October 2nd, 2009  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

Changes

October 2nd, 2009  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa
Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.

temple zone copy2For a lot of people, Burning Man is a transformational experience.

Your outlook changes. Your experience of the world changes. The way you relate to other people, and the place they hold in your life, changes.

Stories of transformations are everywhere.

There is the business executive who, after attending his first Burn, decided that the life he was leading really wasn’t the right one for him, so he chucked his job and his status and went on the road for a year and a half, trying to decide what to do next with his life. (This story is not apocryphal; ; I am not making it up. True, I can’t use the names, but you can probably understand the reasons why.)

There is the young woman who went to Burning Man after graduating from college and decided, “Oh yes, this is for me, this is how I want to develop my life, these are the areas where I want to grow.” So she moved to San Francisco, to be in  position to volunteer for the organization. She’s still here.

And then there are the smaller, maybe less dramatic things that happen to you during the event, the ones that you try to take back from the playa with you. The experiences you didn’t know you needed to have until you actually had them. Somehow, you met and had a truly significant and helpful conversation with a person who was going through something a lot like what you’re going through. You found new words to describe your situation, and in the process, discovered more clearly how you were feeling about it. And how exactly did it happen that this was the person you were stranded with in a sandstorm? How exactly did that awesome conversation start?

It’s lost in the haze, but the aftereffects have lingered.

Tell us about how you’ve changed since the time in the desert, and how you got to where you are now.

temple write copy


Submit your Tales From the Playa at reflections@burningman.com

87 Responses to “Changes”

  1. Andie Grace Says:

    My first burn taught me for the first time in my adult life that I could make and keep friends with more than one or two people in a tight knit, nervous group – that I could widen my circle and enrich my life.

    It stuck with me and still helps me 13 glorious years later.

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  2. Madame Buddafly Says:

    I learned that I am strong. I learned that the Universe loves me, and that the wind wants to be at my back helping to push me forward. I learned there is infinate love bigger than me, but gives to me directly every day.

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  3. JV Says:

    My first 2 burns taught me there are more people out there on my wavelength living perfectly respectable, responsible, yet still very interesting and full lives, than I had previous thought. This year’s burn, my 3rd, taught me to share more of myself with my kids. To not hide certain aspects of my life because they don’t fit the stereotypical interests and activities of a parent, including my interest and love for Burning Man.

    Who knows what next year will teach me, I can’t wait to find out. Meanwhile, I’m in the midst of putting my latest lesson into practice.

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  4. Lacie bug Says:

    I learned that my gift is to be a mentor, teacher, therapist in the community. My career choice has served me for a long time, but I discovered I’m ready to change my career and follow my gifts.

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  5. Manny Cercado Says:

    I never knew how beautiful the human soul was until I experienced Burning Man. My camp mates, neighbors and pretty much the entire Playa showed me that there are beautiful people out there. From the theme camps, art installations, art cars, sound camps and the kindness of the community was just so amazing and inspiring.

    I am an engineer and my life was so cut and dry; black and white, pretty much mundane. I feel like it’s been turned upside down (in the good way) by BM. I now try to incorporate things I’ve learned on the Playa into my everyday life to make the people around me and me happier.

    Thank you for the life rejuvenating experience. I am proud to be a burner. :D

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  6. Ian Oteo Says:

    All I did in the end of highschool and the beginning of college was draw and be creative. I painted murals, sculpted masks, drew intricate pencil designs. It opened me up to other worlds internal and external. Slowly I lost interset and became depressed. I felt like anything I did was not good enough, so I stopped. After almost 5 years of being unmotivated/uninspired to produce any artwork, this years burn opened up something I thought was lost. That feeling of intrigue and excitement to be creative. The ability to open up a visionary portal to a world that only I know, but want to share with everyone else. I once again feel truly inspired to share my visions once again…see you next year…

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  7. Nina (9-a) Says:

    This was my first year to Burning Man and was the most beautiful experience of my life. Each day was a new experience filled with adventures, art, music and mostly a sense of community and understanding of appreciation for life and one another.

