Forever learning from the place we call home.

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I don’t know how to describe my experience at Shambhala. It was amazing. Of course it was. It always is. But it was also lonely. Even surrounded by the most loving people on our planet, I still felt like an alien in the sea of faces.

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Photo Credit – Gillian Baines

Everyone builds up this amazing memory of Shambhala, myself included, and I guess I feel a bit stuck when I think honestly about the memory. I wrote about my very first experience at this magical place, four years ago, when the lights were new and the feelings were something I had never experienced before. The two years following I didn’t know how to write about it, disappointed that I wasn’t 100 per cent satisfied with the weekend spent in the BC wilderness.
I guess I thought that if I didn’t force myself into believing I had the best time then I wasn’t truly living in the moment. But as the years have passed, and I’ve spent my time travelling the dusty dirt road and dancing my soul out beneath the trees, I understand that Shambhala is what you make of it.

I will never deny the intense moments of happiness as I moved from stage to stage, witnessing euphoria in it’s simplest form. The joy radiated from almost every person I had the pleasure of passing, and the words shouted and sang and spoke were true and pure and humbling. But I also will not deny the intense singularity I felt as I spent most of that time wandering by myself, making friends as I went that will remain farmily but who’s names have long since passed from my mind.
This year I went alone. I had a few groups of friends camped sporadically throughout Metta, but I was all by my lonesome, way out in crew camping. The challenge was different; I had always camped close. I had always camped with a group. This year I was camped as far away as possible, in the quietest part of the farm.

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My view from the Press Tent. ❤

    I loved the job I did for the festival this year, and working alongside the media in the Press Tent was one of the most rewarding things that has happened to me at Shambhala. Seeing my favourite artists getting off the airport shuttles, seeing them walking to and from the stages, and just simply being in the hub of activity is something I would never change. My heart is so full from being able to help out even in the smallest of ways.
Yet, even with all this purity and satisfaction, and even surrounded by thousands of new friends, there will always be the part of me who missed my closest pals, the ones who were not able to make it.
I love Shambhala. I love the lessons I learn every single year that push me forward and help me bring so much more of that love into my every-day life. I love the chaos and the magic, and the stories that flood my newsfeed for months to come.
But now, after four years, I also appreciate that it’s not always going to be amazing. There are going to be moments where you are sad, or lonely, or just downright angry. And that is okay.
It is okay to admit there were things that hurt you, or frustrated you.

I’ve been home for five days, and everything in me wants to pack up my car and drive right back, down the windy mountain roads through the clouds of smoke. Even knowing of the frustrations faced, there is nothing I would trade for the weekend spent feeling the bass in every part of my body.
I met a few people this year who’s whole lives came crumbling down the minute they got to the festival, from broken hearts to theft, and everything else in between. They had far worse events overtake them, and yet they were still doing what they could, being who they were, and giving the love they had in them to everyone out there who would take it.
And that is what Shambhala is about.
It’s not about having the perfect weekend, because let’s face it, simply being “human” makes us less than perfect. It’s not about being happy from the minute you get in line to the minute you pack up your camp and leave.
But it is about love. Encompassing, empowering, love. It is about feeling lonely but still having the most wonderful time because all you have to do is look at the first person in your line of sight to feel. And it is about feeling; feeling every emotion known to man, because that is what something so powerful as this festival does. It makes you feel. And personally, if I didn’t feel sadness and solitariness, all the other more positive emotions wouldn’t have hit me in the same way.
I wouldn’t have appreciated the festival in the same way, because it makes me understand that even in the happiest place on Earth, things still happen that bring us down.
It’s a lesson I’ve been struggling with in the day’s I’ve been home, because let’s face it, the real world is not the happiest place on Earth, and the negative feelings stick around just a little bit longer, because not every face looking back at you is smiling.
But the strength I’ve gained — the appreciation I have gained — for love, and acceptance, and just for our human souls in general, is something I attribute to Shambhala, to the years of experience of gracefully struggling my way through the weekend.
I’ve come to learn you don’t have to be ashamed, because Shambhala has got you, in all your absent, worried, euphoric glory. Shambhala, and every spirit who attends, will gladly wrap you in their arms and let the love flow, even after the grounds have returned to a cattle ranch, even after the snow starts to fall.

At the end of the day, the mountains in your review mirror, having had the best time, the worst time, or a time that was perfect for what it was in the moment it was in, every lesson learned makes us stronger. And as we return to the things that can frequently bring us down, just remember that having emerged out of the flames creates a courage, similar to that of a phoenix, and even hundreds, thousands, of miles away from the place we call home, we’ve still got this. And we will have this. And just in case you forget, Shambhala will be there, always in the back of your mind, to welcome us home in 365 short days.

— cassie —

Quote of the Day – August 18, 2017

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“They say find yourself, know yourself. But you know what, it’s harder than it sounds. Especially when you and yourself keep changing, because you can’t stop absorbing the world around you.
You’ll get it.
Eventually.
(Or you won’t.)”

— Anonymous (Shambhala Porta Potty) —

Love Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

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“The way you have loved speaks volumes about you.
The way they leave speaks volumes about them.
Your love is not poison.
Their inability to appreciate it is.”


I have been destroyed by love.
You wouldn’t think something so pure, so innocent, could be so devastating, but let me tell you, it definitely is.

I have been called selfish. 
And maybe I am, but maybe I have to be, because if I’m not, the one thing I crave more than anything is also the one thing that hurts me the most.

I have been told that it will always be about me, and that it has always been about me.
How do you argue something like this when you’ve been brain washed to believe it’s true?

I have been kicked, and beaten, and burned by love.
And yet it is still the one thing I try so hard to radiate with every piece of my being.

