In 2013 I finally made it to Burning Man. It’s been on my to do list since 2008 when I met some people at a party that blew my mind, and they had just been there. Naturally I thought there was a correlation.
Until this year it really wasn’t in the flow. Timing, finances, the sheer energy, invitations. They didn’t happen in unison until last year. A gorgeous friend said he was going, he booked the RV, invited me and a bestie plus one to come. Another friend invited us to join their camp. I had the means to go. I had the time to go. It all flowed.
That’s Burning Man for you. It told me when I was going to attend.
What I loved about Burning Man:
–Workshops. I learned a lot at Burning Man. Frankly, I was more of a daytime Burner. I attended workshops (Loved Sonya Sophia’s workshops at the Red Lightning Camp) and explored art & the desert. Sure I partied at night, but that ended up being the least of my priorities when I realized all the gold that was available at the daytime workshops. Radical inclusion and gifting at its finest.
–Wearing whatever I wanted. Literally. Liberation!
–My roommates. I literally had the best roommates EVER. We all got along, we were all independent, yet worked together to keep our Shangri-La and each other in a state of harmony. Together we enjoyed a number of lovely rituals: We drank champagne christened with rose water, brewed the best coffee, made the finest meals, ate the best chocolate….we enjoyed these times together, and we fucked off a lot and explored on our own. So we had the best of both worlds. Our wildcard roommate brought us a top up of champagne and avocados just as the supply ran dry and his fresh energy made the Burn Night extra special. LOVE THEM. FOREVER.
–My bike and my daily rides around the Playa. Exercise and easy entertainment. (Play your favorite song ever here).
–The plethora of art & music. Sensory overload in the best way possible. Loved every moment. I feel blessed that I am sharing a planet with others that are able to express themselves in the ways I observed at BM. Radical Self Expression is a perfect way of describing what goes on here. INSPIRED. IN AWE.
–The water appreciation factor. I was acutely aware all week of how much drinking water (which was fresh spring water collected from a Utah Source), washing water, toilet flushing water, grey water and black water we had. Monitoring all this water made me appreciate this ever flowing luxury that much more. If we ran out in the playa (or overfilled our RV grey/black tanks) we would have to deal, and we’d be at the mercy of the Playa Gods. After Burning Man we bee-lined for the hot springs. Heaven, my friends, is soaking in the hot springs after Burning Man.
–The break from the Wifi/iPhone. While we did eventually find a wifi hub just steps from our camp (ironic) it was quite sweet to surrender to the dusty interconnected nothingness that most of the Festival provided.
What I didn’t like:
–The rule breakers (litterbugs): Some people were all over the principles of BM, and others couldn’t give a shit. It’s a serious bummer. I guess it’s a reflection of the planet as well. For example, signs everywhere said: please don’t pour your greywater in the portapotties. This was to encourage people to consciously dispose of their dishwater into the widely available evaporation contraptions set up around the desert (I mean, its hot and dry. A total no brainer.), and to not make the portapotties any more gross than they already were. I saw a few people pouring their waste water into the portapotties. Sigh. I guess those people don’t know how to read?
–The copious drug use. I’m not here to judge, and I’m not against fun. I am a keen observer, however, and as someone who was mostly sober (as i mentioned I did enjoy my share of rose water christened champagne), I noticed that a lot of people around me were hardly sober. Like in the “out of their gourd” category. The eyes and jaws of fellow Burners showed that generous amounts of party favors were consumed at any given time of the day at BM. It’s not like I think this is “bad”. I do feel that being in the desert while participating in this human experiment is a pretty big trip in itself. I also feel that being mostly or closer to sober is a good idea when anything could happen at any moment. Dust storms, heat stroke, accidents, epiphanies, random who knows what. In my opinion, being cracked out on x impedes Burning Man principal 7: Civic Responsibility. I have to say that I’m biased because I’m frustrated with human apathy enmasse and this behavior triggers me. I’ve also been called to 911 level action in party situations and my near sobriety literally saved the day.
–The lines. 12 hours in a line of cars to get in, similar to get out. BARF.
–The gifting of junk/unhealthy foods. One of the Burning Man principles promotes gifting. This is a wonderful principal. The gifts my friends and I received included cheap dollar store plastic items like a bubble dispenser that didn’t work, gum that contained aspartame, cookies baked with gluten-rich wheat flour, and a shower of chemical laden sunscreen that actually was not desired or needed. Now, I know I’m at the risk of sounding like an ungrateful freak, but I have to say, that I’m not interested in receiving any of the above. Thus, I’m tempted to say that a lot of the gifting that occurs at Burning Man in not done with the highest consciousness. Frankly, i don’t get it. Why give a gift just to give a gift? Why not share something extraordinary that comes completely from the heart? One girl I met gave a guy I was talking to a bejeweled portable ashtray that she created herself. It was beautiful. She probably made only a couple and chose that guy to give it to, because he literally needed an ashtray when she gave it to him. In that moment I wished I had been smoking so that she had given it to me, it was that gorgeous. That is a gift. Hucking dollar store junk around and calling it a gift is called voting for the wrong party. This is MY OPINION. Call me an asshole if you don’t agree. And I recognize that most people aren’t aware of how lame cheap shit is.
–Spending Money on junk I didn’t need and would NEVER normally buy but did anyway. Enter cheap dollar/party store examples here. I really do not enjoy buying stuff that breaks after one use. Experience showed me that all I really needed was a couple extra lights and a lock for my bike. I had everything I needed for BM or could have easily manifested it. Keep in mind that I’m a perpetual traveler, an aspiring minimalist and basically kick ass most days of the week (i.e. am highly skilled at improvising and problem solving). I resolve to spend my money more consciously in general, and especially if I ever return to BM.
–Nuclear Testing 50 miles from the site. One evening, as we rode the Lady Sassafras across the Playa, I had a lovely conversation with an guy who begrudgingly admitted he was in the Army. I immediately shared with him that I was beyond delighted to learn that an “Army Guy” was attending Burning Man. This to me was a great sign from beyond. Our conversation led to him disclosing to me he knew that the Army did nuclear testing about 50 miles from the Burning Man festival site. FAIL.
There you have it. My take on Burning Man. Should you go? YES. Remember to pack your iodine and immune supporting foods and supplements. Be safe and have the TIME OF YOUR LIFE. And READ the Burning Man Principles. It’s the whole point.