Tomorrow morning I’m heading back to Nanjing, China to visit my brother, my sister-in-law, and my brand new – and first ever – nephew!
This will be the fourth time I have gone over to Nanjing to visit my brother, and unfortunately, this is also going to be my shortest visit; however, this is also the first time I’m seeing my nephew! Hopefully I’ll manage to take some real quality pictures and share my experience with all of you!
As of right now, I’m just struggling with the decision of whether it is worth staying up for the five remaining hours until I need to wake up and head off to the airport – I am dreading this upcoming 15 hour flight. Oh well! Ideally I’ll end up being so delirious from exhaustion that I’ll just manage to sleep the entire plane ride… the fact that I already feel the delirium creeping in is not a good sign.
Those were some stereotypical pictures of China I took the last few times I was there, that I think I am legally obligated to post. Likewise, here is a generic Chinese gem of wisdom, from Lao-tzu: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” He must be onto something – just look at how big he is!
For the past two weeks I have been road tripping from my home in New Jersey t0 Chicago, then to Bonnaroo in Tennessee with some great friends. Although I am not yet back from my epic Bonnaroo road trip, I feel the need to write this post before some of the Bonnaroo lessons I learned completely vanish. Not all of these lessons are completely related to Bonnaroo, and they aren’t in any particular order, but here they are none-the-less (this will be in no way an exhaustive list)!
My first stop on the way to Bonnaroo was Pittsburg, PA. I was partially amazed by how beautiful Pittsburgwas…what really surprised me, however, was that according to a waiter we had (before he began to make fun of us for our lack of geography knowledge) the city considered itself part of the Mid-West.
The North East is extremely unfriendly compared to the rest of the country – amazingly so. I’ve always considered myself a friendly person, if a little reticent about being outgoing, but no matter how friendly I may be it can’t compete with Mid-Western or Southern hospitality. Seriously, those people are so friendly it put me slightly on edge…
Having said number 2, I have never felt more welcomed anywhere – in a general sense – than I did at Bonnaroo. Although the festival has 80,000+ people attending, most likely all for very different goals, everyone was unified in the ideal of being friendly and welcoming. It didn’t matter if you were volunteering or just there for a get-away, or if you’re a hardcore Phish-head; no, the only thing that mattered was your general disposition. Simply put, the number of Bonnaroovians I saw – and experienced – carrying around super soakers in the middle of the day to help cool people off was astounding… and fully appreciated.
Going along with this, water is awesome. I generally only drink water throughout the day anyway, but I never realized how great it was until I was in the middle of Tennessee at 2pm.
Technology is overrated. Seriously. The four days at Bonnaroo when I had nothing to worry about – no working phone or computer or e-mail – were some of the least stressful and enjoyable of my life. If it wasn’t for this blog I might become a Luddite.
Always make sure to prepare! Prior to Bonnaroo I did very little research of my own about what to experience, and instead relied on a friend to advise us about what to buy…luckily, he knew what he was talking about! We almost didn’t bother buying a canopy before we arrived, which would have been a huge mistake. Shade quickly became my best friend.
It always pays to try something new and look from a fresh perspective. In general, I can be a semi to complete germaphobe, not to mention being freaked out by insects and spiders. Not anymore! I got real dirty at Bonnaroo, as did everyone else – it’s inescapable. You know what, though? I’m completely fine. I was stained by dirt and dust, and survived; I had insects crawling all over me and slept in a flooded tent one night and survived. Hell, I thrived. I now know that, although I generally prefer a life of comfort, I can put up with using port-a-potties for four days and be fine with it. This might be one of the most important lessons for me since, in two months, I am heading out to Eastern Turkey for nine months and I have no idea what my living situations will be like; however, I am sure I will manage to thrive there too.
There is a real, intrinsic, desire in people to see the things they love succeed. Radiohead may be my favorite band – and the band I was most excited to see at Bonnaroo – but Phantogram was by far the most emotional show for me. I first saw them perform at Rutgers over two years ago, where they played to maybe around 200 people. Seeing them now at Bonnaroo, performing for thousands, was a truly wonderful thing to see.
Completely unrelated to anything else, but Indianapolis has surprisingly good hipster-Cajun food.
If you’re ever in Nashville, make sure to go to Sam’s Sushi Bar. Although he flipped me off when we first came in – he notoriously hates new customers and large parties, both categories we unfortunately fit into – he slowly warmed up to us and decided to serve us. The food was amazing, and came in huge portions. Sam was also incredibly friendly once he realized we had no evil ulterior motives…or something… He also gave us the valuable life lesson of not starting bar brawls in Nashville since, apparently, everyone carries guns with them.
It is always worth it to pay it forward. By making sure you help others when you are capable, you create good feelings which well may work it’s way back to you. If not, at least you help to increase everyone’s net happiness.
Radiohead continues to put on the best light shows I have ever seen.
Beef jerky is the food of the gods and should be treated as such. It is also great for camping, where it will give you plenty of energy and will not go bad.
Festivals are a great experience, and I thoroughly encourage everyone to go to at least one. Seeing so many disparate people managing to work together to create something amazing – basically a wonderland – is inspiring and gives me plenty of hope for the future.
There are probably a lot more Bonnaroo lessons I’ve learned, experiences I’ve gained or stories I have to share. Unfortunately, I can’t really think of anything else right now – and this list is pretty large as it is. Although reading this might not be worthwhile, Bonnaroo itself absolutely was.