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How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one's culture but within oneself? If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse. There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light. - Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams

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On The Road To Shambhala
August 15, 2005

I just got home from Shambhala, and I've entered the stage of Shambhala-not. For you see, there is only Shambhala, and Shambhala-not.

What is Shambhala? Technically it's a music festival near Salmo, British Columbia. However, it's a lot more than that, and it's an experience difficult to describe to someone who hasn't been.

What I can tell you is that it's a gathering of approximately 8,000 people (grows larger every year), from all walks of life, but primarily hippie-type folks.

I myself don't exude many hippiesh characteristics. I wash my hair, I eat meat, and I like money, but it sure is fun to relax in hippie style.

It's a well organized event, but doesn't have the feel of being commercialized, and it's set on a gorgeous privately-owned 500 acre ranch.

It's 3 days long, and your typical Shambhala day looks something like this:

  • Wake up, crawl out of your tent.
  • Cook some breakfast, smoke some pot.
  • Walk to a large sandy beach area, with great chill-out music playing on the beach stage.
  • Lay down, watch topless girls hula-hooping.
  • Cool off in the water, buy watermelon from the naked watermelon-selling chick.
  • Meet some of the friendliest, most unpretentious people you'll ever find.
  • Go have a delicious lunch served by one of the Shambhala vendors.
  • Watch some skateboarding at the skate-pit, smoke more pot.
  • Meet more great people.
  • At night, wander back and forth between one of the 5 stages playing a variety of music, from break-beats to trance.
  • Party until dawn.
  • Repeat as necessary.

    There's a reason people enter a Shambhala-not stage of depression, for it's such an amazing place that you can't help but feel down when you leave.

    All you can do is wait for the next Shambhala.