“Just because sandcastles are ephemeral and doomed to be washed away, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t build them, for they are still beautiful and fun to build. Life itself is not very different.”
The caveat of growing older, is understanding that as cyclical as we might imagine life to be – life also comes with an expiration date. For as superhuman as we can feel, we’re also exceptionally fragile, like a basket of fresh egg on a Spring day,a newborn baby seeing the world with fresh eyes and your great grandmother’s China that you only use for special occasions. As much as we prance, pounce and push our way to the top of our own proverbial mountain, it’s often in disregard that the quality of our time on this wonderful planet is also quantifiable. Life is the synthesis of years, months, weeks, hours, seconds, and fleeting moments that have the weight of the world on their shoulders; and yet, it can be taken away all too soon. The irony of maturing is recognizing that the beauty around you, as minute or magnanimous at it stands, is ephemeral.
This year especially has been an emotional rollercoaster of losses for the Entertainment community. More often than not, what I’ve found is that while mourning comes from the best of intentions, it eventually becomes a self serving reminder of our own mortality and accomplishments – or, usually, the lack thereof. But this weekend, the dance community was shattered by the unfortunate passing of a man known for making the most of the moment, finding beauty in breakdowns and providing an uplifting reprieve from the world we live in.
Sunday of my first Lightning in a Bottle, my dancing feet were failing me and all I wanted to do after three days at kittens first camping festival was take a serious snooze on the lush green grass. As we sat near the Woogie, collecting our final marbles and exchanging hearty laughs, a slow beat started moving my whole body and I couldn’t help but bop in place to the infectious intonations. Donned in pastel technicolor parasols and androgynously amazing apparel, what started as a sleepy morning manifested into a musical menagerie and what felt like the soundtrack of my life. Eclectic and electric, I marinated into a moment that I never wanted to leave as Pumpkin delivered feel good hit after feel good hit.
It was music that transported us across generations and genres, initiating an evolution from unique, individual snowflakes into a haphazard but uniform snowstorm of happiness. A warmth filled my body as the music cascaded from expertly mixed oldies to emotionally driven four to the floor beats, from Jackson 5 to Fleetwood Mac, into Feed Me & Crystal Fighters ‘Love is All I Got’. It as only later once I had time to refer to the lineup that I realized that it was Pumpkin, who I’d later revere as a West Coast Festival favorite.
Pumpkin was always an artist that my crew and I vehemently looked forward to, regardless of whatever nonsensical residual feelings echoed in the background – he brought us together. Whether we were mainstage waiting for the next act or blissfully taking in the sunshowers from every direction, Pumpkin had a smile and a song for all of us. From Sea of Dreams and Shambhala, to Lightning in a Bottle and Woogie Weekend – the one common denominator was how much the community was looking forward to his set.
One of those few individuals that was more than the sum of his parts, Pumpkin was more than a man and his music, he was a movement – a love train where he was the conductor, a sunshine soaked cruise with Pumpkin proudly at the helm; Pumpkin was a pastor, preaching love, kindness, happiness and warmth at every chance he could. Pumpkin was a humanist, believing the best in the world around him and instilling the world with an effervescent heartbeat that will unequivocally live on. His passing is more than a tragedy, it’s a communal travesty – a man revered for distilling vast amounts of happiness, he will be sorely missed. Pumpkin’s musical legacy will live in pride on the dance floor even though his heartbeat is missing from the soundtrack of our lives
There’s no way around it, it’s sad….I’m sad, what’s forever missing from our community is sad….but it doesn’t have to be. Dance with joy and hug with love, be one with the world and don’t let one second go that you don’t exclaim to yourself, the world and the people you share it with how much you love them.
In memorial, friends of Pumpkin have set up a GoFundMe to provide for his family in this trying time, any little bit helps – and is a small price to personally pay for the amazing legacy that he’s left.
“Initial funds will go towards memorial costs and all the rest will be put towards some sort of charity involving music and children, to be specified by Nick’s family. As time goes on it’s our hope that Nick can continue to support the charity of their choosing, as we’re sure his big heart would have wanted.”