Attend Burning Man, check!
Y’all– Burning Man blew my mind. Especially the first two days there – it felt like pure magic. I thought I was going to “attend” a big party in the desert with awesome art and fun costumes and neat people. Really, I ended up participating in a deep, true, primal, powerfully human experience I didn’t even think was possible.
I wrote “attend burning man” on my life list some time ago without knowing that the word “attend” was not quite right. You can’t really “attend” burning man. Attending is passive. You attend a concert. You can’t “attend” Burning Man. You are constantly invited into being burning man–you couldn’t be there passively if you tried. You make eye contact. You smile. You chat. You interact. The spectacle of Burning Man is so amazing because it’s not a spectacle. Everyone is participating. Everyone is present. Everyone is there. Everyone is looking, and everyone is looked at, and that is so powerful. Burning Man isn’t anything other than what everyone there makes it to be. It’s so beautifully participatory, the sense of community is palpable.
The most amazing thing about burning man, I think, is that you can do whatever moves you. You feel like walking around naked because that’s what you want to do to express yourself? You do it. You want to start dancing in the middle of a room because you’re feeling this song but no one else is dancing? You do it. You feel like dressing like the opposite gender, or singing if you’re tone deaf, or throwing an asparagus piss party* or whatever– you just DO it. All the social conventions of our regular lives are stripped away and what’s left is terribly inspiring and real. I think this can be especially freeing for someone like me who gets really worried about and wrapped up in social rules and norms.
I wish I was a talented enough writer or photographer so that I could convey the depth of experience I had out there in the desert. I can’t. It’s too big and varied and there are too many dimentions to get it into words. I will say this: I teared up at least twice a day, not because I was sad, but because I was moved. I was moved by the raw passion I felt while in the middle of a sea of dancing playa-dust-covered people. I was moved by the beautifully sad outpourings of emotion I read in the notes people scribbled on the temple. I was moved by the sheer amount of dedication, ingenuity and creativity in the people that birthed the HUGE scale art that was out on the playa. I was moved by the trueness in peoples’ intentions to just BE there, present, with themselves and with me, in the desert. I know am a particularly emotional being, but I didn’t think I would be so affected by this event.
Big emotional experience aside, I had some awesome interactions out there that I’ll never forget.
For example, I accidentally stumbled upon a dome where I got to both give and receive an eight person massage. Wow, dude. That is crazy amazing feeling.
I got to slide down a two story slide from an art car onto a pillow in the desert under a 50 foot trojan horse burning to the ground (and then got a hug from the guy who built it!)
I got to participate in a wedding that was so full of love it had Michael and me balling our eyes out the whole time.
Michael and I got to see one of our favorite musical artists debut their new music, and danced with them all night. Everyone was so into the music, I kept looking around and feeling their energy and kept getting huge waves of euphoria.
I found a communal bike and I rode it through a real tornado.
I got to participate in a cuddle ocean, and also learned to ride a tandem bike (thanks for both of those experiences, Cupcake!)
I met and got to know so many people from around the bay area and around the world, most of whom I’ll never see again. Which is sad, but also part of the magic. I never would have met those boys from Argentina who stumbled into our camp, or that carptenter from germany who looked like Val Kilmer and chatted with me about language and culture. But this event allowed me to get to know them, and I’ll never forget them.
Also, Michael and I got to celebrate our 1 year anniversary out there and it couldn’t have felt more special.
The list of awesomeness is endless. Did I mention all the hugs I got? There are so many things I learned out there that I want to bring with me back into my daily life here in SF. But my words and my pictures don’t do my experience justice.** But that’s ok. Basically, the experience can be summed up with this: I kept saying to Michael, “I love everyone here so much!” And Michael kept saying to me, “Just look at all this human ingenuity!” I won’t ever forget it, I am so greatful for it, and I can’t wait to go “home” again.
Also, I tried not to carry my camera with me most days so that I could really be present, but I snapped a few anyway. If you want to check out my pictures they are here.*This actually happened and I kinda wish I had gone just so that I could say I went. But also, eww. But also, awesome. **But here are some pictures and a little story that maybe can do a better job than me.