I’m nearly convinced that everyone is sick of me raving about how wonderful the Eaux Claires music festival was, but I can’t help it! I had never met a nicer group of 22,000 strangers than those who blessed the grounds of Eau Claire, WI this past weekend. Along with the kindness, they were all so real. Those beards and happy faces were REAL. The beautiful music graced my soul and entire being & I am still so happy to have been in the presence of friends and starry skies.
“There are things in the world that are hard to understand for us, hard to connect with,” (Justin Vernon) said. “There’s a lot of question marks … I just think that, if you don’t have friendship, you don’t have anything.”
I have read about 20 Justin Vernon articles today just to preserve my memories of his angelic presence, and still can’t wrap my mind around how moved I was (and still am) by his words. Community is everywhere. Even in small-town Wisconsin. In the middle of the woods. In the middle of Chippewa. In the middle of Eau Claire. He created something big. A revolution in festivals. & I am beyond blessed to say that I was a part of this inaugural journey & all of the rough patches (& tears & laughter) that came along with it.
“The question that I keep asking myself lately is, ‘Is there anything greater than ‘us’? Is there anything more powerful and greater than ‘us’?” he said. “And I don’t think there is.”
Almost three weeks ago, I ended my 2 and a half week road trip to California. I hiked my way through Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite, and it was (by far) one of the most strenuous, yet rewarding, things I’ve ever done in my life.
I can’t even begin to express how much this trip meant to me, or how it made me feel like nothing else existed. When you find yourself out in the wild, it becomes just you against nature. There’s no social media (or society for that matter) and it’s just you and the trails. You and the storms. You and the mountains. You and your biggest fears.
It became all about survival. I didn’t realize this until after getting back, but living was the only goal; the only fight. & at times, it seemed like the hardest battle I had ever fought. But I’m here now. I made it out & am beyond stoked to go out and do it again. Explore more. Discover more. Live more.
Going into this post, I thought I knew what I was going to talk about, but I couldn’t even begin to tell you the thrills I felt even if I scanned in every page of my journal. It’s all about the journey and the experience. The change within. The freedom that comes with walking until you can’t anymore.
I met a man along the trail who joked that one should never look up to the sky while wearing sunglasses and using a walking stick, or you will forever be known as “Ray Charles of the Trail.” These are the people and memories that make everything worth its while. They are the ones you fall in love with and yearn to become. They are the reason I will continue to wander and get lost. They are the trails. And the mountains. And the seas.
One second it’s there and the next it isn’t. It comes and goes with a fluidity only achieved by a master. While you know it’s all just a trick, you can’t help but believe it’s real.
For an instant, you are absolutely mesmerized. You succumb to the magic of it all. It overwhelms you and takes your breath away. But then the card slips. The handkerchief falls. The magic is gone along with the feeling of wonderment. You had been fooled and you will continue to be fooled. You will continue to feel betrayed, yet enchanted at the same time. The confusion within you will persist and you’ll have to learn to tell yourself that these, all of these, are merely magic tricks.