I carried the energy of an eclipse, on Thursday, to Lightning in a Bottle and was fully charged by the faces that passed through me, at Symbiosis Gathering, just three days earlier. A week before the start of my two-festival tour I was in Charleston, SC contemplating the one-way ticket West I had purchased for these events. Unsure if I would return to the bible belt of America, I gave in faithfully to the perfections of the Universe and finalized my packing. With some direction, two flights, and one rideshare later I found myself smack dab in the middle of a desert. Immersed in a sandstorm, I stood alone longing for a familial bond, but the relationships I was hoping for would not manifest for me at this year’s Symbiosis gathering. It was an experience meant to be celebrated in the depths of my own mind. According to the Yoga Sutras, our pure minds are altered by five modifications, and these modifications are overcome through practice and non-attachment. The idea of “letting go” is central to non-attachment, and it is only through a dedicated practice that one can begin to conquer their mind.
My independence was put to a test as I let go of the desire to find a festival family during Symbiosis. Through the week and upon the sun’s meeting of the moon, I would practice non-attachment to this idea every second. My heart knew my loneliness was alright, so I used any pain I felt as an opportunity to tap in a little further and be present with myself. In this desert, my mouth ran dry and visions of avocados danced unforgettably upon my taste buds. I don’t know what it was about this delicious fruit, but for whatever reasons it held the power over my thoughts. I wouldn’t let this craving go unfulfilled at Lightning in a Bottle, so I bought six of the green gems to enjoy during my stay there.
Unlike Symbiosis, I had multiple families to mingle with on the Oak Canyon Ranch, and honestly, was beside myself with the amount of love I received here. Like a sponge I soaked up this feeling and, on a mission to spread the sparkle, rung out this love upon everyone I came in contact with. As a second year participant to one of the Do Lab’s finest events, I knew that I could detach myself from the schedule and surrender to the flow of the festival. At LiB, anywhere you are is the right place, so early on I got comfortable with wherever I was.
Early Thursday evening, after regrouping with some long lost loved ones, I retired to my tent and tucked my tribal-painted self to bed. When I awoke on Friday morning I had several different yoga classes to choose from, and, unconcerned about which one to attend, found my way to the Bamboo Stage for Gigi Snyder’s class. Drifting along wondrously was my flow, for of the multiple classes I could have ended up in, the one I arrived at was to be DJ’d by David Block of The Human Experience.
After a delightful session of stretching and ujayii breathing I extended my hand proudly to make note that, I too, wanted one of his business cards. The moment a pretty girl slipped the info between my fingertips I notice a familiar face on his card, the face of the Harmonic Transformation. This painting, painted by Autumn Skye Morrison, has played a significant role in my life ever since I first laid eyes on it. For several months, the Harmonic Transformation appeared as my Facebook profile picture and almost a year later, still decorates my computer desktop. When I received the Human Experience’s business card, I almost melted in recognition of the design.
On Friday afternoon my sister, Jean, was to reward me with her presence and finally, my delicious avocados. With time to kill, before her arrival, I broke out my paints and collected faces to use as a canvas. Several makeovers later I capped off my colors and made my way to the entry gate to greet Jean. As I helped her unpack the car I asked, confidently, if she had remembered to bring the green gems I was so craving. She looked up at me with an innocent face and said, “I forgot them!” I couldn’t believe it, another festival with no green skins to peel back! Having put myself in a place where I felt like I was gaining some leeway on the non-attachment concept, I was dumbstruck and challenged to practice it with something as simple as an avocado.
Accepting the situation, I dug into the trenches of my camel back and whipped out my “Spread the Sparkle” strawberry stickers. I had printed off 300 of these in hopes of making my mission to tell LiB about Sparkleberry Lane more achievable. Stories, magazines, face paintings, and even recyclable bamboo pens accompanied these glitterful giveaways. I spoke to all who were inspired by the Sparkleberry mission, and although there are many people involved with this operation, I promoted mostly alone.
Before I left for Symbiosis, I had a good discussion with an important friend of mine, Harry. I told Harry I was nervous about my independent venture and he responded coolly, “Oh honey, we’re always alone.” At Symbiosis I practiced solitude, but by the time I got to LiB, I was embracing it.
For this year’s LiB I had earned my access backstage through Sparkleberry Lane and was honored to capture some of the most beautiful moments in time on my Nikon. I first took advantage of my press access during Lynx and felt flattered, on main stage, to be photographing such a talented woman. Opposite the audience, for the first time in my life, my heart beat with gratitude. After Lynx, I popped a bottle of champagne during Grammatik and in no time was back at main stage for an epic performance from Berlin’s Apparat. When Apparat ended I graced Gaudi’s stage with my presence and had the funkiest time of my festival dancing behind this man’s red pleated kilt. From my on stage experience, throughout the festival, Gaudi’s performance was a highlight. His musical success is exemplified by his passion. Born to perform, I definitely awarded this man with a sticker when we met, backstage, after Shpongle.
