You are all going to die.
I’ve never had a psychedelic experience before, but I imagine they are similar to the way my Saturday at Virgin Mobile Free Fest ended.
The lights around me were seizing, the rays broken by the trees as they blinked and flashed and illuminated the rain such that it looked like a cloud of colorful mist. I couldn’t see much more than the erratically changing colors as my hair was plastered to my face and multiple bodies in the crowd were pushed up against me at any given moment. Both energized and exhausted, I imagine the crowd was so clustered and euphoric because we had to keep dancing to stay warm in the rain. We had to keep dancing to stay awake because we had been on our feet all day. We had to keep dancing because the beat was so contagious that it felt unnatural to break the rhythm of rain, music, and movement.
Energies soared when the song repeated, you are all going to die. There were cheers. I cheered. And then I heard some sound-minded individual behind me say, ‘Why on earth would that make everyone cheer?’. Good question, sir. Why would that morbid statement of impending doom ever make an entire crowd of young people scream for joy?
Because I couldn’t remember a time where I had felt more alive. And that proclamation—that we were all going to die—was a reminder to live in the moment. To not care about anything besides the music, to move your body in such primal, fluid ways you didn’t know it could move, to close your eyes and feel the rain and even take off your rain jacket because you want to feel your clothes plaster to your skin.
My roommate told me about Free Fest several weeks back and I thought, why not? Free ticket. I didn’t know 95% of the line-up, but I figured I liked music enough to enjoy myself and it would be good to try something new. So we left our apartment at 12pm and returned at 1:30am. It was an adventure of a day. To start, it rained the whole time. For a while it was just drizzling, but at certain times it was pretty substantial. Then I lost everyone, but was fortunately reunited with one person from my group. Despite the sub-par weather and not previously knowing my company or the bands we were watching, I had an amazing day. There was mud, amazing live performances (Vampire Weekend, The Avett Brothers, and Madeon were my favorites), new friendships in the making, and piping hot pizza. I tried my best to find face paint because that was the only thing that was missing, but no luck.
Raving in the woods, however, is not how I have been spending most of my Saturdays. Month 2 has been a stark contrast to Month 1. With the exception of Free Fest, most of my days and evenings during September have been spent alone, reading and watching movies, or with small groups of friends, making homemade pizza and swapping old stories. I’m ok with the quiet and the solitude. In fact, I’m thriving in it. For the first time in my life I have all of this time. Time which I can fill in whatever way I want. My one responsibility is to go to work and so in the evenings, in the mornings, and on the weekends, my time is mine to shape. And I have been keeping myself busy. I decided to apply for a teaching fellowship for next year (fingers crossed!), I have attended several trainings for volunteer positions that are about to start (tutoring starts Tuesday and I am SO excited to meet the kiddo I will be working with all year), and have been boxing multiple times a week. Going so frequently at 6am (yup) has afforded me a sense of familiarity/solidarity there. Gym friends aren’t really real friends (at least not yet anyways), but we do have a bond that I don’t share with anyone else (you know, the one where you find yourself doing almost 100 push-ups at 6:15 in the morning and think, why am I here?).
But the beautiful part about all of this business, is that I know I am doing exactly what I want to do in each moment. And I am content. I feel like that word carries a lot of negative connotations in the age of go-gettering, workaholism, and self-improvement. Almost like its a lazy word. If you are content, you must be coasting along. Not actually doing anything productive with your time. But content to me means not being able to stop smiling while listening to new music, walking to the humane society for volunteer orientation, reveling in the beautiful fall weather. It means laughing for no reason in the kitchen when you’re dancing while making soup. Its deciding that you want to spend a Thursday night on the couch reading for hours, finally finishing a book you started weeks before. For me, its been about learning to enjoy tiny moments and truly appreciate my own company.
I skyped with a friend in Turkey yesterday and it is amazing to me how, half way around the world, we want the exact same things. We miss our old friends, but are excited to be making new ones. We want to join gyms because we realize exercise is a crucial form of uninterrupted me-time and for developing routines. We want hobbies and connections to our communities (so far mine has been playing with dogs, while hers is becoming an apprentice to a Turkish potter). We like the excitement and hustle of city life, but we need times to retreat into quiet, reflective evenings.
So, yes, September has been pretty tame. Perhaps October has some more exciting things in store, but for now, I am content.