    I recall one night wandering through the inner playa by myself. I just sat down in the dust, in the middle of it all and the moon was almost full. I watched in silence at all the lights and beautiful people moving around me and never had I felt a sense of belonging. When I finally got up to leave feeling I had secluded myself long enough, suddenly five people with hands locked came running up to me yelling “hug!”, surrounded me and squeezed me tightly. It was a group hug and it was exactly what I needed at that moment. The entire week was like that, having experiences one after the next, encountering people seredipitously and each one are unforgettable moments.

    Now being back in the muggle world as I call it has put things in a new perspective. I have always been a loving and giving individual but now I see so much more. We have so much to give and share with one another. I am so grateful for each person that graced me with their presence, so appreciative of the effort made by all. Loving and giving do not stop when we leave the playa, it will always be part of me. I’m so fortunate to have the understanding that the most precious gift is ourselves.

    Love to you all!

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  8. Kristina Says:

    I went to burning man for the first time this year and everything has changed. I see the world and people so differently. The kindness, openness and freedom of expression and spirit of all the people I met taught me that I don’t have to settle in a circumstance that doesn’t make me happy, surrounded by unfriendly and closed minded people.

    It awoke my imagination and spirit and I have made so many changes since then. It’s only been a month since it ended and I have already moved to a new state, to a beautiful town where I am working and living with wonderful people. I am also planning a trip out west that is looking to be wonderful and potentially more than just a trip.

    Also, I went with a friend and the experience we shared let us grow and learn that our connection is much stronger than we thought and that we want to start a life together.

    I will definitely be going back to the burn every year.

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  9. Seven Says:

    As someone who has always been an “artist” since being able to pick up a pencil, HAD to go to the art event once I saw at 15 years old, a decorated school bus filled with burners on their way to Burning Man. I made it there and realized, amongst the awe of everything and everyone, I have truly found my sanctuary.

    Burning Man has showed me to embrace life, freedom, kindness, and quirkyness…..as well as, continuously pushing anything my imagination contrives up to a potential reality!

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  10. Jeff McCoy Says:

    Possibility Flourishes at Burning Man
    My first visit to Burning Man, my virgin burn as the regulars would say, concluded a short time ago. I am blown away! I feel permanently changed.
    Play, love, express yourself! That’s my new mantra.
    Burning man is a magnificent, chaotic, expansive, improbable week-long event in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. It is a combination whimsical celebration and social experiment; a playland for adults to express themselves, free from the constraints that we have tacitly accepted in mainstream society. What emerges when we “take the lid off” is utterly creative, surprisingly generous and deeply inspiring.
    Yeah, it’s a little crazy too, but in a good way.
    Living for a week in the Nevada desert isn’t easy. Days are hot, dry, and dusty. Nights can be very cold. A guiding principle of the Burning Man spirit is radical self-reliance. You have to bring everything in with you. Ice and coffee are the only things available for purchase. You might think that would tend to make people stingy, hoarding what little they have, but just the opposite is true. Burning Man operates on a “gift economy;” people share freely and with no expectation that they will be compensated for their generosity.
    I saw amazing examples of generosity that serve as standard-bearers for a possible future that humanity could live into. For example, as we were returning from the deep desert, a friend and I came upon a beautiful young girl standing alone, in the dusty breeze, holding a platter. As we approached, we could see that heaped upon the platter were steaming banana and Nutella-filled crepes and luscious grapes. She had just prepared them and was waiting patiently for random people to wander by and partake of her fine cooking. My friend and I started waving passers-by down, jumping in front of their bicycles and shouting, “Stop, you have to try these crepes and grapes!” Soon she had a crowd around her, showering her with praise. The beaming smile on her face revealed her true reward: The act of giving filled her with love.
    There is a pervasive sense of abundance and yet nearly no waste. People are motivated not to waste because of the leave no trace policy, which requires that all refuse be packed out. The festival has a stunningly small impact on the environment when you consider that at its height, it is the temporary home to forty thousand people and a week later, not a tent stake remains. Burning Man has been recognized by Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics for its outstanding success in environmental stewardship.
    Several other aspects of Burning Man culture impressed me profoundly. The creativity on display was mind-boggling. Whatever the human mind can conceive –which is of course unlimited– might appear in the Nevada desert. I saw a forty-foot bronze snail oozing across the Playa, keeping pace with a twenty-five foot square pyramid also moving along, carrying juiced-up revelers. One evening, several new friends and I spent an hour enraptured by a sixty-foot long computer display. You might say there’s nothing all that impressive about that, except that it was three dimensional, we were lying underneath it on the desert floor, and it was programmed to simulate purple rain, irridescent waves, and rainbow-colored tornados. Sure, some burners were high on mind-altering substances, but with art like that, you don’t have to be. What is most startling about these installations is that they are for the most part anonymous. Artists build them simply for the sake of expressing themselves, often at great personal cost, for the enjoyment of an audience they will never meet or be acknowledged by.
    Self-expression is the order of the day. People wear whatever they want, pink boas or blue neon suits. I saw one guy costumed as a centaur, complete with moving hooves.
    Adults playing, Burning Man style, definitely involves uninhibited sexuality. I loved it, and not just for the obvious reasons. What I loved was the way that free-expression of our sexual selves, racy clothing, exaggerated flirtation, pole-dancing lessons, did not lead to rampant sexual harassment. To humanity’s benefit, even in this environment, no still means no.
    Burning Man may not be to everyone’s taste. The flagrant sexuality may be too much for some, and the prevalence of recreational drug use might worry others, but what we can all take from the existence of Burning Man is that a society founded upon liberated self-expression, abundance, generosity, conservation, creativity, and love is possible. It takes only our will and our imagination to make it a reality.
    Jeff McCoy is the Founder of Heart Connections (www.heartconnections.org), a company devoted to transforming people’s lives in the areas of love, romance, intimacy, and sexuality.
    My goals are to help people create the love life they desire and to spread love throughout the world.

