Ah, birthdays. A time reserved for a multitude of things: Of celebration and reflection, of thoughts that flicker from party planning to our own mortality, of reminiscing past birthdays and what's been achieved since, of what we hope to do before the next year's candles are blown out. Then there's the search for the signs of aging. When you're younger, maybe it's the excitement of having grown another foot taller or losing your baby teeth. But in your 30's, the introspection is more like, "Wait, has that moved lower? A wrinkle!"
Yep, I see things in black and white now, look at my hair. Basically, it's the birthday blues. Amid expectations, time is ticking and there's still a party that needs to be planned.
Which is why I was surprised to blink and find that it was mid year. 2016 has sped by so quickly that I didn't even realise my birthday was coming up. This is unusual — because I love getting my favourite people together in one place and blues or not, birthdays are such a good excuse for that. I found that not only did I not have a celebration planned, I had no interest in working too hard on one. But all was not lost — I remembered that two months before, I had scrolled my Facebook feed and seen that the next Lost In A Moment (LIAM) was being held in a castle in Tuscany and coincidently, on my birthday, 24 July. Surely it had to be a sign?
I've wanted to attend a LIAM event since the first was held in Barcelona in 2012. An offshoot of one of my favourite music labels, Innervisions — whose co-founder Dixon is a a dear friend from my Zouk days — I knew the event series would have the same attention to detail as their quality music releases and DJ gigs.
In an era of mega dance festivals, I appreciate their ethos of keeping things intimate and focused on the music, each in a new outdoor location unmapped by the electronic music community. It's also never held in the same location twice. The fact that it takes place on a Sunday afternoon — breaking the tradition that the best parties have to be afterhours — at the expense of sleep and the lost morning after is a welcome change.
Since LIAM doesn't typically accept press coverage, does minimal promotion and doesn't allow photos and videos at its events, it's hard to find information about it online, making me that much more curious to attend. I couldn't help but feel that being "lost in a moment" sounded like the perfect way to fast track a celebration plan and get over the birthday blues in one. A few phone calls to some close friends later and the decision was made — we were going!
Summer in Europe is always beautiful if not a little overcrowded. The good thing about LIAM is that it limits the number of attendees according to each of its breathtaking locations, be it a fort, an island or in this case, in the field surrounding Castle Calcione where the stage was set. It definitely felt like an exclusive gathering for house music fans — all of 2,000 people — dancing in the sunshine, enveloped by the warm rays and sounds coming from the DJs and sizeable Void sound system. Starting off with Hunter/Game, then Sandrino, Dixon and Kink, we were just getting geared up for Dixon to make a return to the stage when the skies thundered and ended the night early — 10pm to be precise. Yep, not how we expected it to end, but memorable for sure. As the series advocates, all things are ephemeral — once the moment is lost, it cannot be repeated. No selfie or video will bring it back...much like each birthday's passing.
If you have a birthday coming up and are feeling melancholic at the prospect of turning another year older, here are some of the ruminations that helped me:
1. Carpe Diem the hell out of life
Thinking about mortality and taking stock of life are the best reminders to not drift passively but actively grab life by the horns. The truth is, we don't have a lot of time on this Earth so the best thing we can do is savour it by living deeply, fully and well.
2. Make it special
It's the day you chose to enter the planet and become part of your family. Even if you're not the sort to party, you can spend it doing something you love. Forget the expectations of what others can do for you and take responsibility for your own happiness. Making it memorable is just the positive reinforcement you need should birthday blues roll around next year.
3. It's the experiences that make us rich
Celebrate how far you've come and all the experiences that got you there. You did it! There's no one to compare with as there's only one you, and you do you best. When tell-tale signs of aging appear, see them for what they are: Signs of a life well-lived and wisdom gained. In Ralph Waldo Emerson's words, "The years teach much which the days never knew".
4. When in doubt, take a holiday
If you're not sure how to celebrate or the blues have got you bad, take a holiday somewhere, even if it's a staycation. Holidays are a great way to get space from the everyday humdrum, from the routine that can make us insensitive to nature's inherent beauty. Take a rest from the things that constantly occupy our minds and allow new places, people and experiences to shift our perspective.
"Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many", someone once said. We're so lucky. No matter where we are in life, whatever expectations were or weren't met, we made it to another year and still have tomorrow to continue being the best version of ourselves.