Time Lapse: Basking In the Beauty of Bonnaroo
Welcome to the first time lapse.
Once in awhile, I am going to post material that has been written in the past.
This series of posts will be referred to as a Time Lapse.
I have been chronicaling my life for about ten years now. My phone is filled with notes dating back as far as 2012! The way I write here has been the way I have always written: stream of conscious, metaphorical, nonsensical and straight forward. Anytime life or humanity inspired me, I recorded it. So, despite the writing maybe being less dazzling, the messages and the tone remain the same.
So here we go. Fall. 2010. Freshman year of college. A college term paper that I wrote highlighting my experiences from the Bonnaroo music festival. (Yes, I wrote a college paper about this.) I mean, this shit changed my life. There are many entries about this experience. Just wait.
I never actually thought at the start of summer that I would make it to the Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester Tennessee, but here I am sitting in a car full of youthful spirits , eager to submit themselves into the chaos that is a music festival. The hippies, the raw human living standards, the glory of music and the experiences you open up to have the possibility of changing who you are as a person and your perspective of the world. Although my friends and I are leaving the festival on our way back to civilized living which we call home, flashbacks of the festival and its highlights consumer my mind.
After hours of driving and waiting in line that managed to wrap around every farm and prairie in sight, arriving at the entrance of Bonnaroo was a chaotic clusterfuck of eager people waiting for their cars to be quickly searched in order to proceed to the vast land of bodies and the sea of camping tents. My campsite happened to reside only a few feet away from my neighboring campers, of whom I had only just met and was already sharing meals and weed with. There was a moment I can recall where I looked out ahead of me at the sites I was surrounded by, only to see endless arrays of tents, vans, and creative abodes. Think of the scene in the fourth Harry Potter film, where the gang flutters through the Quidditch World Series event. The view seemed to manipulate the laws of physics.
The first prominent flashback is the epic night of self discovery and appreciation for the purpose of Bonnaroo. The Stevie Wonder concert. Never have I seen so many festival goers attend one man's show. It was as if Stevie Wonder had some cryptic and powerful influence over the slipping minds that filled the crowd. My group of friends surrounds me as I am sitting in the mud, peering through the endless sea of legs. People are howling and singing, rolling on the ground, and embracing each other in a way I had never seen before. It was so free. The flower children of the aquarian parents pranced around us like fairies. The concert begins and the music flows through the crowd like a breeze of endless opportunities and shared love. I look above me at the crystal clear sky as I connect the sparkling dots that make up the rare constellations. I was transfixed by the notion that everything is connected. That everything exists to create a bigger picture. Adjacent to the concert venue stood an epically enhanced ferris wheel that changed colors and patterns every few seconds; a mind trip in itself. Past the vast plains of mind-altered hippies, I always found comfort in finding the ferris wheel. It was as if it served as a safe home base I could turn to when I felt the chaos overtake me. Around the corner, mass amounts of people patiently wait for the giant mushroom shaped fountain to spew out cold water over their hot bodies after a day in 90 degree heat. The fountain was a spectacle with mounds of neon graffiti enveloping its center and spectrums of vibrant glowing colors seeping down the water falls that emerged from the mushroom cap. Based off the expressions of those who dared to engulf themselves in the fountain, there seemed to be nothing better than standing under the pounds of icy water that looked like it could've been plucked right out of Wonderland.
The concert ends and in a flash, the crowd dispersed into the night, awaiting their next adventure. This feeling rang true every which way you turned. Wander off to the Techno Tent and you were guaranteed a circus of glowing dancers. Heartbeats were off the charts, sweat was like oxygen, and glow sticks filled the air like flocks of birds. The bass of the techno beats pounds through my body as my pulse becomes one with the music. Conservation of clothing is no longer a necessity when you see the costumes and materials thrown together to make an outfit suitable to wear in the heat while moshing with the other over heated naked bodies. These same bodies bowed down to the musical geniuses they were bowing down to, and I observed their souls being touched.
Bonnaroo was hot, sweaty, and full of waiting. The sleeping conditions were unbearable, the food was tolerable or nonexistent, and the quality of life was raw and genuine. I don't think it would be possible for a person to walk through Bonnaroo without experiencing some existential peak. Meeting a generous new person, the exchange of emotions between strangers, and the primal way of living is a once in a lifetime experience. I flashback to the car ride I am enduring as we leave the bubble of hedonism. I feel like if I were to tell people I found the meaning of life, no one but the kids in the car and my fellow weekend warriors would understand. Bonnaroo opens your eyes to seeing that once you stop resisting the worries of the world and realize you have one life to make something of, you start to believe in a certain kind of magic. Time is lost as my mind wanders down the rabbit hole that is the Bonnaroo music festival.
I laugh as I read this, thinking back to the profound validation I felt upon returning home from this trip. I recall the enlightenment is offered me. The drug journals that were the result of this weekend of firsts are pieces of experimental writing that I hold very dear to my heart. The message in this paper is the same message I could muster up now. Sometimes, a few days away from civil society is a good thing. The people who attend these festivals understand there is a primal universal code of living like a purist, of living like a hedonist, of living like a raw human. It exists to set you free. It transformed me. It's ok to be primal sometimes. To lay in the mud, watch the stars, and eat out of a can. Because those moments are when your true self comes out. How will you survive? How will you define yourself without the construct of society guiding the way? It's beautiful. To see what people can be when you exist in a bubble of music, love, and connection is a gift. Be primal once in awhile.
It will cleanse your soul.