In my previous post I shared one of Jack White’s quotes from his Bonnaroo performance. I didn’t get to see his show, but my friend and coworker did, and it sparked our conversation about staying open (minded, hearted) and allowing space to let the magic in.
For the fourth year in a row I worked at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee. When I tell people I travel around the country working at music festivals they are excited and sometimes jealous. “You must see so much awesome music,” they say. And sometimes I do. But usually I work 12 hours or more a day and don’t get a chance to see a full set, let alone a full song. Usually I’m too exhausted, emotionally drained, and frustrated/stressed about work to stick around for any shows.
It wasn’t always like this, but lately the work has felt just like that: work. I’ve forgotten to stop and think about what I’m actually doing. So many times I’ve driven through crowds of beautiful people without even appreciating how wonderful and colorful they’ve been. I’ve been too focused on driving slowly and getting to work on time. I’ve gotten off work, stepped into a magical, festival environment that’s so thoughtfully and artfully created, and I’ve overlooked everything to get to the staff catering tent in time for dinner. I’ve gotten caught up on the small things that don’t matter and have forgotten to look at the bigger picture.
At the end of Jack White’s set he said, “We all know that in your heart you love music.”
This year at Bonnaroo when I felt frustrated at work, I took a step back. I caught my breath and reminded myself, “Hey, April, you’re working at a music festival. This is something you’ve wanted to do for years and you’ve been doing it for years. You’re working at a music festival, and you’re educating people about something that matters to the planet, to humankind.”
In moments of stress and frustration, it’s so important to take a step back and think about what’s actually happening. I love music. I love music and how it connects us, pulls us, motivates, inspires, and soothes us. I love music, and that’s why I got involved in the music festival industry to begin with. Sometimes, even at music festivals, I get so dialed in to a work problem that I forget about the music.
This is a promise to myself to never forget how much I love music, to never forget how much music binds us. To know that regardless of the work-related issues, there’s always the music. There’s always the connection and magic that music and creation provide.
My friend who saw Jack White said that he reminded her to leave time for the magic to happen. She realized that this year she was so caught up in work that she didn’t allow herself to be open to the magic of Bonnaroo either. She was just too busy and too tired. We talked about life behind the scenes at corporate music festivals and how working effects your festival experience.
To everyone who works in the music festival business (specifically the corporate ones, although I’d love to hear opinions about smaller ones as well), how do you separate work from pleasure while working events?
Always leave time and space for the magic to happen. Don’t let the stressful moments of life affect the bigger picture. This relates to so many aspects of life: relationships, friendships, adventures, etc. With love and work and all things in between, stay open.
Keep listening, even if you’ve heard a lot. Keep sharing, even if the stories are painful. Keep trying, even if you’ve been rejected. Keep observing, even if you’ve seen many things. Keep listening to the music, even if you’ve been to hundreds of concerts. Keep your heart open, regardless of how many times it’s been broken. Keep suggesting ideas, even if you feel unheard. Keep smiling, even if you feel like no one is smiling back. Stay open to life, love, festivals, new experiences and everything that being alive brings.
“Anything is possible.
Stay open, forever.
So open, it hurts and then open up some more,
until the day you die, world without end.