Shpongle stole the hearts of many that weekend, and his performance, as expected, was out of this world. Andrey Moraru took the stage right after and gave the audience Tipper. Exhausted from a day of connecting and fulfilled by Tipper’s two sets at Symbiosis, I decided to call it a night.
Saturday morning quickly turned into another day of friend making and face painting, but wouldn’t commence until after Kiyomi Takahashi’s, “Awakening the Spiritual Warrior,” yoga class. My stomach rumbled after this session so I hopped on over to the vendors and bought myself a gourmet grilled cheese stuffed with avocados. Half of an avocado wouldn’t fulfill my green desire and just a taste would only make my mouth water more. Letting go, again, I headed back to camp, and on my way bumped into Random Rab. I couldn’t believe it, a few month’s ago this man gave me my most successful interview for the site, and for days I dreamt of meeting him. Now, in this moment, I was exchanging smiles with him and sharing the interview we did together by offering him a look at our freshly printed Sparkleberry Magazine. As I flipped through the pages he told me I had great questions. My heart fluttered, and feeling accomplished I handed him a “Spread the Sparkle” bamboo pen.
Before 1 Giant Mind, potentially a 2000-person meditation, I flagged down several groups of friends with my sequin strawberry sign. 1 Giant Mind is a worldwide project that facilitates unity through group meditation. Before tapping into our minds I introduced friends to friends and was jolly, with joy, to watch them share good laughs and hugs. In union, with a large community, I noticed that beautiful things were starting to manifest through the individualism of my flow.
In the late hours of Saturday afternoon, I spread the sparkle a little further, snapped some killer shots of Gold Rush, and then found my way to Bluetech’s special performance with Amazon Voice. Arriving early, I bumped into a good friend of mine, Jason Hann of Eoto. Jason and I go way back and some how manage to run into each other all over the country. Unsurprised to see one another, but really happy to say hello, I wished him good luck for his upcoming performance while being recruited on stage by Bluetech’s sound waves. As Amazon Voice made his way into some of my favorite shots for the weekend, gratitude pounded a little harder in my chest.
When Saturday’s sun fell beneath the surface, I knew it was time to prepare for the chill that comes along with LiB’s nights. Before I arrived to camp Sparkleberry a beautiful family from Vancouver temporarily adopted me. As I shared face paint and glitter with my newfound family, an exploratory route blossomed into effect.
On my way to EOTO, my photographing mind led me elsewhere and my shutter released in every direction. At the main stage, and to the left of EOTO’s performance, I collapsed to my knees and gave thanks to the works of Android Jones, where an 8×30 ft mural of his was on display. After I left Eoto’s music, I ventured back to the Bamboo stage and got comfortable on the couches behind Sugarpill’s performance. Here I laid appreciatively, zipped up in a snowsuit, mesmerized by the lights accompanying his show. I came out fully prepared for what the weather brought, but for some reason was still freezing. I didn’t know what to do and as my teeth chattered I noticed a smiling face sitting to my right.
After having enough with the cold I stood up uncontrollably and cuddled my way into comfort with my unknown neighbor. Before we said anything to one another he placed a foreign object in my palm. I held it close and when I opened my fingers a recognizable shape appeared. I said to him “What is it?” and he responded, “It’s half of an avocado seed!” My jaw dropped at what my hand held, as I began to explain to him my avocado dilemma.
“You don’t understand” I exclaimed, “I’ve been craving avocados uncontrollably for the past two weeks and you’re going to hand me an avocado seed?” What a mind trip, I thought, as he began to explain its purpose to me, “I carry them with me and carve away at their surface with my thumb” A form of letting go, we both agreed upon as he placed this special seed in my hand and said it was mine.
With my mind completely blown, I began to rub my thumb against its smooth surface and thought of the magic surrounding the situation. All this time I was working towards letting go and now I had an avocado seed to rub my worries away with. A message from the universe, perhaps? I got his name and began to ask Kyle about his presence. “So, how are you back here?” I said and with a perfect smile, Kyle responded, “I’m with the Human Experience.” My heart stopped as another magical coincidence presented itself. Gripping on to one another hard, I began to enlighten him about my relationship with the Harmonic Transformation painting.
Sugarpill’s performance pleasantly interrupted our conversation several times and as he dropped his beats deliciously, I was put on the spot about my backstage presence. I told Kyle about the origin of Sparkleberry Lane and as I pulled out a sticker to share with him, he told me he lived around the San Diego area.
Considering the fact that my primary West Coast living situation is currently in San Diego, I was stunned. A whirlwind inside of my head, I looked at him with my warrior-painted face and said, “I think I’ve been looking for you.” Absorbed in the moment, we declared it a quest to adventure together through the remainder of the night.
