It’s our Woodstock. It’s our Haight and Ashbury. It’s the place the Merry Pranksters would have created had things not gotten quite so out of hand. Or maybe that’s inaccurate. Maybe it truly is something else entirely.
I know for sure it is a place of exploration. It is a supreme return to the instinctual id while keeping some version of your ego and identity. Where you do everything exactly right. And when you do manage to fuck up, you couldn’t hope to find a more perfect time and place to do it. We remember how to play, and laugh, and eat candy, and stay up late. How to figure things out and entirely exit your comfort zone. To get weird and talk nonsense and be completely understood. To walk all night, inhaling dust and dancing holes into the ground.
When your body wears out and you weep from the extreme emotions of sleep deprivation you begin to feel the powerful weight of this place. A steep and unwieldy emotional roller-coaster that assists you in shaking off the comfortable persona that you’ve spent years creating for yourself: I am this, I do this, I feel this, I react to this. Once you realize this is a place you can be/do/feel anything, the possibilities you begin to create for yourself and your life are amazing.
We burn a man down on Saturday. I see it as a last hurrah. The entire week is building up to this moment. The population is at its peak. The art is all finally finished and functioning. The parties are the loudest, longest and insanely unmatchable. You get to a point where who you used to believe you were sort of vanishes in the madness and you’re left with whatever version of awesome you have the nerve to continue being.
Then Sunday we burn the temple. All week long people write on the temple. Messages to people they have lost or things that they want to let go of. (I think sunrise after losing your mind all night is the best time to do this because you are most tuned in and in the most raw emotional form possible for honestly expressing yourself.) When we burn the temple the party is over; it is a silent moment of introspection and enormous flames. Somehow with the falling of those last logs you are released. Cleansed of that year’s collection of baggage and bullshit and suffering. Reborn, renewed, reawakened to the beauty of this life and the right way to treat each other and the endless possibility for love and harmony and being whoever the hell you want for the rest of your life.
If done just right, what I’m telling you is that Burning Man is an excellent opportunity for accelerated personal evolution… if you’re into that kind of thing. As a wise friend of mine once said, “It’s only a bad trip if you come back the same person.”