My first burn was incredible. People keep asking me how it was and I have a very hard time putting it into words. It’s pretty overwhelming to try and grasp. It’s nothing like I expected and everything I hoped it would be. I’ve been back 2 weeks now and I’m still in this weird head space. I’m not sure if its the residual effects from the drugs or if it really changed me.
For those of you who know nothing about it, Burning Man is in the middle of a Nevada desert north of Reno. The ground is an ancient lake bed so its hard, dry and flat. There are daily dust storms but according to the people I camped with, the ones we experienced this year were nothing compared to years past. They call the pop-up community Black Rock City, and it IS a fucking city. Spanning nearly 4 miles wide and shaped like a horseshoe. It’s a clock with 10 to 2 missing. The street names acceding from the center (where the man is) are all “Times” 3:00, 3:30, 4:00 and so on. For the most part, it is formed by the attendees. Stages, art installations, bars, camps, seminars, food, yoga, mediation, orgies, counseling, hang out spots, pretty much anything you can think or there’s probably a place for it. There’s no BM general store or BM shower facility or BM anything really… The staff isn’t really staff. They’re all members of the city.
Everyone in the city is asked to live by the 10 principals. Radical self inclusion, radical self reliance, gifting, participation, communal effort, radical self expression, immediacy, leave no trace, decommodification, and civic responsibility. There is no money exchange at burning man. The only things you can buy are ice and coffee. Gifting does not mean exchange. It means you give things without the intention of receiving anything. While you’re roaming around the playa you will almost certainly run into someone gifting food and or alcohol. 9 times out 10 they don’t give out plates or utensils so it’s smart to bring a cup and a fork with you where ever you go and never forget to thank them. They don’t have to do what they’re doing.
You bring everything you need to survive for a week, or in my case 10 days, in the desert. We had 5 people in our group. We brought 110 gallons of water in big plastic barrels and a shit ton of spaghetti.
It felt like we were the luckiest group of virgins out there. We were fortunate to be able to camp in the longest running theme camp right on the inner ridge of the circle. 8:00 and Esplanade. I could walk about 20 steps from my site and be in the middle of everything. We gave back to our camp by staying a few extra days to be the LNT (Leave no trace) crew. We got down on our hands and knees and picked up every little piece of hair, saw dust, leaf, ANYTHING that was not part of the natural ground. MOOP! (Matter out of place)
While I was out there I had my ups and downs. The combination of not eating as much as normal, the heat, and no where to escape, really broke me down. I had all of these preconceived notions of what it was going to be like and none of them could have been close. The most important thing I learned was when I tried acid for the first time. I learned that happiness is not a place that you reach and that it doesn’t have to be a singular moment. Happiness is not the destination, it’s the way.
I really can see myself going back every year for the rest of my life even if I go without friends. In fact, I might almost prefer to go by myself. People you know too well, in that kind of environment can be dangerous.
Well there’s so much more that can be said, I didnt even scratch the surface. If you’re thinking of going, let me know and I can talk your ear off for days about it.
It feels like everything is falling apart. The worst part is, is that its all by my hand. My life the past 3 years has felt like the grass is always greener on the other side. Constantly chasing something that I think will make me happier only to figure out that I had it better before. I got stuck a year ago. I became complaisant. I wasn’t even aware of what that word ment until I was a perfect example of it. Now my time is up and its time for me to make a move but I’m paralyzed by depression. I’ve pushed away everyone who I held closely. I know that I can’t afford a place to myself and that means moving in with strangers. I can’t help but keep thinking, how the hell am I going to make new connections if I can’t even keep my old ones? I feel as if my next move determines the out come of my life. Do I stay in LA? Do I move to SF? Should I move to Portland? Or just say fuck it and live on a farm or be a bum hitchhiker for a while. I don’t know what’s going to happen and honestly I’m scared. What ever happens, all I know is that I’m alone and the first opportunity that comes at me I need to jump in feet first.