Where do you ENVISION yourself?
Every once in awhile, a show or a festival comes around that just seems perfect for you. The place is great, the lineup is great, the vibe is so you, and you’re in before you even find out the details. But your friends don’t feel the same way. Either they are busy, the lineup is not quite their taste, the place is too far, everyone is different. I’ve seen a lot of people turn down really great shows because they have nobody to go with. Sometimes, if it involves a dangerous crowd or situation, this might be the way to go. But what if it isnt? What if this is the experience that will complete your hopes and dreams, change your life for the better? Would you go it alone?
I recently was faced with a similar type of decision at a local NYC show. Personally, I am a front row kinda gal. If I can’t see the hands of the drummer I feel gipped, like I have missed out. I love watching every note that is put into a piece of music that I love, every ounce of expression (and sweat) on the faces of my heroes on stage. Smaller venues do more for me than large stadiums, and I would almost rather not see a show than sit in the nosebleed section, almost. So I went to go see one of my favorite bands play (Umphrey’s McGee) and I was psyched. Jumping up and down on the bed, annoying my coworkers, going to the bathroom all day so I could squeal of excitement into my sweatshirt psyched. I hadn’t been this excited for a show probably since the summer when I saw Umphrey’s last at Catskill Chill, not even for New Years run ( I know, right?!/Say what you will, I’ll stand by it). I was even more psyched because SO MANY of my friends, favorite people in the universe were going to be there, all together, which hadn’t happened in a long time either. The night was set up to be epic, a groundbreaking magnetic event that would bring all of the beautiful and electric forces of goodness together in one swooping sweep.
Walking into the venue, it was clear that we had completely missed the opener, and the main event was soon to go on. I looked around and noticed that there were a few people who I was supposed to meet at the show who I had not seen yet. The show started and the energy grew high, as everyone in the audience pointed their eyes at the stage. I boogied down with my friends, smiling ear to ear at what a great vibe we collectively induced. About three songs into the show, I started to feel anxious that I had not yet boogied with, or even seen my other friends, the ones who I knew were in the seats. I asked around the group I was standing with, and they told me where I could find the others. Up in the seats, on the other side of the room. I ventured off, stumbling in the dark, dancing my way around the crowd. I finally found them at the opposite side of the room, halfway back in the seats. They took up almost an entire row, but I smiled at the two older gentlemen who I had to climb over to see them. It warmed my heart to see these old friends and I was welcomed into the row as we all group hugged falling onto the seats. I raged a few songs but found myself looking around again. What were the others up to? I missed them, and promptly returned to my original standing space, in the back of the standing area.
A lot of my friends have good reasons to like standing in the back. There is more space to dance and flail around, it is a little quieter so you can ear your friends without having to scream into their ears. You get to see the magnitude of the show you are at. I don’t hate standing in the back, I like twirling a lot and my dance moves can get pretty wide. However, when my favorite bands are playing I always feel torn. Do I want to be in the front row or do I want to be with my friends? As a female on the smaller side of the spectrum, I have no problem squeezing my way to the front railing. Others are not as lucky as I am, or have more respect for the crowd. Either way, as I’ve gotten older, less and less friends want to bother with pushing their way to the front. With a larger group it is harder to respectfully move through the crowd, and my friends would rather just chill.
I asked around if anyone was interested in moving up with me but everyone seemed content. Nobody wanted to disturb the peace or leave the group and there were too many of us to move without ruffling a few feathers.
All of a sudden they started playing my favorite song. All of the energy that had been building up throughout the day came bursting out. I looked around once more at my friends, took a deep breath and hurled myself into the crowd, ducking under arms and dancing around shoulders until I was at the front railing, and looked up at my heroes. Had I held back because I was afraid to go to the front alone? Was it that i hadn’t wanted to leave the comfort zone of my friends? A number of reasons could have been keeping me from the front row, but as I looked up at jakes fingers, I realized that I was more satisfied here than anywhere else in the room. I was finally where I wanted to be, and that was comforting. I wished that my friends, my favorite people in the world were standing next to me but the reality was that they were raging just as hard as me simply a few rows back. None of them had wanted to come up with me, and I couldn’t force them. I looked around and smiled, and got a bunch of smiles back. these were my new friends, the people of the front row. We all had something in common, our extreme love for Umphrey’s, that drove us to this geographical location of the front row. I thought about how silly I had been to be hesitant to leave my friends for this spot. Pulling out my camera phone, I decided I would take a video to bring back for them, a souvenir if you will. Feeling a hand on my shoulder I defensively turned around only to look into the eyes of an old friend who I had seen briefly at the beginning of the show. He was alone also, and pointed out his brother in the balcony. It was nice to find a friend, and we raged hard until the end of the show. We chatted a little about how awesome they had played, and hugged goodbye setting off after our respective friends.
When I met up with my people after the show everyone was excitedly chatting about how good the show was, did you hear that song?! We reunited, and everyone had their own story to tell. It felt good to share my video with them, and hear about their experiences in turn. I realized that by leaving them and expanding my presence into the front row, I was able to not only bring a piece of them with me up there but also bring a piece of that experience back for the people I love to enjoy.
I’m sharing this story with you because I see this decision of mine to break from my comfort zone and run to the front of the room, where I wanted to be most, as a metaphor for something bigger. A few days later I saw a poster for Envision Festival in Costa Rica. I had glanced at this lineup longingly a few weeks earlier, and discussed with a few friends before giving up hope becauae nobody could accompany me there. Now, a little voice inside my head chirped. “Shouldn’t you do what YOU want to do, go where YOU want to go, even if it seems scary to do it alone?” So I entered an application to volunteer, and less than 24 hours later I was accepted. Tomorrow I land in Costa Rica as a representative of my Country, my city, my family and friends. All alone. And I couldn’t be happier! I know that there are others who are going this journey solo, from different places in the world. They too, made the decision to leave their comfort zones in search of something more, something big that they know they are lucky to have in sight. I am confident we will find each other, brought together by the same common interests to a specific geographical location, just like my companions in the front row at Umphrey’s. As a volunteer traveling solo I will have the opportunity to meet people I would never have met, and bring these connections back to my
Sometimes you dont want to sit where your friends want to sit, and that’s totally cool. Sometimes you just need to break free and do what you have to do for yourself, be true to yourself. Your friends will always be there for you. Your hometown will always be there. The opportunity to face the world and take the opportunity to do something spectacular with your life might not be, so carpe diem. Sieze the day, sieze the moment, sieze the festie.