This past September, I went to an amazing music festival in Asbury Park: The Sea, Hear, Now Festival. I reveled in two longs days with some old and new favorite musicians - Ben Harper, G. Love and Special Sauce, Longhorne Slim, The Original Wailers, English Beat, Blondie, and many more. I was in heaven! Dancing on the beach, warmed by the radiant sun, cooled by the late summer breeze, stirred-up by the sultry moon, and soaking up the energy of an enthusiastic crowd.
While I loved the full line-up, my true heart-pull was headliner Jack Johnson.
There were three stages at the venue and two of them were right on the beach, about a football field's distance between them. Bands played on alternating hours between these two stages. The crowd moved together from stage to stage to catch each new show.
We were three hours from the festival’s grand finale and I was pretty obsessed with scoring a good spot to see Jack Johnson. I wanted this bad. So, my friends and I devised a plan: while everyone went to Stage B to see Social Distortion at 8 pm, we'd skip it and instead weave our way up towards the front for Stage A, where Jack would be performing at 9 pm.
Sure, other people had the same idea, but we were able to get about 15 rows from front center. We found a small clearing there and took a seat in the sand for our hour-long wait. I was psyched! Even sitting in the middle of a thick crowd, which is not my thing at all, I was able to focus on my teenage-like excitement to see Jack Johnson for the first time.
Finally, he came out and I was in heaven! There I was, on the beach, under the moon, surf crashing in the distance, dancing like no one was watching. It was beyond perfect. It was magical.
I floated home from the concert, undisturbed by the heavy shore traffic. I was not even exhausted from two full days of festival going. I went to bed smiling. I woke up still radiating.
And then it happened.
I opened my computer for my morning check-in and lost my breath.
The Sea Hear Now Festival had made big news! As it turns out, while I was securing the perfect spot for Jack Johnson, behind my back, just one football field away from me, Bruce Springsteen made a surprise appearance and played several songs with Social Distortion.
I was, literally, yards away from Bruce Springsteen, on the beach, in his home of Asbury Park! (Remember, I am a Jersey Girl!) I was RIGHT THERE. All I had to do was turn my head! But I was so focused and present where I was that I missed it. Completely and totally missed it.
And then, I remembered…
I loved my evening.
I actually did have the most perfect night, just as it was.
Nothing can change that, except me.
And as quick as my disappointment came, I let it go.
For the past 12 hours, I had been glowing in the joy of the experience I did have. Nothing changed about my experience. Of course, I would have been thrilled to see Bruce too. But the truth is, at 5’ 1”, I most likely would have gotten buried in the clamoring crowd for either or both shows.
Most often, it is easier to stay focused on our disappointment, on what we missed or what we might miss. What we could have had, what we could have done. What we should have, or should be doing. You know: that whole FOMO thing -- Fear of Missing Out. Or FOBO -- Fear of a Better Option. All day long, we mentally pull ourselves out of the present, away from where we are. It's exhausting and joy robbing to be somewhere other than were we actually are. It's also depleting to try to do it all; it lowers the quality of everything we are squeezing in.
So, instead of sliding into disappointment for missing Bruce, I choose joy; the Joy of Missing Bruce and Seeing Jack. Also known as JOMO. The Joy of Missing Out.
While FOMO pulls us to constantly 'scroll' for more options in search of what we could be doing, what may be better, what we shouldn't miss out on, JOMO is about letting go of the need to do everything and embracing the life that is right in front of us more fully. JOMO is relaxing the urge to constantly seek a better experience. It allows us to be where we are more completely, rather than racing around in search of feeling more complete.
Through a yoga and meditation practice, we can learn to allow ourselves to come back into our bodies and bring our minds into the present moment. This sets the conditions to experience more joy in our lives. Or, at the very least, we won't deplete ourselves racing around trying to find the joy that is most likely available right in the moment we are actually in.