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  11. Jooooolia Says:

    this was my third burn. also my best. as with every year, when i get back to the default world, i have to remind myself (in this city anyway) that it’s not necessarily ok to wave hello to anyone anytime. i have to “sober up” a little, as far as my views of humanity are concerned. i have had a hell of a time since returning this year from the playa. i actually have to strive to remember the best week of my life with all the crap that’s happened since. but it’s those memories that helped me with the death of a loved one.

    this was my first Temple burn. and it was spectacular. my grandmother was Seventh Day Adventist. not quite my cuppa, but to each their own. during her memorial service while they were talking about everlasting life with their Lord, i remembered the beauty from burning man. not only the art installations, or the aesthetic, but the humanity. the community. the family. even if it’s only for a week.

    i went with my best friend and my husband this year, and i couldn’t have picked better camp mates. we’re already planning for next year.

    it was kinda funny though, the funeral i went to was in Tennessee, and i was able to see family i hadn’t seen in quite a while. i mentioned my burning man trip this year, and no one believed that i’d gone. somehow they were surprised.

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  12. Juliette Mondot Says:

    A 2009 Boomer BM virgin’s report for her friends who didn’t attend

    Black Rock City is laid out in a circle around a large open space for art. People are constantly arriving, so the architecture of the camps is ever changing. Some people set up fabulous mansions with many accoutrements of civilization. Theme camps abound for everything from Kidsville and Hushville (where I stayed) to wacky, profane entertainments. I was laughing out loud everywhere I went at the humor, silliness and surprise of human creativity. I was delighted by the many men wearing tutus and various skirts. I realize how very repressive our culture is to men in regards to personal adornment.
    By Tuesday afternoon, I put on my tutu for Tutu Tuesday.

    People also bring customized contraptions on wheels which have to be registered with the Department of Mutant Vehicles. I spotted my favorite on my last day, a shopping cart with a country clown figure
    appearing to push it from the back, feet pumping back and forth. A man, barely visible sitting in the basket, is driving it across the playa.

    Bicycles are everywhere. The population grows by the thousands daily. The sun heats up the desert. By Thursday more naked people are walking and riding around. By Friday nudity is everywhere and white bodies have turned red and brown. My modesty and any concern for appearance have burnt away too. I am covered in dust, head to toe. My clothes are filthy. I pedal miles every day. I try the skate rink, a trampoline. I take the Art Tour to the distant sculptures on the Playa. I talk to interesting people everywhere. Everyone is friendly. I smile a lot.

