Photo Credit to nytimes.com Article by Rikki Red
Breathe in, breathe out.
Now, allow yourself to join me on a journey that I am confident we’re all in dire need of. We’re going on a journey back to the 15th day of August in the year 1969, where we’ll find ourselves at one of the most historic festivals in the history of the world of music: Woodstock.
People from all over the map gathered in Bethel, New York, existing together for a weekend in total peace and harmony. They experienced something that many of us have never dreamed of, let alone experienced in our lifetimes. Nearly half a million people spent three days sharing food and shelter, not even thinking twice before graciously helping anyone around them that may have been in need.
Today, it can feel like most of us focus our energies on serving ourselves the best we can, rather than asking ourselves what we can do for our neighbor. Such a selfless group of strangers sounds almost unheard of just fifty-one years later. I find myself wondering what would have transpired if they hadn’t all been there for the same purpose. Would it have been as peaceful as it was?
Maybe, maybe not.
However, it’s obvious to most of us that something like that ever happening again is extremely unlikely.
But is it really?
What did they have that we don’t?
Why does it seem to appear that everywhere we go, there’s a sense of impending danger?
The attendees at Woodstock had no visible security. There weren’t security officers walking up and down the rows of people, watching their every little move, ready to pull a weapon out and protect the masses. It was basically an unspoken rule that everyone there would treat each other with respect and kindness, devoting their time solely to enjoying the live music, making connections, and simply existing.
There have been so many times in my short, almost twenty-six years of life that I’ve wished I could transport myself back to that moment for real. There have been so many times that I’ve wished that as soon as Richie Havens opened his mouth and sang the first words to From the Prison I’d been there to sing along with him. I imagine the people in the crowd wrapping their arms around each other and swaying along to the music, thriving in the sheer euphoria of the moment.
Photo Credit to cnn.com
When each of those people showed up at Woodstock, I doubt they expected that they’d be a part of history. I doubt they expected that in the year 2020, a young woman would be writing an article about them, wishing that she’d been able to witness the peace and bliss that they had. I doubt that it would’ve even mattered to them.
I like to think that they were so “in the moment” that it felt as though nothing else mattered, like they were at the center of the universe. I like to think that they found themselves so lost in the music and community that it felt like they became one with it.
I like to imagine how it felt.
I’ll be the first one to say that whenever I attend a show with live music, I do my best to feel that way. I go to a lot of concerts alone and whenever I do, I make it a point to talk to the people around me, finding common ground and making connections I otherwise would probably have never made. I also try to focus on the vocals, the instruments, the way the room moves along with the music, the echo throughout the venue, the way it feels like I’m a part of something so much bigger than myself… but I know not everyone feels that way.
It’s hard to, sometimes.
We live in a day and age where we spend so much time worrying about what everyone around us is thinking about us that we can’t fully engage with the situation at hand. We spend so much time making sure that we don’t look silly that we end up missing the moments almost entirely. If we’re not worried about ourselves, we’re usually spending our time watching other people, silently (or not-so-silently) judging their behavior.
Why do we behave this way now? How do we go back to the way things were?
I implore you to live in the moment. Sure, we’re all quarantined right now and we can’t physically attend concerts with masses of people anymore, but we can still experience similar excitement. Watch the online concerts, turn the world off around you and lose yourself in the music. Find an artist that you’re passionate about and scroll through hashtags or blogs, make those connections. Think about previous shows you’ve been to and rewatch the videos, take yourself back to the moment when you stood in the venue, no worries in the world other than the music reverberating around the room.
Help people around you. Make sure that everyone is taken care of, to the best of your ability, whenever you can. Introduce people to the music that changed your life, maybe it will change theirs too.
Photo Credit to radiodirect.com
We can’t gather in a group of 450,000 people and watch historic live performances right now… but I firmly believe that we are in dire need of a virtual Woodstock ‘20. We need the music, we need the community, we need the experiences. We’re lucky enough to live in such a digital age that these experiences are at our fingertips… take advantage of that.
Billboard has been keeping us updated with live concerts that are coming up. Scroll through, see if there’s someone you’ve never heard of, look them up and get excited for this. 2020 has been a difficult year, but it doesn’t have to be quite so bad, as long as we utilize the resources we have.
However long we have left in quarantine, however long we have until changes are made in the government, however long it takes for us to finally reach that “new normal” we’ve all been hearing about… I hope in the mean time you’ll join me for Woodstock 2020 - after all, we’re each the special guest.