Although leaving Sugarpill’s juicy performance wasn’t easy, we were both happy to be on the other side of the festival again. To my spectacular surprise, Kyle was dressed up as a disco bunny, which inspired my wardrobe change. Together we walked to my tent, and as I dressed in my favorite mermaid costume a strange voice joined our presence. “Do you guys have like an extra sleeping bag or blanket?” I thought to myself, “What, who forgets a blanket?” And the voice spoke again, “It’s super cold and I was freezing last night!” Then I thought “No one goes cold at LiB!” and made my way out of the tent to see how I could help. Kenny, the latest addition to our duo was in need, and as a Sparkleberry, I saw it my duty to help make this kid smile. The most practical blanket I had to share was a patchwork quilt, sewn by me, and decorated with my favorite band, the Disco Biscuits’, logo. Reminding myself it’s ok to let go, I figured I’d get it back and handed my warmth over so the that three of us could be on our fantastic way.
I held on tight to my bunny and felt completely grounded as we romantically pranced through the varieties of entertainment along our way. Kenny soon became the comedian amongst the three of us, and as I giggled at his sarcasm my mind recounted the significance between Kyle and I. On cloud 9 we found ourselves at one of the art galleries where Kyle brought me to “Night Rainbow,” an artwork on the side of a vehicle. Before I could get lost any further in the beauty of Night Rainbow’s eyes, a man was jumping down from the vehicle, and Kyle was soon introducing me to the Android Jones. In a daydream, unsure of how realistic my life had become, I wouldn’t even recognize the magnitude of this situation until after our hands had already shaken.
Kyle and I stepped into the gallery at the same time, but drifting off into the magnificence of different paintings, got separated. I found Kenny and he had not seen Kyle but my world wouldn’t come crashing down, for I knew the feeling between us was real and that I would see him again before the festival was over.
With my avocado seed held tightly in my hand, Kenny and I decided to take over LiB and hit up Glitch Mob, one of the headliners from the weekend. Unimpressed, we exited the stage grounds and spent time mingling amongst the campsites where daybreak came earlier than expected.
When Kenny went to sleep I made my way to one of my favorite places of the festival, the turquoise sacred geometry transportal, built by Harlan Gruber. This “transportal” was orgasmic to sit in and inside of it vibrations created by the pluck of two very loose bass strings prevailed. Traveling directly to the core of my meditative self within its walls, I had a blast with my company Sunday morning as the sun brought warmth to our day.
My afternoon was exhausting, for when I was ready to sleep the hotness had already taken over. Still no Kyle in sight, I walked around and wondered about our mysterious encounter. I rubbed my thumb across the surface of his seed and questioned the measures of our moments. In curious thought I made my way to the Temple of Consciousness and stumbled upon A.M. Rain’s “Speaking the Unspeakable.” This speech was about following our true paths and learning from ourselves as we go. Amanda’s speech paralleled the journey I had been on and as her eyes met mine warm tears rolled down my cheeks. Exactly in the right place to hear her encouraging voice I thanked her at the end with a pretty sticker and shared a little bit of my path with her.
Speaking the Unspeakable was really empowering and something that happened during that speech inspired me to become a speaker myself. I then sat down and enjoyed the simplicity of Cello Joe’s discussion on his Rodeo Bike Tour. Cello Joe and friends traveled across Europe on bicycles, performing music for whatever it was they needed. In this discussion he talked about how much easier it is to communicate to someone if they are on a bicycle. In vehicles we’re closed in, and boxed off from one another, but on bikes we are in direct communication. Cello Joe performed and talked about how the Universe will always provide for us, reassuring me that if I follow my intuition and go with the flow, wonderful things will continue to unfold.
After Cello Joe’s talk I made my way back to the campsite where my sister was preparing for her early departure. Something inside me suggested that I go with Jean, but the amazing experiences I continuously had were holding me back. I thought to myself, leave the festival a day early… How could I?
I practiced non-attachment religiously across my festival tour and in the time leading up to my decision to leave, I realized, momentarily, that I was attached to LiB. When I thought about the desert in which my journey began two weeks ago, I started to realize how tired I actually was. I squeezed tightly around my avocado seed and thought about Kenny and my favorite blanket. Then I thought about Kyle and wondered if I would ever see him again. I soon meditated on the idea of non-attachment, and to fulfill a dedicated practice, I knew I had to let go of LiB, my Disco Biscuits blanket, and one of the strongest connections I had ever felt with another human being. I came to terms with letting go of the festival and my blanket a lot easier than with the undeniable love I felt from Kyle. Finally, I took a memorably deep inhale and decided to surrender the magic we shared to the perfections of the Universe. My mind trickled with doubtful thoughts, but my heart knew what was real. Vigorously rubbing my thumb across my avocado seed, I followed my path and left, having faith that Kyle and I would soon see each other again.
For more pictures, from LiB, please check out our photo booth!
This article was written by Jessica Dugan. You too can contribute to Sparkleberrylane.com. For more information please contact us at [email protected]!