Oregon Eclipse Gathering brought people from every walk of life together creating a truly unique and broad community.
Yes, Oregon Eclipse Gathering was a music and arts festival but more importantly, it was a gathering. A place where people from every age, walk of life, career, and situation arrived at the same place. Parents walked with shaded strollers throughout the grounds alongside college students and even grand parents. Generations teaching generations about life and our connected nature. I’ve attended many festivals but this was my first gathering and the atmosphere was inherently different, everything was so open and it felt like home.
I reflected on my days there to specifically look at the many interactions I was able to experience. While I came to Oregon Eclipse to experience totality there were five archetypes I would encounter on my journey. That being said, I would also like to explain that these are just my personal opinions and observations, interactions, and story of what I saw, felt, and have written on my heart.
The Eternally Grateful
“Trade you a hug for a cigarette.” The statement was simple enough, but unfortunately, we were out. The last one was actually in my friend Jesse’s hand. At this point, we could have let the gentleman go, we could have ended the interaction right there, but that’s not what happened. Instead, we asked for the hug anyway. We insisted on having a conversation rather than letting the request be our only one.
All of our other friends had gone to bed by this time and so we asked where he was heading and said we would join him on his adventure. Throughout the night others would join our wandering party until our band of misfits was a pretty good-sized group. As we walked from stage to stage, Matt would share bits and pieces of his himself.
“Have you ever lost someone close to you?” The question shot into the dark of night. I was caught off guard, but the answer wasn’t hard, so I replied. He told me about losing his dad earlier this year. He shared his world view of people deserving acceptance and unconditional love. It was soft spoken but powerful.
I turned, staring into his eyes, seeing the light of thankfulness. He smiled, “anyways, thanks for listening.” A phrase he would repeat periodically throughout the night as he continued to share stories. He embodied gratitude and thankfulness, nothing was too small of a gesture for him to give thanks and it was both genuine and beautiful.
I think we all grow up with someone in our lives telling us we should be more grateful. We all have something to be thankful for and things could always be worse. These are the normal spectrum of emotions when it comes to gratitude. Then every once in a while you come across someone who has endured some trials in their life but you wouldn’t know it. They don’t wear their pain on the shoulder or as a badge of honor. They live their life like every day is an unexpected Christmas gift. That isn’t to say they have been like that their whole life. They most definitely were not. When you’re going through trials you are never your better self, but when you come through it, you are stronger for it and more grateful.
The Escape Artist
Festivals are little vacations from the real world. Communities that are formed of people who live normal, hard working lives. They spend their hours, days, weeks, months saving money to leave all of that behind and come embrace the festival life. I think we can all agree that life is hard and that when we finally achieve some freedom it can be intoxicating, figuratively and literally.
These are the people who have a tendency to overdo it. The ones that wake up and start their day with five shots or beers before food. They don’t do this every day and so when they have the chance to cut loose they generally do in a big way.
“I like to have fun,” She said it very matter-of-fact. There was no argument that she did. She was the life of the campsite, always having a witty comment to throw in and she was always ready to have a drinking buddy. Undoubtedly, I too have been this person at times. “Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve been to a festival?” She continued, by explaining that this was her time to have cut loose and possibly her last hurrah before school started.
She was the one that went out to the lake, raged in the sun, and came back looking to nap before Desert Hearts hosted 6 hours of house, techno, and love. She told us all to wake her up in time to go because she didn’t want to miss it. The time came and we all tried, she insisted on just a few more minutes and went back to bed.
As the sun began to get lower in the sky, a few of us decided to be proactive and get warmer clothes. There was still plenty of time to enjoy Desert Hearts and the trip wouldn’t take that long. As I was gathering my things and scavenging the site for food and alcohol. I noticed that someone was still in their tent. It was Abbey!
I was in shock, we had all tried and failed to wake her up and by now she had missed half the set. “Get up right now!” I yelled and startled her from slumber. “This is your time and you are not going to miss this! Get out of that tent right now and take a shot with me.” As she gathered her bearings, she slowly nodded her head and started to stand up. We took some shots and were on our way ready to enjoy the house, techno, and love vibes.
The escape artist isn’t running from their problems or reality, they know they have to return eventually. However, when they need a break they take full advantage of their temporary escape.
