I completely understand that many folks out there cannot fully grasp the concept of the spiritual awakening, presence, and power Phish has over a unique mass of individuals who truly consider Phish their form of religion. But the inability to grasp does not mean it does not exist. It exists oh too real.
I woke up in the early hours of the morning today from a series of unpleasant dreams that weave in and out of being on the brink of unknown knowledge and acceptance of something unpleasant. I haven't had dreams or more specifically the feelings upon awakening like this since coming to the realization of a significant others infidelity or newly loss of interest - something I have always been psychically sensitive too. So needless to say, my vibes this morning were not depleted, they were in pain.
And this is due to not getting pre-order Phish tickets yesterday. For some this may seem silly and even stupid, for me and many others it is real and painful. And as I said in the Phish video clip, Phish is a relationship...
I first heard of Phish in high school and was intrigued by the small number of kids who were Phishheads. I was more of the drama and music queen and any of my "hipper" qualities were spent with kids from other schools - experiencing music and life. I guess you could say my youthful need to fit in, stand out, and develop a sense of self led me to occupy two dual personas - one at school and one out of school. And I would learn from each.
College was a fantastic time to become somebody else, or better yet - embody both of my high school personas into one. I could still stand out in my headstrong motivation, but I could be the inner hippie I always felt deep inside and could further explore music. By sophomore year I was finally introduced to the music of Phish and listened to it heavily for two years before attending my first show. A show where I found the music to so intricately match emotions, inflections, and feelings in me I couldn't imagine my life without it. But it also brought me to a new place - a place where once again I felt like I didn't really fit in, yet I did fit in. My young soul and certain deep rooted insecurities, propelled by the growing judgment in the Phish scene (which of course I knew nothing of then), spurred a burning need to develop my individuality further.
I moved to Nashville, Tennessee when I graduated by myself to spread my wings. It never occurred to me to go on tour and from the beginning shows were a very personalized and individual commitment for me - something I learned and experienced very much by myself, never with the same group or crew. Throughout my twenties I saw Phish as much as I could when they were in the area I was living in with whoever I knew at the time who would go - from boyfriends, to random friends, to strangers. As I developed myself more and more into an adult, without increasing financial stability as a member of the Generation X "poorest generation," I grew bitter and sometimes downright angry that I didn't go on tour with Phish or travel the country as a young 20-something and have those few years of freedom and life that so many of my friends have had. I would justify it by saying I would continue working hard in my public relations career so that one day I could be financially independent - the only way I could see the music I wanted to see, when I wanted to see it, and travel where I needed to go.
In 2000 I moved to Burlington, Vermont like so many others because of the power of the music that was created there and the vortex of energy which exists in this Northern Vermont mecca of creation and as I learned after the move, the cost of living challenges. This move shifted again the people I saw Phish with and also kept me plugging along the career path. Sometimes I felt like I was back in high school - seeing the people I wanted to be hanging out with, but hanging out with others who besides our "corporate work similarities" had nothing in common. Again I used the different personas to cope - being a corporate type at work, a hippie at Phish shows, a hottie on the town as a lonely single chick, and a homebody cat lady - but never just myself with the friends and music I had always craved. Sometimes the only times I felt completely whole and alive was at Phish shows - talking, connecting, dancing, laughing, and experiencing with people everywhere who were also dancing to release, listening to remember, and shining their brightest lights.
And then Phish ended. And how I cried. It was the end of a relationship. It was devastating. I still lacked financial independence, my debt was huge, jobs paying crap, I had a small group of friends I had seen the last several Phish shows with, but many lived far away. I still lacked the friendships I craved for, was still floating in and out of doomed relationships, and worst of all was just heading into my Saturn Return.
But Phish left its mark - heavily. Phish ending left me no reason to not make some major changes in my life. I knew the loneliness and relationship shuffle must end. I knew the lamenting about my career needed to stop. I knew I needed to find those friends who were out there because the next Phish show wasn't going to provide me with an opportunity to maybe connect with them.
In the two to three years since Phish ended and I completed my Saturn Return and fully embarked on my life as a 30-something, I started hitting any show at Higher Ground I could and would go by myself and started meeting people. Not people boozing at a downtown bar, but people who lived for music. I shlopped through my last and final dumbass relationship. I quit my job and vowed to never, ever have an identity crisis between being corporate and being a hippie again.
And now, as the excitement of Phish has been growing and the band has returned, I am engaged, I am financially independent running my own Vermont public relations company as a corporate hippie, and I have the most amazing and fantastic friends who all live for live music I could have ever wished for. Phish returning caused me a lot of anxiety and mixed emotions - the financial commitment attached to seeing Phish, the schedule crunches, and purely the mixed emotions of having a relationship you ended return with promises of feelings and experiences which made you who you are. I thought about these things, listened to the music, talked about the experiences and expectations, and most importantly of all, engaged in these things with my fiance and friends who I smiled at from afar at every show, only now to be smiling at each other face to face.
So why do I wake up this morning in painful disillusionment? Because of the stress of even being able to go. Scoring a ticket is ridiculous. I tried for the four Northeast shows in the pre-sale and got denied everything. This is a lottery system that leaves it all to chance and I have watched the majority of my friends get tickets. How can I not be jealous? How can I not take it personally? When the Phish machine is such a personal, spiritually manifested journey? Of course I know the reality of being happy for my friends and that a lottery system is generated by a computer, but that doesn't change the dreams I had and the feelings I awoke with this morning.
Of course I have the chance to purchase tickets on Friday which is quite the several hour commitment of sheer luck and manifestation. But at what expense? I don't want to feel jealousy of the friends I want to dance with for the first time not as strangers to the band we all love. Is that what it means to see Phish now? And how will the difficulties to get tickets affect the experience? If it is so corporate, can it still be organic? How dark is the scene going to be? How many people still remember the magic and how many want to force it? Does my not getting tickets when so many others have mean I am not meant to go? Does that mean I am in for another shift in my life? These are the questions Phish raises and I know I am far from alone in these thoughts. And once again, you may not be able to grasp all of these thoughts, but that doesn't mean that they are not very real for many people. Experiences such as Phish are what we live for - they give pure meaning to our lives.