Friends on the east coast are always surprised when they hear about my annual pilgrimage to Coachella. Whenever the topic comes up I hear the same frustrating sentence, nearly word for word. “I would love to go to Coachella, but it conflicts with school/work/life. Maybe someday.”
It isn’t this sentence that bugs me so much, but the mentality, the attitude implied.
Someday I plan on having a family, a few kids, and a well established 401k. Now is the time to do the things that responsibility will prevent (or at least make logistically more difficult) later in life.
When I first began making the mid-April pilgrimage to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival back in 2010, I had no idea that the festival would come to have a major impact on my life. As a lover of live music, I had dreamed about going to Coachella ever since first coming across my dream line-up of bands as a wee sixteen-year-old. So when my freshman year of college rolled around and I finally had the opportunity to go, I jumped at the chance, and never looked back.
Each year that I’ve returned to Coachella I’ve learned new things about myself. I’ve experienced lessons in life, love and friendship, not to mention extreme heat, unexpected rainstorms, group dynamics, channeling creativity, managing expectations, being prepared, and most of all, having fun.
Every time I go to Coachella, the three days of the festival seem to be concurrently the longest and shortest days of the year. I try to take a moment, each time I wait in line to enter the campsite on the Thursday evening before the festivities begin, to appreciate where I am, and the joyful rumpus that I know is about to take place. I know that before I have the chance to blink I will be strapped into an airplane seat, dirty and tired, with six to eight hours of travel ahead of me. It is during this time that I am best able to reflect on the year that has led up to this moment, and think back through my years of previous Coachellas.
I’ll leave you with a few nuggets of wisdom that I have collected over the last four years.
When it comes to getting out of your comfort zone, don’t let yourself make excuses. Go on adventures with the people that you love. You will never regret getting to know them better, and you will learn more about yourself in the process. It may come as a surprise, but you can always learn new things about yourself, if you take the time to do so. You can never be too prepared, and you will never regret time spent appreciating art and nature.
I may go back to Coachella next year, I may not, but I will be heading to Burning Man for the first time this August so I know one thing for sure: many more adventures await me.