gathering.
Throughout this new series, A Journey Beyond, I will explain why I am so excited to embark on a journey from New York City to British Columbia and then over to Oregon. Beyond simply wanting to check out dope music and have a good time, this journey for me will be somewhat of a pilgrimage. I hope to find truth, happiness, and most importantly, myself. I want to be able to wake up and feel ready to face every day. I want to feel the confidence and clarity that I found after reading my postcard every minute of every day. I know that’s probably an impossible feat, but I also know that the answers I seek are out there on the road and certainly within me as well.
I hope that this series will inspire others to dive headfirst into life and chase after the answers that they are looking for also. Join me as I travel west, and deep into festival culture on this Journey Beyond.