Introducing the Life is a Festival Podcast
“Life is a festival, only to the wise.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is Eamon Armstrong, your host of the Life is a Festival Podcast. Join me for a series of conversations exploring our collective wisdom to inspire a bold courage for life.
My personal adventure in blossoming was galvanized when I first attended Burning Man in 2010. Prior to my pilgrimage to the desert I had made some tentative stops towards revealing and understanding the ceaseless growth of my dynamic potential self. I had a funky dance band in San Francisco called i can dress myself and I experimented with costumes and silliness at our Haight Street mushroom tea parties. But it was Burning man that really showed me a model for liberation. This self-expression I witnessed there wasn’t about creating an identity for external validation. It was self-expression for spontaneous play and discovery. It was about loosening stilted roles, particularly around gender. I saw men in flowing robes clutching floppy brunch hats least they be carried away in a high desert wind. They were unapologetic for their transgressiveness. In fact they seemed to transcend entirely the label of cool I had been seeking for a decade. Indeed cool, is an oppositional construction and requires the denigration of the ûncool. But these satyrs of the dust were not defined by negation. In fact they seemed completely undefined, permissive, inviting. They had far surpassed cool; they had become fabulous. I returned from the Black Rock Desert convinced I would never be afraid again.
But like a glimpse of enlightenment by a Dōgen lama, my brief moment of liberation was the spark of an adventure, not its peak. Ahead lay a long journey of self inquiry and my odyssey would require many lonesome passages, peppered with exquisite isles of festivals, ceremonies and initiations. The impending archipelago would include experimentation with psychedelics, yoga, sexuality and service. It didn’t turn out to be a homecoming to a fixed self but rather an ever expanding horizon of meeting an edge and moving beyond it. Along the way I learned that we are infinite beings possessing myriad potential and we are limited only but the beliefs that keep us small, however compelling they may be.
So after throwing parties and building communities first for my band and later for Burning Man and San Francisco street fairs, I was plucked out of obscurity by the wizard businessman Chip Conley and the adventurer Art Gimbel as Community Manager for their online guide to the world’s best festivals, Fest300. My humble role serving the global festival movement evolved into Creative Director and the public face of our cultural magazine. I was offered the enormous privilege of traveling the world, writing about the best events and creating many magical friendships.
Around this time I sat in a ceremony and saw an elaborate vision of lush, ornate gardens blossoming around the globe. Each lavish oasis possessed its own unique flora; the dusty red earth of the Outback, steaming Mayan cenotes, the old growth forests of central Europe, immaculate lawns of English estates. In my vision I saw them grow in rapid evolutionary leaps, almost like a single massive oozing organism. These gardens were the world’s great festivals and I was a bee, cross-pollinating around the world, myself evolving with each speck of pollan affixed to my thorax. The loving gardeners became my friends and shared with me the secrets of their cultivations.
A year ago I left my job at the website. It had been sold, as business often are and I set out to travel the world on my own exploration. I did a vipassana, 10 days of silently observing my mind. I played Holi, the game of colors in the ancient city of Varanasi, I gave talks on healing masculinity in Australia, I became a yin yoga teacher in Bali and I studied with a transgender Taoist master on the erotic basis of being. My adventure culminated in a Rite of Passage with the Bwiti in Gabon, a ten day initiation with iboga, the Mount Everest of shamanic ordeals.
On the journey I realized that my life had indeed become a festival. All the openness, ceasely growth and serendipitous convergence of festival life was threaded through my everyday experience. As my childish self-absorption evolved, transformation became a path of service.
“Life is a festival, only to the wise,” the transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson famously wrote. I want to share the wisdom that helped me create a life more fabulous. Once more I will take on the role of the bumblebee, or better yet, a bimblebee (“bimble” is a British term which means to wander aimlessly around a festival with no purpose other than spontaneous chats). I will invite the brilliant gardeners to share their secrets.
This podcast will go far beyond festival culture as we know it. Remember the transgender Taoist master? Zhenzan Dao has offered to share her mythopoetic prescription for pornography addiction and the betrayal of the true yang. I’ll even have my old mentor Chip come by and show us his impeccable guide to leadership. On this journey we will dive ever deeper into radical wellness, the essence of desire, and entheogenic dreams. Everywhere we find an edge to our collective growth we will invite a master to sit with us and elucidate the way forward.
The next epic adventure calls, and this time I would love for you to join me.