I did it. I went to the Forest. That magical place that people talk about with galaxies in their eyes. And let me tell ya, I'm a changed woman for it. Now if I'm being completely honest, I was a bit of a skeptic, and almost bailed last minute due to some "real life" stressors, but thanks to two beautiful friends of mine (Brittni and Andrew) I was convinced to go. As I was on my road trip to the forest, I was preparing myself for a fun long weekend with friends my soul has been itching to see. But beyond that I was not expecting anything too special. Well here I am. A changed woman. Telling you that if you've considered going, GO. Jot it down on your bucket list PRONTO.
So what exactly makes this place so special? magical? spiritual? unforgettable? wild? magnetic?
Numero uno. THE CULTURE. Every music festival has it's vibe and expectations, but the Forest is something like I've never experienced. Once you walk in those gates, everyone, and I mean everyone is your friend. There is a universal rule of love and friendship. If you're lost, strangers will offer help, food, phones, and a new crew to hang with until you can find your people. You are treated like a brother or sister on default even if you've never even seen that person before. If you need anything, someone will offer it. Strangers exchange smiles with every step, new friends are met every day, and these friends feel more like family than anything else. All the bullshit in conversation is skipped. No one talks about the weather, or what they're currently watching on Netflix. People talk about their struggles, their life goals, what sets their hearts on fire. It's an invigorating experience to connect with so many people on such a deep level. You feel alive, energized, and shape new perspectives almost immediately. It's food for the soul.
Numero dos. THE FOREST ITSELF. The forest is the place all fairy tales were inspired by. Think Alice in Wonderland meets the perfect summer day. Words truly do no justice. Running through the warm trees you feel like your seven year old self. Magical creatures walk around among you, hidden pianos and sculptures loom around every corner. Flowers, interactive art, and the sound of music follow you with every step. The second you think you've explored every inch of the forest you stumble upon something you never even imagined, let alone have seen before. The stages are so elaborate you feel as if you're approaching a throne rather than a stage. Color is everywhere. There are only two words to describe the forest in its glory: Pure. Magic.
Numero tres. THE PEOPLE. Here is where I get to tell my personal story. Before the forest I was at one of the lowest points in my life ever. The people that I am lucky enough to call my friends, changed my life that weekend at the forest. We cried over our hardships. We shared the pain of losing loved ones. We hugged and laughed as we experienced some of the best moments of our lives together. We were brave enough to show our true selves, get raw with one another, and love each other more for it. We made memories glorious enough for the grandkids. These ARE the glory days. For the first time in what seemed like forever, I felt I was exactly where I needed to be. Every single moment was meaningful. Those people, and that place, made me a better person. I'll be forever grateful for that weekend in the forest. To my forest family, thank you. I arrived knowing I had lifelong friends waiting for me, and I've left with a handful more. You all have a special place in my heart.
So yes, the Forest really is all it's cracked up to be. It's more than a music festival where hippies gather and people get fudged up. Write it down on your bucket list, gather a group of friends, and start planning for a once in a lifetime experience. You won't regret it.