As a DJ who throws epic dance parties all over the country, one might say that I’m in the business of happiness. I spend a lot of time talking about blissing out on the dance floor, getting high on life (and music), and finding your inner badass in the beat.
Recently, someone approached me after an especially fun dance and asked, “So are you just happy all the time?”
I burst into laughter. Not only did I find the idea of this alleged state of perma-happiness totally insane, it’s the many (many) moments of marked unhappiness I’ve moved through that have gotten me to where I am today.
The Internet is a weird place. Social media gives us glimpses of perfectly curated moments of seemingly fabulous lives, and our brains naturally fill in the gaps with more of the same. We turn these momentary slices of fleeting happiness into a solid image of what we imagine these lives look like all the time.
And since I usually get real excited about sharing the music and art I make with my audience, and my Instagram feed is a continuous scroll of my giddy face, I can understand why one might imagine that I’m "happy all the time."
But actually being happy all the time? That’d be boring as shit.
The things I make — art, music, events, articles, killer smoothies — wouldn’t get made if I wasn’t consistently propelled forward by a blessed unrest and extreme nostalgia for the indivisible divine consciousness we all came from.
We signed up for life here on planet Earth so we could explore all the ups and downs of existence. There would be no joy without sorrow, no bliss without blah, and no deeply felt understanding of love without the direct knowledge of fear.
There's a small part of us that recalls that primordial state of oneness, and continues to long for it. This can be a source of suffering (unhappiness) or inspiration (happiness), depending on how we frame it. If we allow our deepest yearnings to go unchecked, we may seek transcendence in substances and addictive behaviors for an inevitably temporary kick. But when we make our unconscious longings conscious, we can channel them into our creative work.
And for those times we do get sucked into our own suffering (because we’ve all been there and will inevitably find our way back again), we can rest assured that it is by experiencing and understanding what we are not that we come into conscious contact with what we truly are.
As we do the work to free ourselves from the prison of our own unique conditioning, we find that the lessons we learn along the way are the exact gifts we’re here to give this world.
Think about the things you like about yourself and your work. Now, look back on your life, and see if those things don’t bear a direct correlation to some of the most difficult moments you’ve overcome.
Superman’s home planet blew up. Captain America was a handicapped polio survivor. The Fantastic Four became superheros after being attacked by mysterious cosmic rays and surviving a spaceship crash.
These stories speak to us because they reflect our own origin stories. Not only are we never separate from the dirt we grew from — that same dirt is what continues to grow us. The hard stuff doesn’t end once we discover our inner superhero. There’s never a moment where we’re supposed to finally “get it.” We came here to learn. To be broken down and build ourselves up truer every time. Once we can truly understand this, we can better serve others.
My suffering is the reason I’m good at what I do.
I wouldn’t be certain that people would drink up the medicine of music and movement like water in the desert if it hadn’t saved my own ass ten thousand times.
I create the best art when I’ve got some grit in my palette. The key is the discipline to take the raw material of my life and turn it into something beautiful.
Do you think you should be happy all the time?
When shit comes up, do you push it away? Or do you dive in fully, knowing that this might just be the gateway to your next big leap?
My goal is not happiness. My goal is freedom. The freedom to be an honest response to what’s real, and then make magic out of it. To live my art. To be wild. To dance my truest dance.
Now you dance yours.
Here's a recent set recorded live at Wanderlust Squaw Valley that'll take you from the deepest depths to the highest highs. Wherever you're at, give it a spin and get your creative groove on.
Cover photo courtesy of Neil Ghandi