When we finally drove over the Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur, we were only riding on a couple of hours of sleep. My business partner and I were already sixteen hours in for the long trek from the Arizona desert to Northern California’s lush Symbiosis Festival. When we finally made it to the gate a few hours later I found myself surrounded by waves of exuberantly dressed people of all shapes and sizes; I couldn’t help but feel like an outsider looking in.
This was my first transformational festival, but definitely not my first transformational experience. Fifteen months earlier I was living and teaching my way through Asia. I’ve meditated with Tibetan monks in Dhramshala, India and trekked through the Himalayas in Nepal. I mean, what could Symbiosis really offer me that was new I found myself wondering.
Each patch was an area or experience that has their own small world that they had created. Everywhere you went it seemed like a completely different place. It was an oasis-like farm town where people from all walks of life gathered.
After setting up our camp we walked down the iconic Rainbow Highway, then down through the marketplace, and arrived finally at The Other. There were floating beds and people dancing in the water around an anchored DJ set. We walked by the Family Circus and I started to meet some of the residents inhabiting my new home. That night after meeting new friends we got ready to travel to the Fringe. I had seen the stage during the day, but at night it looked like something that came out of Dune. We then made our way past Empire of Love as the music began getting louder and louder until we eventually came to a sea of gorgeous people. At that time Opiuo was finishing up and Gramatik took the stage.
The next day I wanted to explore the small worlds that people had created for Symbiosis so I spent a lot of time going through the marketplace. I got to talk to some very unique vendors such as Phoenix Rising, From War to Peace, and my favorite Third Eye Pinecones with their hand-crafted, organic forest wear. It was very refreshing talking to people that are following their passion and sharing it with total strangers. When we finished checking out the vendors I traveled back to the Fringe to enjoy Santigold and RL Grime before starting our 16 hour journey back to Phoenix, Arizona.
Symbiosis was a strange but exciting experience for me. I didn’t transform so much as it helped me remember a time in my life when I was really happy. It became an opportunity to meet people who were like me that were going through similar experiences. I am definitely looking forward to traveling back for Symbiosis Gathering next year.
Photos by: Tomer Greenfield