Are you really ready for your summer vacation? ~ Kassie Mitchell
About three weeks ago I began preparing for my summer vacation. Like all good packers, I compiled a list of items I felt I would need for my month-long adventure. When I’d acquire something, I’d put it in the corner of my bedroom. As the days went by, the pile in the corner began to grow and with it the list of things I felt I was going to need.
You see, my vacation starts August 3rd and ends September 4th and a majority of the time spent in-between these two dates will be in either a Winnebago or a tent.
For a woman, this fact alone can prove challenging. I don’t roll out of bed looking naturally sun-kissed and there’s a front piece of hair I’ve been battling with since the age I could talk. Spending a month on the road means I need to have a few essentials on hand for the days when I wake up in a scorching-hot tent, feeling less than desirable.
So I stopped and grabbed the essentials – lotion, a little make-up – just a few items that a lady needs to feel comfortable. We’ve all got our own list of what those things are. Yours might be mascara, your best friends might be her blistex. I can’t go anywhere without 4 brushes at my disposal. We all have a beauty vice and brushes are mine.
I added these items to the pile and mentally moved down my checklist.
The first stop on my month-long road trip is Shambhala Musical Festival in Salmo River, British Columbia. It’ll be my third year at the farm and definitely my most anticipated. It’s a chance to be your weirdest self within one of the most breathtaking landscapes that Mother Nature can provide. You’re able to play make believe with your closest friends and for the few short days that you’re out there, reality is somewhere far, far away.
Shambhala Music Festival 2012 Photo by Leigh-Anne Hazard
So I began to sift through my costumes, carefully pondering what would make the cut. I brought out some old favorites only to find myself reminiscent, enjoying the memories that were made while wearing them. I added some new garments to the mix too and soon, I had a tickle-trunk of options filled to the top. The pile in my bedroom continued to grow.
With my beauty essentials and Shambhala garb checked off the list, my thoughts travelled to the next leg of my journey. You see, after I leave the heroic mountains of B.C. and cross through the sunny lands of California, I will eventually find myself in the desert of Nevada, where the final destination on my road trip awaits.
Burning Man. It’s a festival I’ve been waiting years to attend, a trip that not-so-long ago was just a wishful idea.
Burning Man 2013 Photo by Leigh-Anne Hazard.
Anyone can over-pack. It’s not hard to throw everything into a bag and hope for the best. However, a savvy packer is intuitive and reserved. He or she doesn’t bring just about anything that crosses their mind. They pack only the necessary. A fine line exists between the prepared and the excessive and as I stared at the pile of items in my bedroom that had begun to spill out onto the floor, I realised I was straddling that line very closely.
I was at a loss. I think part of it was because of the reverence I hold for Burning Man. I’ve idealized this festival for the better part of my adult life. I’ve read and researched all that I can. My bikes adorned with flowers, my goggles have been cleaned and set aside. I’ve planned outfits upon outfits and bathing suits for days and yet, somehow, I still felt unprepared.
As a 26-year-old woman, I knew within seconds what beauty items I would need. As a third time Shambhala-er, I felt confident as I brought items to my bedroom and secured them in the pile. But as a first time Burner, I felt confused. Burning Man seemed to call for something so much more. Like a sensibility I didn’t have or a readiness I wasn’t aware of.
It seemed like I had all the things I was going to need. I’d even come to terms with the fact that there was going to be some things that I hadn’t thought of and hopefully, I would be able to live without. I guess I was ready, even though I didn’t feel like it.
So with one week before my departure and my packing officially completed, I found myself sitting on my bed, staring at the pile one last time. Something just wasn’t right. I was still left with this haunting sense of incompleteness.
I knew it came from my impending experience at Burning Man.
Was it just nerves? Was I overthinking the trip?
I decided to do a little more reading, hoping to put my mind at ease. So I grabbed my laptop and sat on my bed, perusing the same sites I’d been over a dozen times before. And as I gazed across the 10 Guiding Principles of Burning Man, I caught an idea. Kind of an Ah Ha! Moment. Maybe I had all the material items a girl was going to need, but maybe the preparation that was left to be done was in my mind.
I’d packed my outfits, my make-up… I was covered on all my lady bases. But I hadn’t established some things in my head – the proverbial pile of information in the corner of my mind was incomplete. So I began to meditate on the principles – radical inclusion, decommodification, communal effort, participation – and I spent time relating them to myself.
Burning Man 2013 Photo by Leigh-Anne Hazard.
I thought about how I was going to participate at Burning Man, how I was going to relate these principles in my own actions. And even though my genuine experience in the desert was yet to come, I began to understand how I was going to contribute under that desert sun.
We can make lists and set months ahead of time to pack. But part of the journey of preparedness begins in the travellers mind and heart. Whether it’s Burning Man, Shambhala, a trip to another continent or just to a neighboring province…packing requires all elements of one’s self.
So I finished packing mentally, storing up my knowledge. I put away my laptop and for the next couple of days I let the Burning Man philosophies marinate in my mind. That haunting sense of unpreparedness began to slowly drift away.
I can assure you there will be days where I will wish I’d have packed that third sweater or that back-up fifth hair brush that I decided against. But I will always have in my mind a sense of mental preparedness, a willingness for exploration. As women, we sometimes overlook the mental element of a trip, focusing solely on the material items that we’ll need. But preparing your mind for your travels, regardless of the destination, can be just as important.
So I’m four days from go-time and I think that I’m ready. My bags are zipped up and my gladiator sandals are ready for departure. However, I think if there’s one thing I’ve come to terms with over these past few weeks, it’s the knowledge that in the end, I will be relying more on myself than on any of the items that made it from the pile into my bag.
Kassie Mitchell is a writer, blogger and devoted music lover from Edmonton, Alberta.
To contact her, hit her up on twitter @kassieeee or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. You can use promo code SUMMERLOVIN to get 25% off your order for the month of August <3