38 hours till lift off. Black Rock City bound! It’s so close I can taste it. Actually I can literally taste it as the clouds of dust shake out of my unwashed rainbow gear. The preparation is well under way but a D&M (deep and meaningful conversation) recently got me thinking ahead. To when the man lies in ashes and the wagons turn around.
When leaving Burning Man each year most of us, while sleep deprived and emotionally exhausted, are also supercharged with a deep connection. A connection to our community, and what it is to be a part of one, and also connected with a deeper part of ourselves. A part that unfortunately we often struggle to keep around. That for me is a huge reason why I keep going back. I desire that yearly reminder of what it feels like to be unconditionally loved and unconditionally loving towards each person you come across. The temple burn gets far less press than the man. Rightly so, this party in the desert was first created and is first recognized as just that: A party. The temple, however, is an opportunity to evolve. We spend the week placing mementos, writing notes, and dropping baggage in the temple. Sunday night we then burn the thing to the ground. A friend of mine a few years back hated this idea. “It’s so beautiful. How could we possibly build something so wonderful just to set it on fire?” True. It’s fucking crazy when you think about it physically. But as temples generally are built for spiritual purposes we’ll delve further. The temple has to be just exactly as big and grand and intricate as it is because it has to hold all of our shit and suffering and personal hells in it. A place so full of pain and old stories and incredible loved ones that we’ve lost has to be magnificent and important. And then we have to burn that shit to the ground. It is our cleansing. It is our forgiving of the world for its moments of cruelty. It is our release from all things that keep us from being our highest selves. So what do you burn?
As always I hold space for my two closest grandparents, legendary counselors and my supreme examples of pure love. I burn my grief for them and raise to a level where I can still feel them with me, a place where I know they are not gone, and never will be. This year my step-mothers Mom has also passed. So I burn the sadness that has followed and I imagine her with her husband, playing cards, happy and young again, jumping into the lake behind their heavenly cabin in Wisconsin.
I burn heartache. The months in my past spent aching over my first love. I let him go completely. In the ashes I find an opening for new love and a readiness to be a part of an elevated and healthy relationship. One where we are both pushed beyond what we once thought possible in support, inspiration and unconditional love.
I burn unworthiness. I am worthy. I deserve and accept the very best in life.
I burn poverty and any thought related to being in want. As that goes up in flames, I welcome infinite abundance and know that it is my birth right. WE are energy, all things are energy, we create flow by bringing our thoughts to the gratitude of having flow. I burn stagnation. I create evolution.
These are things I am burning down for myself. But more importantly I am burning them down for each of you. By removing my own blockages, letting go of my suffering and baggage, and connecting to my highest self whenever possible I am creating a better world for us all to live in. A world more in tune with love and community.
I am burning it all down for you, and I’m hoping you burn it all down for me too.
Light, love, fire and ashes and dust,
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.”
So it seems that another year has passed and the time has come to repack our colorful garb for a fresh season of dust-caked greatness. I can’t believe the lengthy roster of my nearest and dearest that are frolicking out onto open playa with me this year.
Finally, the dreams, and nightmares, have begun. The fantastic imagery you are left with after Burning Man leaves a special mark on your subconscious. A burner often dreams of flying over the desert grasping golden balloons, being chased by bjork, maybe walking through a room of day-glo oriental rugs while drinking sake, or worst of all arriving without any of your nifty stuff. At this time of year I often wake up in cold sweats thankful: I didn’t get there without my bike, or my water, or my whistle, or my two rainbow tutus, because we haven’t even left yet. Whew! The last thing you want to do is show up unprepared. That’s why I’ve spent the last few days sewing fur onto my moccasins, mod-podging random pictures onto forty bic lighters, threading little LEDs into fake flowers and ordering 50 pairs of rainbow firework glasses. The water, tent stakes and lotion we can pick up on the way.
I’m so excited for temple at dawn, hula hooping on a trampoline to wait out a dust storm, chasing blinking lights miles into the horizon because we haven’t gone that way yet, and most of all to celebrate the new year with 60,000 + of my closest friends.
Shake the dust. Burn the past. Light the future.