OVER THE WEEKEND, lying under the stars with tens of thousands of my closest friends, before one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to, I had an epiphany. The anticipation was almost palpable as we waited for one of the biggest reasons we had all driven hundreds of miles and many hours.
After seeing shows throughout the weekend at Bonnaroo 2015, I thought I knew what my partner, Lori, and I were getting ourselves into. It was a huge event, with about 100,000 attendees. We knew going to Mumford and Sons would require us to show up early to get a good vantage point from which to see them headline the day’s concerts. By the time we showed up at the venue, approximately thirty five minutes prior to the opening guitar riff, it was already packed. We quickly found a spot as close to the front of our section as we could and laid out our blanket to wait for the show to start.
Since we had some time to kill, and it was a beautifully clear sky, I laid back on the blanket and took a moment to appreciate what was happening. That’s when it hit me: I have at least one thing in common with every single person in this audience right now.
It may not seem like such a big deal, but to me, in that moment, it was a revelation. Regardless of the color of their skin, their political views, their intellect or abilities, I was bonded to every single person in the audience by a desire to see this band.
A great many people spend a great deal of time focusing on the things we don’t like about others or how they are different. We use so much energy trying to convert people to seeing things our way, or believing in the things we believe that all we see are differences.
We hear all the time that we have more in common with people than we think, so it would seem that this concept should be fairly simple to grasp. We see examples all the time of the truth in this idea. The differences that are obvious, sometimes make it hard to see the commonalities that aren’t, though.
Bonnaroo really does bring in people from all walks of life. I saw people in all shapes and sizes, colors, tattoo coverage, ages, and any other distinguishing feature a person can think of. It’s not hard to see in a setting like this why it is easy to forget that we have something in common. Walking around the festival grounds, though, there is a sense of togetherness and an understanding that everyone is there to have a good time and listen to some really great music.
Not only did we have something in common with everyone else in the venue before the show, we now have a shared experience in the show, which should make this common bond even stronger.
I would like to close this column with a challenge. The next major event you attend, such as a concert, play, work conference, sporting event, or any number of other things along those lines, find the person who looks the most different from you and strike up a conversation. You already know you have something in common.