The Spiritually Enlightened
“The longer you spend time with people [at a festival] the more you really understand them.” Emily’s statement made sense, and also seemed really simple. The general idea that you spend any time with someone it goes to follow that you would know them better. However, that was a deeper truth to her statement as well. Festivals are places that you can be your truest self, where you can leave judgment at the door and embrace people for who they really are. We had spent most of the day together and between sets, I ended up learning quite a more about her. I met her best friend at some point and it was as if directly seeing the bond between them.
In my experiences, I’ve had the opportunity to see some pretty incredible things but the way that people treat each other at events like this are always the most astounding. I think some people have a hard time articulating why that is, but I personally think it comes from a recognition that we’re all connected. At some point of the night it dawned on me that, although I had met Emily once before, and even though we hadn’t spent a lot of time talking to each other, I truly did understand her. I understood where she was coming from and her approach to life.
The spiritually enlightened don’t need to explain complex theories of meditation or tell you about how “woke” they might be. These are the people who treat you like family when you’ve only just met. The ones that offer guidance but aren’t upset if you choose to disregard it. Periodically throughout the week someone would call me brother and embrace me in a hug. These individuals are the ones that create that human connection throughout the festival.
The New Adventurer
We run into these people at every festival. They’re frequently the ones that look over the moon, or overwhelmed, sometimes a little bit of both. They are your friend that seems overly eager to talk to everyone and each stage, set, and piece of artwork is both incredible and amazing. There’s a freshness about how they approach an event and it’s because they’ve never experienced anything like it. They’re the ones willing to try anything and will push their limits trying to take it all in.
I found myself frequently checking in on Michael and Derek at Oregon Eclipse. First festival and camping in the middle of nowhere and they were set on being truly present. The music wasn’t really the style they listen to on a regular basis so they didn’t really know any of the artists. This fact made it easy to convince them to move from stage to stage and go to workshops.
We did a morning meditation together, went to the lake, spent endless hours at the Sky stage, and experienced sound healing. The going all night thing was not something they were used to, but they stayed out till sunrise on at least one occasion. On the last day, I asked them what they thought and the answer came out as just a few words. It was obvious they needed time to reflect on what had happened all week, but they knew one thing for certain – they would do it again.
The new adventurer appears at any age, at any stage in life and frequently feels like they’ve taken on something much bigger than they bargained for. However, the clear eyes they bring are a wonderful reminder of why we come together.
The Caring Teacher
The time it takes to get into a festival may be horrible but it’s always weighed against the amount of time you actually get in the festival. So it stands to reason that if it takes you 4 hours to enter a 3-day festival that bad experience is fairly short comparatively. That being said, the 12 hours it took for us to get into the campgrounds were pretty ungodly horrible. Although, an overall a footnote of the festival itself, looking back on it, it was pretty bad.
As we waited we frequently got out of our cars to walk the line, socialize, and once it got dark just to star gaze. At some point Jon and I found ourselves sharing a conversation with a family of circus performers. It was the mom, dad, family friend, and 4 or 5 kids, I can’t quite remember. They were artists set to perform in Kidsbiosis.
They talked to us about other festival experiences and places they had been. They had attended Symbiosis last year and saw this as a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s not everyday that you meet a family that is so collectively supportive of events like this. I admired that they would take their kids to such a big event and teach them early on what communities like this meant. The kids were tired, after all, it was probably 8 hours into the line. The ones that were awake though just stared into the distance blankly.
Jon shared some stories of his own, some of his anxieties about getting here and how everything just seemed to come together. It was a story that Jon had both told and heard back multiple times throughout the night. It seems that every person in line struggled in some way to make this trip happen, and now here they were in line. This family and their family friend was no exception. They listened and offered words of reassurance that we weren’t dreaming, we had in fact arrived.
“Things have a funny way of working out the way they are supposed to.” The mother told us. Jon and I looked at each other, it was a sort of mantra we live in our own lives.
The caring teacher is the one that wants to share things with you. Whether you call them the mom or dad of the group, whether they have actual kids or not, they are the ones that want to leave something with you. Maybe it’s advice, or a crystal they wrapped themselves, maybe it’s information about a set you should check out. These are the people that care about your experience and hope they part ways with you better than when they found you.
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Featured Photo Credit: Carlos Lopez