Sometimes you have to be completely lost, before you are found. You have to swim in the deepest of seas, bobbing up and down, soaking in the vastness of the world around you. You have to believe there's land, even if you can't see it. Be a little afraid so you are overwhelmed with gratitude once you find your way. You have to be patient and let the current take you closer to shore. You can't fight the jet stream that life has us on. You can only swim along and enjoy the ride. Let the world take you where you need to go. Trust you will arrive exactly when you should. And know, above all else, everything will be fine.
Life lies in those serendipitous occurrences like missing the train, only to see a long lost friend standing besides you. It's deciding to walk left instead of right and bumping into that one person who popped in your head that exact morning. Life is an interesting string of not so random run-ins. See the magic in those moments. And believe you're exactly where you are supposed to be.
This is the epiphany I had at Burning Man 2013. It was my last day, I grabbed my bike for a final adventure around The Playa (the desert) and stumbled across the Believe sign as I had done so many times throughout the week.
I had stood in that particular spot just days prior with the same intentions - find someone to take a photo of Believe and I. A woman was standing a foot away and as I gestured my camera in her direction - before I could even ask - she shock her head "no" and stated, "I have to meet up with friends." My camera was in hand, it wouldn't have taken more than a few seconds. I was shocked. I thought, "Well, that isn't very Burning Man of her." Everyone is always supposed to say YES. That's the point, right? Burning Man is exactly what you want it to be, and I wanted a picture. As I took a deep breath, I attempted to reassure myself it clearly wasn't the right moment, hopped on my bike and went on my way. Even though I wanted to believe that was the truth, I was left feeling as though it was a missed opportunity and I just couldn't shake that.
But this time, as I pulled up, it was different. I stopped for a final time to soak it in and reached for my camera. Before I could even look around to find an innocent bystander, a man appeared offering his assistance to take my picture. It was as if he was waiting for me to arrive. He took a few photos and then asked if I would do him a favor.
He explained he was a photographer and gave me a piece of fabric and asked if I would climb on the sculpture and dance - letting the fabric blow in the wind. I don't know what came over me - I didn't even hesitate, I immediately said yes. As I walked toward the sign, I realized I had no idea how I would get up, let alone down. There weren't any ladders, but I knew I was going to do it. It wasn't an option.
When I climbed up, I was the only person on the entire sign. And everyone was watching. I'm not going to lie, it was hard to climb up. And even harder to climb down. There were moments when I was scared. But I just kept believing I could do it.
Something you might not know is that I hate being in front of the camera. HATE. I get this deeply insecure feeling that makes everything in my body freeze - like a deer caught in headlights. As an art director, I'm much more confident calling the shots from the safety of the sidelines. But what I'm sure you've gathered by now, is that I believe. I believe wholeheartedly that anything is possible. And at that moment, I didn't even question my insecurities or doubts. I just followed my heart and didn't look back.
But then something amazing started to happen, as I danced alone on the "E" waving my flowing fabric the photographer gave me, more people started to arrive. More people started to climb. More people started to dance. And more people shared in that epic moment I won't easily forget. To do something you don't think you are possible of is an extraordinarily overwhelming feeling.
Besides trusting in the universe, I learned two very important lessons that perhaps I already knew but wasn't fully able to trust. The first is that you will find a way if you really want to - that when you believe, anything is possible. And the second, is that everyone has the ability to believe. Everyone.
I'm now capable of understanding, had I've gotten a half-assed picture from someone two days earlier I would have missed out on a life changing moment. I had to be patient. I had to learn how to believe - not only in the world, but also have the strength and courage to believe in myself.
Leave it to me to start a dance party on "Believe."