What if I told you to go out to the desert and be as much as yourself as you could possibly be? What if I said in one of the harshest environments on the planet your mind can be most at peace?
I went to Burning Man. This is the view of a virgin and all the wonderment that came with it
Being at Burning Man was difficult at times. It has been difficult for me to write this post because it is hard to encompass such an experience in any form, especially writing. But if you are interested continue to read and I will try my best. As soon as you hear or know of Burning Man and the concept of the movement/event no matter what you already have a preconceived notion as to what it is and what occurs.
I am here to tell you, you are right.
Good or bad it is everything you think it is.
It’s freedom, it is sexual, it is religious, it is sacrilegious, it is holy, it is evil, it is harsh, it is amazing and a bevy of other descriptive words that you can instantly insert to try and narrow this in any way you desire. But most of all remember, it is beautiful.
The biggest lie ever told at Burning Man is the good intentioned “I’ll be right back”. Just imagine a city of art. Sculptures that reach for the heavens and the most beautiful of them will be sacrificed to the flame.
I was with some of my best friends and I met some of the best people from all over the world. We shared stories, we shared hugs, everyone I came in contact with became family in a way as if this was one big reunion. I came in as prepared as I thought I could possibly be. Which means I wasn’t prepared at all really.
I get to the gates and as a virgin they make you roll around in the dirt and hit a huge gong. As a way to get your mind right. I also yelled the scream from Lion King
I had help from my friends to put together costumes and accessories. Thank you all.
I had a tent.
Which got filled with so much dust I spent the majority of the time sleeping on a bean bag outside. When I did sleep.
I had food and booze.
Which you really only snack and you’re never at camp besides a few hours in the morning. Or when you need a break from riding your bike.
Everywhere you go there are just people whose mission is to give you food and drink. And as you experience this all you want to do is the same. It is just universal hospitality among strangers.I had everything else on the checklist you can find on the Internet and it was all so helpful.
Here is where this piece is going to get hectic, scattered brained and all out weird.
First and foremost I do not care how “out there” you think you are as the week goes on all you can think every morning when you wake up is ” I’m not weird enough, I need to get weirder ”
You see and experience so many new things every day that you become numb to your own judgments.
Every morning at camp about 100 ft from ours was this camp of gay (or at least I presume were gay. I know nothing anymore) men who would dress in lingerie then served hot French toast and ice cold Gatorade. Which is the greatest combination ever. There was a spa women could go strictly to get pleasured, no men allowed. It was appropriately named The Pussy Day Spa.There was a man who wore a strap on with a toothbrush attached to the end and would brush your teeth for you. Luckily I purchased numerous toothbrushes beforehand and didn’t have to resort to this form of dental hygiene. There was a camp that hundreds of other burners went to and you would just sing Disney songs together. There was pirate ships and at night these pirate ships along with numerous other art cars would be covered in lights, spit out fire, and have sound systems that would rival any festival you’ve ever been to. I saw a real life Boeing 747 that had a DJ booth where the cock pit was and instead of blades replaced the propellers with speakers that had so much bass my entire skeletal system shook. There was sunrise music sets, there was sunset music sets. I would be standing right next to celebrities and not want to say one word because I’d also be standing next to a European man who has been traveling the last 3 years of his life relying only on the kindness of others.
There was one point where I stayed up 36 hours straight and I got to experience how nature revolved around this temporary community. How the led lights of the night still dulled in comparison to the full moon that proved to be king and I went to deep Playa a place outside the city limits and saw stars like I had never witnessed them before. So bright and pure and truly amazing I understood why our ancestors thought them to be gods above us. I saw the sun come up over the mountain horizons and take ownership over all that it reached by providing warmth. So beautiful it gave me something to believe in.
As I watched this sunrise I was talking to a French man (at least I think he was from France) he didn’t speak a word of English and I did not know his native tongue at all but we just communicated for 45 minutes as if we were both building the Tower of Babel. At the end of it he simply said the word “gift” and took my picture on an instant Polaroid gave it to me and rode away on his bike.
