I promised myself I would do this. I promised myself that, one month later, I would sit down and put my thoughts down on paper. But I can tell already this is going to be harder than I thought, there’s so much to try to explain, so much to try to hold.
And here’s the irony in that struggle: what I could really use right now is a letter from myself, dated the last week of August 2003.
I had many plans for the Burning Man this year, one of which was “The Letter Home Project.” The idea was simple. Playa people would sit down and write themselves a letter, they’d address it and leave it with me. I’d bring the letters back with me and, a few months later, I’d drop them in the mail. Imagine. A letter from yourself a few months off the playa. What would it say? What would that playa person say to you? What would they ask you to do? Would you listen? Would you do it? Would you be inspired? Are you the person in that letter?
I know what one of those letters would have said. My cousin would have scratched down pages of proof.
“Evidence!” a friend said. “Yes! Proof,” he agreed.
Right there in front of you. Burning Man is all the proof you need. All the evidence you need gathered up and dropped in your lap. Proof that people want to treat each other well, and evidence that we all know how. Proof that happiness is a state of mind. Evidence that creativity is contagious. Proof-positive that, yes, it can be done. And further evidence that you are not crazy.
And, in all of this evidence, in all of this proof, is a hint of something far more vast, of something almost too large to consider… of something well beyond belief… a hint that, if the power of Burning Man could be directed, it could solve the world’s problems faster than they could be collected.
But I didn’t do “The Letter Home Project” this year. I brought the paper, the pens and the envelopes, but I didn’t do it. I don’t know if I decided against it because I felt it was bigger or smaller than my other projects, but I decided against it for 2003. Next year, right?
So, in the meantime, I’m on my own… listening for that voice from the playa.
Thankfully, I think my letter home would have been simple. It would have said, “Life is amazing, dreams are possible, people are beautiful. Let down your guard; leave it down. Stay happy. And don’t apologize for feeling this way.”
I think that’s my letter. I think that’s the letter that would have arrived postmarked Black Rock City (with, perhaps, a few other personal notes in the margins).
And a smile crosses my face as I write this. Because I still believe it.
One month later.