It is said that change is as good as a holiday. I desperately needed to hit my refresh button …. after all the craziness that leads up to Christmas… I was feeling overwhelmed by social expectations and cultural conforments. And so on a whim, a day before Christmas I decided to go to Confest. An alternative lifestyle festival that takes place in the deep hinterland of NSW, about 10 hours drive inland from Sydney, that I have heard about for years, but it just hadn’t been my time. My friend, who is a meditation teacher Frazer, convinced me that it was exactly what I needed. Confest stands for Conference and Contribution Festival. That in itself is kind of self explanatory. It is a week of workshops given by experts in their fields, voluntarily, on an enormous range of topics from tantric massage to sail boat building. (Yes, I agree….rather strange!)
Being the dreamy, completely unorganised creature that I am and not being at all set up for camping, Frazer organised everything: a lift to the festival from one person, all the camping gear to be delivered by another. Apparently I was set to go. My world had aligned itself. Or not. My initial ride fell through, though luckily I found another within a couple of hours going to Melbourne (and thereby very close to Confest) and early the day after Boxing day we left on our road trip into the dry and rolling landscaped of the Australian inlands. We spent the night in the most gorgeous winery village of Rutherglen (I highly recommend it, beautiful, sensual with a whole 22 wineries to keep you entertained) and the next day my friends departed on their way, whilst I stayed and pondered life and my next move. Finally, once again Frazer came to my rescue and arranged for some friends of his to pick me up on their way through. And guess who my knights in shining armour on their great steeds were?
Yes…. that’s right. You guessed it. The two “german” guys from the Le Snack Deli ad above. And yes, I know, very, very random coincidence (if you can call it that). Welcome to my life.
So these two gentlemen and their entourage which consists of the community they run a couple of hours outside of Sydney, were on their way to Confest and hearing that there was a fair maiden in distress in a small town along the way, very kindly offered their services and took me in. They run a community known as White Gums, you can find out more about them if you are interested by clicking on the link provided. Personally, even though I love the concept of communities, I have yet to see them actually work. Anyway, I digress. Not only did these guys offer me a lift but also warmly welcomed me into their community for the duration of the festival and practically built me a palace complete with tent and cushions and everything imaginable to ease the camping experience into being quite enjoyable and luxurious.
Upon arrival and spending a day setting up the community area which included the camp site as well as a workshop space, I came to realise a significant detail that I may or may not have been aware of prior to coming to Confest. I’m not sure, but I can’t remember consciously thinking about it. Confest is a clothing optional festival. Basically that meant there was A LOT OF NAKED PEOPLE. Everywhere. Needless to say, I chose to keep my clothes on, though not without the clear encouragement from our Le Snack brothers to try going nude. No. Thank you. Only in my bedroom. Not that I have an issue with naked people. Not at all. I just have an issue with people staring at me when I’m naked. That’s all.
After an initial day of settling in, I was loving it. I having been going to alternative lifestyle and music festivals all my life. They are like a second home to me, I feel so content and happy and at ease there amongst the freaks, the trippers and the little bit strange (even if there’s lots of naked people!). I met hundreds of amazing, inspiring, creative, interesting people, went to loads of workshops and discussions on topics such as: Quantum Physics, Numerology, Laughter Yoga, Health and Nutrition, Body Painting and Theatre, and danced the nights away to melodic gypsy music and tribal drumming. One worksop that captured my heart and soul was the Spontaneous Choir.
Allow me to first say that even though I am very open and non-judgemental and into alternative lifestyle ideas, I actually really dislike airy fairy hippy shit. I think there are far too many concepts that are ridiculously overplayed and over-intellectualised and create some kind of silly phenomenon that people buy into. I truly believe in keeping it all very simple. There is a very fine line between what is real what is some kind of crazy ideology. Having said that, I believe there are many things going on with-in and with-out us that are very real even though we can’t see them, or measure them by scientific standards.
One of the many exercises we did in the spontaneous choir was when the white-haired wizard-like conductor instructed us to create two lines with our faces to each other. There we are, 200 people, mostly all strangers, facing each other. And one by one we pass through the human tunnel. From one end to the other. Eyes shut tight. And all I hear are hundreds of human voices, some high, some low, some whispers. Saying…. “I love you”. Gently touching me as I pass. I can not even begin to express what a sensation that is. What an emotion that wells up in heart. And how real and true that love feels. From strangers. Honest. Deep. Raw. It was an experience unlike any other.
It shows how words and emotions can stir your soul and reminds me of the water experiment by Masaru Emoto. If you haven’t already, I strongly recommend you read his book Messages from Water. This little video will give you a basic idea of his concepts.
Days passed like this. A whole week. Including New Years eve. In a contented camping bliss of deep discussions, swims in the river, intermittent naps, but mostly fun and laughter and playing and dancing. I read the entire infamous novel The Road Trip by Jack Kerouac. And then passed it on to an Irish backpacker. The opportunity to reflect on the past year and look forward into the future. For me personally the entire week reflected an enormous range of resolutions. Closures and new beginnings. Which makes 2012 a blank slate and an exciting new start. This is going to be a good year. I can feel it!