I just got home from a place so full of love it’s hard not to accept it as the wonderful thing it is, and yet, I still cringe away from it. I still cry because of it.
I still sit in awe of it, yet hurt so damn much because I don’t have it.

But I do have it. 

I have it in the padded paws that run around my apartment, and I have it in the compliments and appreciation of the staff at work. I have it in the sunsets, and the comfort food, and the snap chats back from my favourite artists.

But it’s not enough. And that’s where the words rear up and slap me in the face.

I am selfish.

Because I want a love that doesn’t destroy. Because I want a love that doesn’t manipulate, that doesn’t lie, that doesn’t control.

Yet, I feel these wants are wrong.

True selflessness would not want for love. True selflessness would simply be happy with what it had in the moment it was in.

I think I give love, or I thought I did. But now I’ve been told that I don’t. I’ve been told that I only give when I’m getting something in return. Maybe I’ve been lying to myself and I’ve been so blind that I couldn’t see.

I’ve been cut by words spoken out of anger, and indifference — the opposite of love — and now I don’t know who I am.

Now I question everything I thought I was — all because of love.

In space under the sea.

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“This seems like the kind of place I would find you.” 

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Words had never rang more true as I turned my face to the sky (ceiling) and let the bubbles float down to pop on my galaxy-covered face. I was dancing among space creatures, and swimming through a crowd of dolphins, and I was happy and at peace with the loud bass and cheering voices.
Saturday night’s Dolphin Party 2.0 was the culprit of these euphoric feelings, and the trip to the depths of the oceans of outer space was just what I needed to last me the next few weeks before taking off to Shambhala.

Just a simple Saturday night party, with a few amazing performances, but with all the meaning of a thousand galaxies spinning and whirling through the hearts and minds of those of us just working our way through the mundane days, waiting so patiently to let our freak flags fly.
The intimate party, held at Lord Nelsons Pub and Grill, was something so much more than magical and was what all of us had been waiting for and needing. So many strangers gathering in one place, but with familiar faces littered through the crowd, I felt safe, and I felt at home, the same way I would in the forest, under the stars – the very stars we were honouring that night.

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With so many creatures gracing the floor, from space pirates to intergalactic warriors, and sharks and rubber duckies galore, the night flew by on a cloud – a cloud of friendship, of familiarity, and of love; love for each and every person who came out to play.
Two point oh – the second of it’s kind – bringing an intense and vibrant energy to the bar that has held it’s fair amount of shows in the years past. The second of it’s kind, but hopefully not the last, as once again the sea dwellers sought back out into the night with fuel enough to last them until the night when they can reconvene again.

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This is why I write.

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“If you can’t talk about it, write about it.”

Something someone said to me recently, something that stuck with me even as the light faded and the stars appeared. Something I’m still thinking about now.
I struggle with words, I speak to fast, I mumble, I can’t form complete sentences. The words get jumbled up somewhere between my brain and my mouth, and sometimes they fall flat and I trail off, hoping the person I’m with understands the words in between the lines.

It’s important to me to be able to communicate, and for so long I wasn’t able. And I guess part of me still isn’t able.
I have a very small understanding of the world, of the politics and religions, the pain and suffering. I only see what is placed in front of me, what pops up in a Facebook feed or what is read about in the local newspaper.
I don’t understand a lot of it.

But I try. 

And that, I think, is one of my favourite features.
I know how to ask questions, I know how to get the information I need to bring myself to the same level of those I’m conversing with. But sometimes I need to fill the silence with something that makes me feel like I can actually contribute too, with words that are generalized and meaningless just to add something that doesn’t necessarily help or hinder the conversation.

And maybe that is why I find such solace in writing.
Because when I write I don’t have an issue with the words – they just come out and are there and make sense and I don’t have to struggle to find what sounds right.
I could write you a thousand page essay on last year’s election, and make perfect sense in what I was trying to say, and yet you throw some facts and figures at me verbally and I panic.

And maybe that’s where the first line in this post comes into play – if I can’t talk about it, I can write about it. Because the more I write about the things that confuse me the more I will be able to hold a conversation and understand the meanings in my words before I say them.

It’s a new challenge, one I am excited to accept.
To take the words I write and actualize them into reality.
If the words are meant to exist, I will find a way to create them, even if it takes me taking a step back from the moment to understand them just a bit better.

Everything is about understanding.
It all comes back down to that.
And as I seek the knowledge, I appreciate the acceptance of those in my life, who have the patience to see me through as I work to figure it out on my own.

— cassie —

Things in my head.

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Sometimes I get stuck when I think about my dreams. They seem so big and so bad and so far way. I know what I want, but the pathway there is full of switchbacks and mud slides and storms so great not even the strongest could get through.
I’ve had to pull over so many times, to let others pass, simply because I gave up and they didn’t. Now I watch them leave me in the dust and I wonder why I pulled over in the first place.
I blame so many things, when in reality it was just a lack of passion. It was a lack of faith, an absence of something greater than myself. I let it control me and shove me down, holing up on the side of the road, scared that this would be it for me.
And I wonder if I’m the broken one, that I’m not fighting hard enough to be happy. Not fighting hard enough to be perfect.
Nobody is perfect.
But everybody needs me to be the happy person they all love, no one wants to deal with the sad.
I don’t even want to deal with the sad. I just want to shove it down and ignore it, but I can’t.
In the dark, on that side of the road, I can’t.
I can’t let the fear, that I won’t be good enough, win.
And I won’t let it win.
I will fight it tooth and nail until I claw my way up the mountain. I will conquer that fear and I will find my place, and although it may take me a while, and it may take many steps in the wrong direction, I know I’ll find the right one, because in the end, the only way through is up.