Last week I attended burning man. It was my 4th year.
For those of you unfamiliar, burning man is an arts and counter-culture festival that takes place in the middle of the flat dessert near Reno. It serves as a temporary, self regulating city that values self expression and social inclusion. There are theme camps, workshops, elaborately decorated vehicles, dance parties, and beautiful sculptures that can reach up to 20 stories tall. Anything made of wood is burned near the end of the week while everything else is packed up and taken out of there, leaving no trace.
It’s a special place that many people refer to it as “home.” One of the more intriguing aspects is that there is no commerce. No money is ever exchanged so no one is profiting from these incredible projects that people often spend all year building and pouring their hearts into. I must admit, it’s quite humbling to a money grubbing harlot such as myself.
It’s difficult to describe burning man to people who’ve never been. Even the incredible images and videos that come out of it don’t come close to doing it justice. A lot of people just think its a place where people go to fuck, and while there’s certainly that aspect to it, it’s just one of many directions you can go. For me its all about the art, dancing, and connections I make with others. Fucking is great and all, but I have more than enough opportunities to do that with someone who hasn’t been baking in the sun for a week and covered in alkaline dust.
Like any good trip, I feel like a hit a bit of a reset button and have been processing what I’d like to do from this point forward. Being around that degree of creative energy and pure generosity is a bit contagious. Especially considering how more and more non-participating, consuming spectators attend burning man every year, I’d like to come back next year with a little more than just my self reliance. Not sure what that looks like just yet, but we’ll see.