Looking out into the bay

In my last article, I mentioned that I had been on Cortes Island this past weekend at an outdoor festival/party sort of thing. I had talked about how great my skin seems to be after a weekend away with friends… but that’s not the only interesting thing that happened to me this weekend.

Let Me Paint a Picture For You

This gathering is set in an incredibly beautiful wilderness location. The party happens on either side of a meeting point of land…. on one side lies a glorious, deep, ocean bay dotted with small islands at its mouth, and the other side, a warm, idyllic lagoon.

Between the bay and the lagoon runs a short, narrow channel with a bridge that we cross over as we go between the music stage and our tents. When the tide is coming in, the water rushes quickly into the lagoon, and when the tide goes out, it reverses direction and the water rushes out into the bay.

The Party Is Also Amazing

The party itself is amazing as well. A group of DJs from the island have been organizing this free shindig for 15 years, just for the love of the location and the music. The atmosphere is amazing at one of these parties – it’s honestly life changing. I’ve never experienced so much love and kinship and enjoyment of each other and nature and life. This isn’t the type of party with a bunch of drunk idiots – you rarely, if ever, find anyone beating each other up like you see at bars and other parties. It’s all just love and dancing and good times.

This party and others like it that I’ve been going to on the islands around my hometown for the past five years or so are incredibly special to me – and it’s obvious that they are incredibly special to many others as well.

Unfortunately when it comes to partying in such wildly beautiful places, hazards do exist. The landscape is rocky and rough and it’s easy to hurt yourself.

On Saturday morning, we noticed there were RCMP officers (ie. the cops) roaming around the party. They weren’t bugging anyone, and you do often see cops checking things out at these kinds of gatherings, so I didn’t think anything of it. Later, a huge search and rescue chopper zoomed over head, back and forth, back and forth, across the lagoon. I didn’t have a clue what was going on, so I just went about my business.

The floating stage making its way through the lagoon

We put on our bathing suits and made our way down to the far end of the lagoon where everyone was gathering for a midday dance sesh in the sunshine. They had actually put together a floating stage (well… just some music equipment on a flat barge-like oyster skiff), and had docked by the rocks.

It was hot and beautiful; everyone was playing in the water or grooving on the rocks to the beats. You could just tell – life was being lived to the fullest at that moment by many, many people, and it was absolutely glorious.

But A Sad Announcement Was Made…

The search and rescue chopper zoomed over head one last time, and Ben, the one DJing on the stage and the main organizer of the party, cuts the music and he says:

“Hey! You guys – listen up. I don’t know if you guys know this yet – if you know what the choppers are all about – but someone has died here this weekend. They’re pulling his body out of the lagoon right now”

Immediately there is a collective “Ohh” with a downward inflection. What a mood ruiner. Sadly, this isn’t the first time this has happened at one of these outdoor parties. The natural beauty of these locations and the wild beauty of the ocean is needed to make it as special as it is, but it’s also what makes it so treacherous.

Ben continued on: “It happened last night. He was in his 50s, and he fell off a boat in the bay and got swept through the lagoon as the water was rushing in. We believed he died as he passed through it. We don’t know the circumstances… maybe he was drunk… and he was probably confused as he died and passed through…. but I’ve been told this man may have been suffering from cancer…. and if that is so – what a way to go here in this incredible, beautiful, special place”

“I want you guys to look after each other today. No fuck ups tonight! I mean it. It’s unfortunate this man has died. But remember – LIFE IS FLEETING! It’s so precious so start living it right now…”

He cut the whirring generator and we had a moment of silence. After, he slowly turned the music back on and we began to live and love and dance again in the honour of the man who no longer with us.

I must admit – it was a completely surreal experience.

I Saw A Man With a Scarred Face

Afterward, as I was sitting on the rocks in the sun, I saw a beautiful boy with blond dreadlocks like my own. He was a distance away and as I looked in his direction, I thought I saw him look at me with a face of something like confusion and surprise – like he was carefully processing something.

Later he sat down to talk to a group of people near to me – he was closer this time and I saw that he was suffering from a terrible skin condition. He had severe acne across his cheeks as well as awful scarring.

There, of course, was no real way for me to know for sure how this man was feeling, and I suppose I’m being presumptuous, but I do believe that anyone with a severe skin condition must feel a lot of pain in their heart. I felt that day like I could feel his pain through the air.

I began to wonder if perhaps his look of confusion had actually been recognition. Did he recognize me from my blog? Could that be possible? That in itself felt surreal – but not far fetched. The internet is an easy place for those to turn when they need answers and support. It’s very possible he could have come across me in his search for salvation.

I didn’t really know what to do, so I left it at that. I wanted to give him a hug, tell him everything would be okay. But I didn’t. I didn’t know if it would be welcome.

This Man Did Not Hide Away

One thing I was so happy for was that this man was even there. He was there, with his friends – living. He had come. He had not hidden away.

Later I sat by the narrow channel and watched the water rushing into the lagoon as the words that Ben yelled echoed in my head. Life is fleeting – it’s precious. In that moment, a few pimples felt so trivial and silly. What are we doing with our short time on this planet?!?

Spots mean nothing except what significance we give them. They are powerless unless we give them power – let’s forget about them and begin to truly live before it’s too late.