For weeks I’ve been telling myself I should have finished this post by now. I think I’m still trying to decide how I feel about having gone to Burning Man. Maybe I should just list a bunch of random thoughts.
- I suspect you can only really know what it’s like by going. I’m glad I went.
- I met totally awesome people at my camp. I had several deep and meaningful conversations with new friends; that is one of the things I look forward to in this community.
- Like when you go hiking in a beautiful place, almost no one was grumpy. There was a couple fighting outside my tent one night (“Listen to me! Listen to me!” Then silence … he was listening, so then why didn’t she talk? LOL), but that was the only negativity I can remember personally.
- Having some sort of purpose there is important. I helped out with an art project and also our camp setup/takedown.
- I didn’t see all the art on the playa. I didn’t go down all the streets. I didn’t see all my friends who were there. You can probably replace “didn’t” with “couldn’t” and these statements don’t lose any accuracy.
- In spite of being about radical self-expression, I found myself feeling a little withdrawn. I missed my electronic connections. When the rest of the 50,000 or so people got to the playa I realized I might as well put my phone away, plus I thought it might be good for me to just give it up for a week and so I did. I think I would have been alright if I’d thought up something to replace it with. But I didn’t, and so in some sense I withdrew a little.
- Adding to that, I found the weather/climate very uncomfortable, especially in the day: hot, dry and very dusty – and this was a “good” year. In a way the whole thing was like a big party; I enjoy but am not a big partier. I was there early and left late. 11 days of uncomfortable partying is too long for me for.
- I did really enjoy going out at night wearing all sorts of light-up stuff and seeing other people’s illuminated creativity and seeking out good music. Disorient, Space Cowboys, Bass Couch and the Robot Heart… The last time I found the Robot Heart it was on the move, and I was one of dozens of people on bikes, pedaling along on the port side. It reminded me of how dolphins follow a boat. So then I wondered if the sound which boats make as they motor by is like the house/psytrance music from the Robot Heart. I’ll choose to believe that.
- I already had a burner name in mind for myself and on the way out there explained to some of my campmates and one of them started calling me that: “Sparks”. More on that in some other post 😉
- As I’ve wondered whether I can wash suede, sussed out how to clean my suitcases, and was rearranging the dust in and around my pickup the other day, I mused about why people burn so much there. And was reminded of what a trailwork friend from California said after he’d been working around poison oak – that he would wash his clothes in the fireplace.
- Being in some kind of funk after the burn is common. I felt a little like I’d been in a plane that someone else had been driving and they’d suddenly left and left me at the controls. Several people I know came down with physical illnesses. Socially it sounds like we’re walking on shifting sands. Now I’ve mostly got control of the plane again, but it still has a few dips and swoops. But maybe it’s better that way; don’t want to get too comfortable.
- Those feelings notwithstanding, it WAS worthwhile, I’m real glad I went and I do hope to do it again sometime. Just more comfortably and/or not for so long. Maybe next year, maybe not. If they continue to limit ticket sales, I might prefer to imagine my ticket in the dusty hands of someone who’s never gone before. We’ll see. Shifting sands…
More photos on Flickr.