There was a man who started the week in white linens and would walk around carrying a huge cross the entire time. Not saying a word he would be in visible pain and bleeding but it was what he came out there to do. It was the purpose of his Burn.
I saw some of the most extravagant costumes. I saw the most mass nudity I had ever witnessed also.
I watched Daft Punk preform randomly with only 200 other people around as the moon reached its peak and our friend who was a volunteer said they had breakfast with the workers the next morning.
There was an actual Thunderdome.
I am still undefeated at thumb war even though it was a close call on a best 2 out of 3!
There was Temple which was a beautiful structure individuals would go and tell their stories both immensely happy and devastatingly sad. We went as a group and wrote messages and hung picture for our friend James “Kansas” Chapman (click name for his GoFundMe information) who was suppose to be there with us in the physical not just in spirit. The temple is made of copper so it burned green once they set it ablaze.
I sat in unison with 70,000 other humans watching the actual man burn. Thinking how we are all experiencing this differently. Sitting with the people I came with thinking how I love them and glad we came together for this. As the fireworks and flames grew more massive knowing this all can’t last forever but it will be cherished all ways.
I could write and entire novel on all that I saw and a series on the things I don’t remember.
And I still didn’t see everything…
Yes Burning Man is everything you could imagine. But with this imagination that you have about what takes place there, just know good or bad you have to seek these things out. The best part about this life festival is you make it what you want it to be, you shape this existence for a week. The weird crazy things you hear or assume are most likely all true if you choose to find them. You seek out what you want and it will find its way to you. I had so many sincere simple human moments the week I spent there. There were so many people I wanted there with me to experience this also I’m not going to name them all (but my family, Livia, Kansas, My Coachella crew, Mrs. D, Fran, Timmy, etc to infinity) it’s just something that if I knew every word in every language ever spoken. I still couldn’t properly put in context how truly different in the best most refreshing way possible it was. As a species humans in general tend to only truly become one in times of tragedy. I say in general because I’ve seen how music at Coachella can make thousands and most importantly the people you are with feel connected. Burning Man was souls moving as one to create art and not just art you see or touch but art you breathe, eat, drink, feel, hear, experience in every way fathomable.
I will state for the record I have worn a headband almost everyday since I’ve been back. I think I have one for everyday of the week in my collection now. But I pride myself on being a logical and very level headed person. I never get too high and I never get too low. Because life always balances out. So I realize what happens in Black Rock City could never be how the world fully operates. With the way the fabric of our society is stitched, Burning Man could never be the clothing we wear as a people everyday. It is not in our nature anymore to be as pure as we are in the desert. I understand this. We are far too bound to labeling and categorizing everything. It is how we identify and rationalize that us vs them mentality that we all have in group think. Even while at Burning Man people still felt compelled to introduce me to every other black person that was there as if we have to know each other exist out here just in case we need each other. Overall I experienced this with people I love. I met people, I did things. I aspire to continue to experience life with people I love. I hope I continue to meet more people and do more things.
I know there are systems in place in our world that are constant and must remain, both good and evil. But if we could all bring back a little bit of the essence of what Burning Man is suppose to be. If we placed a little bit of art in our personal lives and the world around us. Something truly inspiring could happen. You don’t have to go out to the desert, dress exotic, be weird, possibly do mind altering substances and experience something life changing to make your world and the world of those around you a little bit better. We all look to the same sky for what we believe. Everything about this life is really a cosmic rental in the end. But like I said I am logical. I know as small as this might seem to me, it could be asking for too much of you. I don’t think those who go to Burning Man miss all the dust and art and music and everything else out there so much as they simply miss what it represents. The rest of the year they miss a week of us having the potential to be exactly what we are meant to be, human. So what if I told you in your everyday life to be more you?