Have you ever had an out of body experience? Where you are pulsing with energy and your life just doesn’t feel real; almost as if you are hovering above yourself witnessing something too complex for the human mind to process? I have. In fact, it was so profound that it has taken me weeks to put pen to paper–errr, finger to keyboard.
I’m talking about Mardi Gras.
Yes, you read that right. Mardi Gras was a profound experience for me and DEFINITELY not one I expected. All I set out for was a girls weekend of guilt free debauchery, and I left with a pocket full of wisdom and a suitcase full of beads.
This was a girls weekend that was planned a year in advance- organized by one of my favorite girlfriends. She has a joyful spirit and spontaneity about life that is infectious. Truth be told she’s one of my favorite people in the world because she makes me feel alive when I am around her. She lived in New Orleans for several years, and is the only person who could make my true Texan blood crave a N’awlins address.
From the minute we arrived, the city felt electric. You know that feeling in a stadium when the music starts blaring as the team runs out and it feels as if everyone in the stands is bouncing in excited unison? It was palpable.
The first thing the Uber driver said to us was, “I need to hurry and go see my son walk in tonight’s parade- I count down the days until Mardi Gras, it’s better than Christmas for our family. We live for it.” He was smiling ear to ear and it brought an immediate feeling of joy to me to see this man revel in the Mardi Gras spirit. There was a sparkle in his eye that was full of truth- a sparkle I couldn’t quite forget.
As I sat back in the Uber, pulling out my phone to check work emails, I pondered do I take myself too seriously? Do I not have enough fun? There is a true importance in stopping to recognize that life should be celebrated and embraced- are we underestimating JOY? At that moment, I tucked my phone back into my bag and said f’ it. I’m here to experience life in a way I never have before- I wanted to see what that sparkle was about. I vowed to myself to let go of my phone so that I could have two free hands (well maybe just one free hand…one hand is for hurricanes) and a completely free spirit.
I know the Mardi Gras reputation can weigh heavily on overly gluttonous drunkards all parading down Bourbon street wreaking havoc on the city- but to be honest, I have never witnessed such authentic joy. People could walk down the street naked, at any size, with glitter pasties and be celebrated- not mocked. People of all shapes and sizes stand shoulder to shoulder in the name a of a good time. People from all different walks of life come together to celebrate more than just Mardi Gras- they come to celebrate freedom. Freedom to be whoever the hell you want to be, to let your true freak flag fly, and to find a little youth and rebellion at any age.
The spirit of the city was so intoxicating that I found myself totally comfortable dressed as Princess Leia throwing beads off a float. In fact when we got back to the hotel that night I almost crapped my pants when I looked in the mirror and remembered what I left the hotel wearing…I will say some of that is due to alcohol, but most of it is attributed to being in a place of acceptance of all absurdities.
At the end of the trip, I had learned a huge lesson about acceptance. I even had to accept that I was now 5 lbs heavier and would have a headache for days- but I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. I saw the true beauty in humanity, I saw the fire that lit a spark in our drivers eye. Pulling back from all the negative connotations I had about the chaos of Mardi Gras, I was able to open my eyes to what was going on between all the tatas, costumes and public drunkenness. I was able to see people celebrating each other for being exactly who they are in that moment. Allowing myself to let go and live in the moment with my friends- laughing, being overly indulgent, and even doing downward facing dog in public (clearly I was overserved), is something I will cherish for a lifetime. I’ve already found myself trying to find ways to bring a little Mardi Gras spirit to my life here in Houston and I’m even saying ‘Dah’lin’ a little more too.