So, the Days of New experiment has reached a successful end, but thankfully the changes in my behavior seem to still be continuing on as the Summer of 2015 really begins. One of the key behavior changes I noticed when I was doing that experiment was that over time, I became much more interested in what was happening around me. This including everything from finding new groupon/livingsocial deals, discovering new parks to go to, and visiting new restaurants I had never noticed. As I struggled to keep up with each rapidly arriving day’s demand for a new activity, I found myself seeing the world around me differently. It also meant that a lot of the ideas that my brain had categorized into the “Someday” category were being brought up to the forefront of my awareness. With Days of New, Someday was Today.
So when I read online about a Chicago Full Moon Fire Jam in a few days, something in the “Someday” part of my brain was suddenly activated. I had known about this event for at least a year… possibly two years. It is an event that takes place in the city of Chicago during the summers every full moon. Basically a lot of people gather to watch performers dance and spin with fire. The whole thing started informally years ago for somebody’s birthday, and it has gradually increased in size and popularity.
When I first heard of this, over a year ago, it immediately sounded awesome. I’ve been to a lot of music festivals, and watching people play with fire there has always fascinated me. Besides the fact that I thoroughly enjoy watching people risk their well being for my entertainment, fire in general has always been beautiful and mesmerizing to me. People who could dance with fire were even more amazing. I would sit at music festivals and watch the fire dancers with awe. Not only is it incredible to see fire moving through the air as an art and dance, but there is always that slight danger in the back of my mind, the awareness that these people are literally playing with fire!
So of course I was excited when I first heard of the Chicago Full Moon Fire Jams. Why wouldn’t I want to see a bunch of people spin fire? But these usually occur on weeknights, and driving into the city has always been a huge pain for me. There is endless traffic, confusing navigation, and the total nightmare of finding parking. Not to mention having to do all that on a weeknight. But I still loved the idea and so “Chicago Full Moon Fire Jam” got safely tucked away into the “Someday” category of my brain.
I am still pretty fresh off “40 Days of New” though, and so when I saw a mention of the upcoming fire jam in a few days, I smiled and, as usual, sent it to the “Someday” category of my brain. But this time it instead got forwarded to the “NOW!!!!!” section of my consciousness. Why the heck not?? It is the very start of summer. I’ve wanted to see this for years. There is so much happening in the world around me, and I want to throw myself into my surroundings and experience as much as possible. Yes, it would require me driving into the city late on a weeknight. Yes, I would probably be tired from work, and be even more tired the next day. Yes, I already had a full schedule and had no idea how I could possibly fit it into my week. But suddenly none of that mattered. Because the something Days of New taught me was how important it is to ignore the post-workday exhaustion and go experience life.
Even on the drive to the city that Tuesday evening, I was still stunned that after all this time I was finally going to this event. To be honest, even though I repeatedly filed it in “Someday” corner of my mind, I always knew and accepted that it would be one of those things that I would never actually manage to experience. Even meeting my friends in the city for simple social events is a huge ordeal that I try to avoid. I didn’t dare try to convince any friends to go to this event because I wanted to keep myself open for the high likelihood of me succumbing to post-workday exhaustion and bailing out last minute. But suddenly there I was on an early Tuesday evening, navigating my car through the maze of inattentive pedestrians and towering skyscrapers that is the windy city of Chicago.
My biggest concern was where to park, which is always a reasonable concern for the city, and I was relieved when I arrived at Montrose Bay and immediately found parking. In fact, I probably parked much further away than I needed to. I had been so happy to find parking that I jumped at the first spot that I could. That is ok though. It was beautiful out, so I grabbed a sweatshirt for after sunset and began to walk along the lake as I looked for the Fire Jam.
I had only been out of my car two minutes when I heard somebody call my name. I looked over to see a girl that had been in my camping group just two weeks earlier at a music festival. I had never seen her outside that festival, and so it was a really awesome surprise for us to both run into each other here at the most random of places. I love when little synchronicities like that happen. It makes me believe that I am in the exact place I’m supposed to be.
I wandered on for a while but couldn’t find the event at all. The sun was winking away on the edge of the horizon by now, and I felt like crowds of people and swirling fire shouldn’t be hard to miss. Yet the Fire Jam eluded me. Eventually I saw a group of young adults with hula hoops and blankets and knew immediately that they were headed to the same place, so I talked to them and they led me on in the right direction. Turns out the Fire Jam was a lot further than I had realized, and I would have been walking around in circles for a while had I not asked them.
I knew we were nearing the event when I heard the beating of the drums. As we got closer, the drums got louder and louder, and then there was suddenly a huge crowd of at least a thousand people. There were people standing and talking, people sitting on blankets and folding chairs, people dancing and hooping, all surrounding a roped off clearing in the center of the crowd. The group who had led me here dissolved into the crowd, and as the last of the sunlight melted away, I wandered through the hoards of people, absorbing the high and excited energy of the environment. There was a huge drum circle to the north end of the clearing. There were people selling glow toys to play with. I knew I had a couple friends from the city coming to this event, and I texted them.
Next thing I knew, it was dark and the performers were filling the roped off open clearing in the center of the crowd. People announced some rules, including no flash photography safety request (a rule that plenty of the people in the audience opted to ignore), and it began. The sun was gone. The crowd was bustling and energetic. The drum circle was beating loud, fast, and powerfully. And the many dancers in the clearing in the middle were dissolving in the swirling streams of fire that lit up the night. There were many different fire props. Fire on hula hoops. Fire poi. Fire on staffs. There were even performers who were spitting clouds of fire into the sky! These performers were fantastic, graceful, and daring as they danced to the relentless beat of the nearby drum circle. And shining bright above the trees in the distance, and the beach further off, the magnificent full moon was looming huge in the sky. I was mesmerized for hours. The beat of the drums, the grace of the dancers, and the swirling of the fire put me in a wonderful sort of trance as I truly experienced this summer night in the city of Chicago. Eventually my friends texted me back, but I decided it was too dark to try to find them in this large crowd.
At last I realized that the show was almost over. It was cold now for a June night, and I was tired. I still had a long drive home, and so I left about ten minutes early so I wouldn’t have to maneuver my way through the large crowds of dispersing people. The night was a wonderful little adventure, and as I drove back home through the maze of skyscrapers, I reflected on how glad I was that I chose “Now!!!” instead of “Someday” for the Chicago Full Moon Fire Jam. Who knows, maybe I’ll even go to another one this summer! I think July has two full moons!!