How did I get to be so fearful of living life? Maybe its because I fear not fitting into the confines of society. Or maybe I fear not living up to perceived expectations. Society has tried to sell us all on a cookie cutter lifestyle. They inject fear into our souls to keep us at bay. This fear prevents us from seeking and benefiting from the real gold that lies within us all— our undeniable and individual authenticity.

How one becomes fearful of living is truly a difficult question to answer because we are ever-evolving beings and the world is constantly changing around us. However, as we grow wiser and experience more life experiences, we must realize that we have to find joy in our daily routines. We have to live neither in the past or the future, but in the PRESENT! And we have to experience Lightning In A Bottle (LIB) music festival at least once in this life.

At LIB, the divine one within all of us is awakened, and instead of operating around fear, the 20,000 souls that are present operate around love. There is a fearless spirit surrounding everyone there, and a willingness to be unique and authentic.

Being fearless is actually a personal mantra that I meditate on and recommend others to meditate on every single day. To be fearless is to be ok with the unknown, to surrender control and to have a spirit of peace no matter what life presents to you. Being fearless means always moving away from fear and moving towards love. It also means moving towards attending LIB and discovering how you can give yourself the most amazing, liberating experience of your life.

LIB: is a four-day music festival that incorporates art, yoga, motivational speakers and workshops. It’s a place where you can let your hair down, be yourself and be totally embraced for it. It is a safe haven for people from all walks of life, and people from all over the world come together in the name of love, life and art.

This is the second year I have attended this whimsical festival accompanied by my beautiful wife and my closest friends. As we arrived in Bradley, CA, the excitement was absolutely palpable. Upon our arrival, the rolling hills quickly became home to thousands of tents, canopies and clever contraptions to turn a dried up lakebed into a tent city paradise.

Those four days truly felt like heaven on earth, and it has created a paradigm shift from one of fear to one of love and openness towards life. Check out my personal diary and account of my time at LIB below. I hope that by sharing my experience, it will encourage others to embark upon the LIB adventure to basque in the love and self-acceptance that is so easy to miss in the typical daily grind in this life when caught up in the rat race.

DAY 1, THURSDAY (5.28.15): This first night on the campsite provided the opportunity for people to socialize and get a lay of the land as the main event didn’t start until Friday. An 80’s themed prom was held that night, and since I wasn’t able to take my wife to prom when we were in high school, I took advantage of the opportunity and asked her to be my date. I also unofficially-officially made us King and Queen of the festival, even bringing along sashes for us to wear to the event.

After a brief stay at the prom, we decided to survey the land and take in the beauty of the live art installations as well as fellow festivalgoers and their array of costumes. At the far end of the festival, we stumbled across a massive bon fire surrounded by beautiful humans talking about their life experiences— therapy to my ears. I tried to listen to every single conversation of struggle and perseverance all at once. One conversation that sticks out in my mind happened between a Jamaican shaman and a beautiful caramel colored woman with green sultry eyes. They were talking to one of my friends, and they had bonded over their mutual Haitian heritage. It was a beautiful moment of the shared African American presence at this festival. Their conversation was like free-flowing poetry as they passed onwisdom about life and how we’re all linked to the universe.

As their conversation came to a close, my wife turned to me and presented me with a gift. It was a leather bracelet. As I examined the bracelet I see that there is a metal plate implanted on it with the word ‘Fearless.’ What a powerful way to end of our first day.

DAY 2, FRIDAY (5.29.15): Lightning is let out of the bottle and good music can be heard from all directions. As noon strikes, the official start of the festivities begins. Everyone is dressed for the occasion as many have planned their outfits carefully for the 3 day event.

What are the fashion rules at this festival? NONE! This event allows for everyone to put on a personalized fashion show and make the desert pathways their own personal runway. In fact, I have to admit that fashion has become one of the the art forms I most appreciate at this event as it allows people to express and discover innovative ways to mesh different styles. Personally, I tend to dress in bright colors with a hip-hop rave flare. There is tons of dust in the air, so I accessorize with head scarves that cover my mouth and nose. This prevents the dust from getting into my lungs and it looks FLY!

This year, I decided to not have a set schedule, allowing me to live presently. Typically my festival is spent rushing around to catch my next favorite DJ or meeting up with a group of friends every hour. What I experienced with my more relaxed approach to L.I.B. this year sparked a feeling of freedom and excitement of the unknown. And it also guided me in the discovery of new amazing DJ’s, artists and friends along the way. As the group I arrived to L.I.B. with was making their way to catch Made in Heights at the main stage on Friday, I was taken over by the funk and bass of Gladkill at the Thunder Stage and never even made it back to my original group. That set the tone for the rest of my festival and allowed me to let go of control. This allowed the human experience of the festival to unfold freely and was truly a breath of fresh air.

DAY 3, SATURDAY (5.30.15): I decided to spend my time on this day utilizing the many workshops, speakers and yoga classes available. I danced blind-folded at yoga for thirty minutes listening to an array of house and trance music with 100 other souls. I listened to Neal Donald Walsh discuss the importance of us becoming aware of what is happening in our broken society and how we can influence change. I even attended a sex talk discussion with my entire group that discussed masturbation using porn and its effect on our sexual experience.

The porn and masturbation workshop triggered an in-depth discussion with two of my best male friends that night. As a male, I had always felt that it was taboo to talk with other men about masturbation and our use of porn. We spent almost two hours talking about how porn had negatively affected our sexual experience with the women in our lives. I came to the personal conclusion that it’s not the porn that’s the problem, it’s why and how one uses it. We also concluded that masturbation is a personal and sacred relationship that we have with ourselves. It was a wonderful change of pace having discussions with other men about sex that had substance. I will never forget these moments and how they have brought light into my life.

DAY 4, SUNDAY (5.31.15): Sunday was the final day of festivities. Emotions tend to run high on this final day as we know we have to say our goodbyes soon. Music was secondary Sunday as the excitement came from my wife purchasing her first substantial art piece to start her collection. The painting resonated with her as soon as she saw it, and the essence of her soul was captured in the piece. Having seen her go through her own personal struggles, I’ve also seen the power that art and music have on her spirit. It was in that moment that I realized that L.I.B. serves as a re-charging station for humanity to prepare to go back into society. It is in an experience that can fully charge your internal battery so that you can have the energy to fight the fear in our ‘normal’ lives with a fearless spirit.

Just like at L.I.B., it is essential that we find a way to dance every chance we get in this life! Lightning in a Bottle offers a brief glimpse of what can be in our everyday lives, and it helps us to find our authentic selves so that we may carry them with us when things get tough. It is an experience that helps us dance freely like no one is watching, free of judgment— FEARLESSLY.

– James Hollis, HOC Contributor