I sit writing this entry on the 30th anniversary of the release of U2’s Joshua Tree. I was 12. So many of the amazing songs on this album that grabbed me. Some spoke directly to me. The lyrics “still haven’t found what I’m looking for” struck home to a generation searching for identity, the timeless plight of the adolescent. Who didn’t want to disappear to “where the streets have no name”?
There was something about the name “Joshua Tree” that resonated, more than I thought it should have at the time. Perhaps it’s due to all the religious symbolism throughout the album and my early Catholic upbringing that had abruptly ended in lockstep with my parent’s marriage. I recall at one point having a vivid and unmistakable moment of realization, like someone hitting a gong. “If I can make it to Joshua Tree, maybe I’ll find what I’m looking for”. Of course I had no idea what that was. Yet the thought lingered. Joshua Tree was calling to me.
Flash forward to High school. After the most vivid dream of my life, I awoke with a vision of a place I had never been and never seen. I didn’t visit this place in my dream, but rather viewed it through an old keyhole. It moved me to such a point that I went to school and painted the vision on a large canvas. I am not a painter, yet this painting looked beautiful and even won a couple local awards.
In 2014, I was preparing for my first Sat Nam Fest, my first trip to Joshua Tree. That lingering notion from my youth remained. I knew something profound awaited me there “beneath the desert sky.” Weeks before leaving, I began having the dream of the alien landscape once again. “This place, high on desert plain, where the streets have no name.” I couldn’t shake it. Three days in a row, I awoke with that vision seen through the same keyhole, burned into the backs of my eyelids. I sat down and drew it just like I had painted it 20 years before. I then called my tattoo artist and made an appointment.
Arriving on site for Sat Nam Fest, I looked out from a rise over the grounds spread before me and saw “the face of fear runnin’ scared in the valley below.” My head swam, my knees trembled, and my stomach flipped. This was the “alien” landscape from my dreams, from my visions. I had come to the desert. I had made it to Joshua Tree, and it served as such affirmation that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, in God’s country.”
I still didn’t know what I was looking for, but it appeared we had found each other. It would be difficult to describe the depth to which my life has been changed since first stepping foot on the festival grounds without producing volumes. Plainly put, my life has both literally and figuratively saved. I “felt the healing, healing, healing, healing hands of love. Like the stars shiny, shiny from above.”
Next month will be my fourth trip to Joshua Tree with my new spiritual family – the kundalini yoga community, Spirit Voyage, Sat Nam Fest. Everything about the experience feels like coming home. Coming home to your family and friends, as well as coming home to yourself. Your natural state is bliss.
Our intended purpose is to love, lift, and learn. It’s for us to seek that which is worth finding. Sometimes, as in my situation, all we have to do is listen to that voice that leads us to the place where we can find what we’re all looking for, whatever that may be — and sometimes that voice belongs to Bono.
I hope to meet all of you next month, I’ll be there “with or without you.”