In a year that started out worse than any that I can remember in my 41 years on the planet, I have somehow managed to take every opportunity to travel, or to do something new or different, everything that came my way I figured out a way to say yes to it and to find the lesson in it. I’ve had moments of guilt, though. Like I shouldn’t be traveling as much as I did, or seeing the people that I’ve seen, or laughing as much and loving as much as I have this year because I should be grieving. It’s a strange break in my brain. I know it’s a ridiculous thing, but please note the name of this blog.
I rest my case.
I went to Harvest Fest for Fall Break. It is a bluegrass/folk/indie rock festival that takes place atop Mulberry Mountain in Ozark, Arkansas. This is the same venue, the same producing company that puts on Wakarusa, the fest that Trish, Gabe and I went to last year. Trish and I had this planned and on our calendars since the early Spring, and then when they moved to Florida this summer, it was solidified. We were going to meet on our mountain in October. We were going to camp and listen to great music, and enjoy Fall weather and de-stress from Life. The plan went from great to BRILLIANT when we added in Gabe’s best friends, the Twins, and Brad and Lisa who are Trish’s friends and mine through her. Mark finished up our group. He is a longtime friend of Brad and Lisa’s, and had hung out with Trish maybe four or five times previous to this. I didn’t know him but for a brief meeting at Brad’s birthday party early this summer.
SO. On Wednesday afternoon, the Twins arrived from Norman at my house, loaded their stuff in with mine, and we three headed West. Trish and Gabe had left Florida early that morning and we were planning our early arrival to the campground to stake our claim. Traffic jams and a variety of delays later, we met, we drove, we claimed our spots and proceeded to set up a campsite that would befit JayZ and Beyonce. The setting up is the worst part. It’s after 10pm, it’s dark, we’re among the group of people who paid for early admission, we’re excited to see our friends and just want it to all BE DONE! I couldn’t remember how to assemble my rain tarp that goes over the tent. I forgot one of the lanterns. I didn’t remember to charge up the automatic inflating device on my mattress. I forgot my rain boots. I was tired. My brain and my heart and my body were being held together by stress and I just wanted to be finished with this part and having fun. Trish killed her car battery. Seriously dead. Phones were dying, my car has to run to charge a phone, and service was sketchy to non-existent and we needed to know when our friends were arriving the next day.
A good night’s sleep in the mountain air made things so much better. We had morning coffee from the best most amazing propane camp coffee maker ever designed. Our friends drove up and I saw the moment it happened so that connection happened easy. We took their gear over and help set up camp, and decided that since we had appropriated about one and a half extra campsites to ourselves, that we’d make our place the base camp.
With everything settled and set up, it was time for some fun.
We got some beer, got to the venue and proceeded to make one of the most epic group trips in history come to life. There was music and bands that took us completely by surprise. There was tentative initiating of friendships and reconnection with those already in place. The stage was set for something special to happen. I made the statement, “we will leave this mountain forever changed.” Which was pretty bold considering we were 2 hours in to a 4 day festival. But I had a feeling…we were on the precipice.
And then the rains came.
I was cruising through the channels last week, or possibly cleaning out my DVR and came across an episode of Oprah’s Last Chapter. She was interviewing T.D. Jakes, a pretty well known tv preacher. I haven’t ever watched him, someone bought me one of his books at one time but I’ve never read it. So I paused and took a listen. He was preaching on the scriptures that tell the parable of the loaves and fishes. The story says that Jesus and the disciples were among a crowd of 5000 men, not counting the women and children among them, and the time came to provide some nourishment, something to sustain them. When all that was procured were five loaves of bread and two fish, it is written that Jesus took what was offered and gave thanks to God for that. It then multiplied and fed the crowd.
Now, I’m not interested in your belief system with this post. I’m not asking you to suspend any kind of disbelief and buy into it. I read it now through a lens that is colored by my reading of Christopher Moore’s Lamb, so I’m coming at it from a different place, too.
What I want to point out, what the tv preacher also pointed out that stuck with me was the part where Jesus gave thanks for the five loaves and two fish. He gave thanks for something that was not enough. He gave thanks for something that was not enough, it was not what he asked for, not what was needed.
He was thankful for that which was not perfect.
It then, and only then, became enough.
It became what he asked for.
It became what was needed.
It became perfect.
The rains came.
And they stayed for about 5 hours.
And I had flip flops, a pair of Tom’s, and my good Nike’s. No boots. Gabe forgot her’s too.
I had the foresight to bring my NorthFace and ponchos. I chose the flip flops.
Everyone geared up, suited up, did the best we could with what we had, and trudged out into the slanty sideways rain and saw what I will forever believe to be, the best day of live music in the history of music festivals. Mark and I “rushed the stage” and got up close to Brown Bird, thus making way for the first of many new talent crushes I would develop over the course of the festival. We then slogged our way over to the big tent, and while there was nothing beating down on us, we were in mud.
How many of you have traipsed across a mountain in ankle deep mud…wearing flip flops?
There is no traction.
There IS, however, pretty amazing suction.
I reached a point where I gave up and took them off and walked among the hippies as one of their own.
It’s a good damned thing I’m not a prissy girl because that in itself would’ve made me cry. The porta-pottie situation on top of that would’ve sent me to the hospital.
The rain didn’t let up. It was after one really random set with a song that had the lyrics: “I peed on a bird. I peed on a bird. I stood on the edge of a cliff, and I peed on a bird.” that I decided to just bend. Accept what was being offered and give thanks for it. This was going to be something that we could either embrace and be in the moment or it could be ruint.
Ruint is the new YOLO, by the way. *inside joke what will forever make me laugh*
We chose beer. And we chose fried oreos. And we chose dancing. And this group of people metaphorically pushed all of our chips to the middle of the table.
I got to see Shua and hug him. I saw wish lanterns lighting up the big sky. I danced in the mud under a giant lit up octopus puppet. I sang Gin & Juice at the top of my lungs, and laughed at our camp revisions to the song. Trish’s car got fixed. We ate amazing brisket that Brad brought. We laughed and laughed and laughed. I made a new friend in Mark, someone that I’d never met before this and bless his heart, he was the one closest to me when I cried…you knew that was going to happen. I cried because I was so full of love for my friends, old and new, and because the music was so beautiful and the moments that made up the day were so perfect, so brilliantly perfect that it hurt and I had to make room for more to fit inside of me.
There are many stories that happened to make up the moments, and many moments between moments that will forever connect this group together. Random, crazy, laugh till you cry kind of moments.
My favorite one was towards the end of this water logged, mud squished day, during a set by honeyhoney when I looked over and saw a guy dressed up like Jesus surrounded by a group of people and he was holding the inside bladder of a box of wine above each of them and giving them a drink.
It wasn’t the most random thing that went down on that mountain, but for me, it certainly was the most vivid, most obvious sign of the lesson I was to learn.
You must surround yourself by true, authentic people and those relationships will sustain you. You should take risk and seek out new experiences as often as possible. And sometimes, sometimes when you bless what is broken, and give thanks for what isn’t enough, you have a day that changes you.