When this work day ends I will be packing up and heading Home again. Burning Man goes by many things to us Burners… The Playa, Black Rock City, the dust… but for me the most appropriate term is “Home”. It is a place of love, tolerance, support, and happiness. It is difficult to explain Burning Man to people who have never been. You can show people the art, talk about the personal experiences, show videos and pictures, but you don’t even begin to capture the spirit and culture that thrives in that community. It is something I believe everyone should experience once, it is a place that no words, pictures, or videos can do justice.
I didn’t understand what Burning Man really was when I first went, and I still don’t understand it completely, I don’t think anyone does (or can). It is a living organism that evolves each year. The 10 Principles get things started but as a near anarchist community it is up to the individuals to build, create, and participate. It is a beautiful and mind-blowing experience to see the city grow throughout the week from a relatively few people to 65,000ish burners loving, living, and experiencing the moment. It isn’t really “about” anything more than just being human, and with that humanity comes art, beauty, sex, drugs, laughter, tears, mind, body, and spirit. It is a place to heal and to grow all parts of who you are and who you want to be.
I’ve been asked before what my favorite part of Burning Man is, and I have a relatively simple answer. My favorite part is when you end up in a warm embrace with a “stranger” and as you hold that person tight you say “I love you” and they say it back, and they mean it. For a moment your spirits mix together and stretch into eternity together. You no longer notice the dust as their skin presses against you and both of you hold each other as the limitations of the body disappear and two people become one. That is why you will often find me in a cuddle puddle, spooning with strangers and loved ones, and hugging all those I meet. It is the love that draws me to the Playa, the uninhibited and unashamed passion and intimacy for other people. It is love for another, love for an unknown, love united by the simple fact you exist at the same moment together. It is love that we all strive for and desire but in the “default world” we cover it up, it is a love that roams free on the Playa.
This year I have the incredible pleasure of taking a “virgin” with me. My partner, Anna, is coming to Burning Man for the first time. To be honest, I’m nervous.. but I need to stop planning and allow the playa magic to do it’s thing. I know her, I love her, and I know she will have a fantastic time. There will be hardships, there will be rough days and nights (there always are when you are doing something of value), but in the end I know it will make her stronger, me stronger, and us stronger. Burning Man is always what you allow it to be, once you put your walls down it will be exactly what you need.
I don’t really take pictures while out on the Playa. In a lot of ways it is intentionally temporary. It springs from dust for a moment and returns to dust in the end, leaving only an imprint on my mind. There will probably be a photo or two of me, but I prefer to stay out from behind the lens. But, for those interested, below are some of my favorite videos and pictures:
My Playa Adventure 2010 Part 1
My Playa Adventure 2010 Part 2
Oh The Places You’ll Go
Wallaby Way Burning Man 2012
Stuck In Customs Photo Album