reflections on burning man

re-integration into the default world

ancestors awake!
Day 3 of being back and I’m having a serious come-down with the Burning Man buzz starting to fade… and seeing the awfully rickety way my current world is unfolding. I want to continue with this openness and excitement but the weight of the world and my responsibilities are getting to me. I even had second thoughts last night about some of the pictures I uploaded because they fall outside of the “acceptable” behavior model of a “professional” in the “working world”. Even before Burning Man, I wasn’t thinking much of that and most times not concerning myself too much with how I would be perceived in the business world. But, now, with my company in a tenuous position and the prospect of looking for new work looming, I’m battling myself in how I should be presenting myself to the world. Yet, in Black Rock City, my presentation was always uniquely me and uniquely wonderful, exactly right… accepting by all (radical inclusion). I get down and feel real sad about my second-guessing and self-imposed limitations.


anything is possible
With the Burning Man principles in place and the basics of a city’s infrastructure up and running, I saw the playa as the pure plane of creative mind/intention that allowed the blooming of self-expression in so many ways… from the large monumental structures, to smaller pieces of art, to every person’s own expression in their clothes, movements, speech, activities, connections. I had never been part of a place or time like this… where ideas became manifest in the most beautiful ways.


Returning to the “default world”, I see everything as just bigger, more sophisticated “camps”… complete with running water and central heating (things we didn’t have in Black Rock City). But, instead of a vibrant active community, we have a lot of people who are separated and holed up in their houses. Walking around Blac Rock City, people would wave hi, start conversations, invite people into their space, offer food/drink, etc. Here, I’m lucky if I even get a response to a “Hello” when walking on the trails in our neighborhood.


enter adventure
Black Rock City is exploding with serenedipity! Letting go of a controlled experience, opened up so many fun moments for me:

Sunrise black tea & pancakes with a group of Russian burners… I started talking to a guy who had followed the same geographic progression of life from Texas to Colorado to Oregon and California. I told him of how I have proactively used twitter to make friends in other locales. He said, “that is the first legitimate use of twitter I have heard about”, and we gave each other a high-five.

The midnight mint julip bike ride… after the burning of the horse, I wandered around the esplenade on my bike and happened upon a circus tent with some pretty amazing fire jugglers. I ended up getting a mint julip at the circus bar and started chatting with a guy who happened to be from the east bay. We headed out to wander the playa with drinks in hand, both riding without hands alternately sipping from our drinks, wooting out loud in the open air, marveling at the starfield above… until we ended up at the farthest point on the fenced perimeter along with a handful of others. Turning back towards the city, we were just floored by the size of the city, the desert, the sky, the moment rich with possibility and joy.

view from the inside
The afternoon conversation in the darkness of the interior of the blue crystal mountain… on an afternoon art ride with my comrades Veronica, Simon and Marissa we happened upon a little door within a tall pyramid mountain in my favorite art piece… a frosty cut-out forest filled with fun optical illusions and hidden corners. I snacked on my Burning Man trail mix (salty sesame seeds, dried plaintains, raisins and random granola). We all chatted, relaxed… all of us able to let go and just be. One of my most favorite moments ever.

The giant tripod swing with Danny & Veronica… at on of the intersections close to each of our camps, there was a giant swing built for swinging in large slow arcs. We each took turns swinging and pushing each other and I ended up doing one of many first that week: hanging upside down from legs on the trapeze bar of the swing without freaking out. It may not have seemed like such a big deal from the outside, but I’ve got this control thing going and hanging upside down suspended from my legs is not one of my favorite things to do… nor had I ever done it. But the magic of Burning Man and the openness to try anything and everything made it so easy to just do it. And, wow, yeah, it was fun.

Lots of random water misting on the roads… it seemed like every intersection had a couple of people so happy to be misting folks with water guns as they passed by. I didn’t complain.

infinitely varied creativity
The fabled hot dog stand… on the last day as I was riding in from the playa for the last time, pretty sad and depleted knowing that we’d be heading back that night, I happened upon a hot dog stand. I had heard about it, searched it out, hunted it, but never found it until that last day when I gave up trying to “make” the experience. I had just randomly stopped to help someone untangle a bunch of cord that had wound up in her bike wheel and chain. I was about to call it a day and then, bam! there was this guy with a little cart, some shade and a couple of coolers grilling up hot dogs on his hibachi. He even had mustard and sauerkraut. It was the best hot dog of my life!

playa sunset
Making pancakes for everyone… on the last evening before the temple burn, I wanted to give back to my comrades to show my appreciation for all they had done for me that week. We had already packed up but I left my grill and cooking suppies in the back of the truck. I dropped the gate on the truck bed, set up the grill and went to work with some awesome gluten-free pancakes. Nutella and strawberry jam were contributed and we had an awesome pre-temple burn meal.

The stories could go on & on… and I’ll tell more of them here for sure. And continue to unfold who I became there here in this world.


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