    The Burning Man spirit is alive and well. And every year it is expanded and renewed in a unique experiment of organized anarchy. It is a Gift Culture that changes the rules of capitalism. A big part of why it works are the thousands of volunteers in various capacities. Several of my favorite experiences were associated with my volunteer work and interacting with other volunteers. There are, of course, small predators among the residents. Word of mouth reported a lot of bikes stolen this year. Law enforcement busted a bartender for giving away absinthe to an underage girl. How are you supposed to ID a naked person? But all in all, Burning Man is a self chosen city of kind hearted and interesting people. If you don’t like nudity, profanity, wicked humor, outrageous looks and can’t live with dust, you won’t enjoy Burning Man. If you like smart, engaged people, inspiring art and kooky creativity, you will feel at home.

    As I drive away, looking at the sky and landscape I feel an old feeling, one I used to have when I was in my early twenties. It is a feeling of bliss, simple happiness, cheerful anticipation for living, a perceptible wavelength of goodwill from the generosity of a community of humans. Burning Man is a big city with something for everyone. Cya next year.

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  13. Yaga Says:

    It reminded me that I want to build relationships with people based on who they are and what they love, not what they do to for a living. It renewed my faith in the awesome power of the human spirit and creativity, and in a way, gave me permission to bring that passion home, to hopefully inspire others to be radically self reliant and expressive.
    I met my wife at Burning Man 2003, and we missed 2007 for the birth of our first child. Last year, we returned, and for the first time in almost a decade, we took it for granted, we didn’t prepare, we didn’t hydrate, we just consumed the event. I came back feeling a little ashamed, but I’ll tell you that it also taught me one of my favorite and most heartfelt lessons. I must be and create what I want to see in my life and in the world around me. This year I defied my self-proclaimed 6% chance of attending by driving through the night to arrive with no ticket (thank you to the greeter who helped me attain one at face value!), spent an amazing Tuesday and Wednesday at home in BRC, laughing and crying on the Playa (thank you so much to all of you who brought your talent, creativity and vision to open my heart and soul), did my best to contribute to everyone I met in some way, then drove a brutal ride home (what is with that construction on 80?) filled with Playa love and dust, and the hope that maybe someone would save the man this year. Alas, I heard they burned him…. long live the man.
    Next year I’m hoping to learn how to punctuate sentences for easier reading.
    Yaga yaga yaga

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  14. K111 Says:

    Burning Man destroyed me this year, and I wasn’t even on the playa. Knowing about it for so many years, never having the money to go, this year I unintentionally became part of ‘Camp envy’; thousands of people who watched via the BMIR webcam. It’s ruined me. I am full of endless regret for not making more effort to get out there, my sadness is tangible and refusing to budge. How did I not join this movement sooner?

    So, next year is the year, my wife and I are already making costumes, gifts, and trying, somehow, to budget our way there. I hope the greeter understands if I start crying after ringing the bell.

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  15. Jennifer C Says:

    My first burn taught me that pursuing my health is not a waste of time, the job I had was sucking the life out of me and some higher power loves me as to have provided this opportunity to get healthy and actully not be in financial stress………… but to have more that I have ever had.

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  16. Quiet Says:

    At first I was a bit overwhelmed, especially since very naked older men kept saying “Welcome Home,” as we arrived.

    But I get it now. I understand. I am indeed Home when I am out in the middle of nowhere with so much love and acceptance.

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  17. darla Says:

    If home is where your heart is, mine was at Burningman. What an experience of true loving and beautiful people everywhere. This was my first burn. I brought back feelings of how the world should accept people for who they are, not what the world thinks they should be, by looks, age, and same belief.

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  18. Amelia Says:

    I have had a severe stomach condition for almost four years. I’ve seen countless doctors and specialists trying to figure out why my body doesn’t seem to like to hold down food or water in any quantity. This had started when I was two months pregnant with my son, so my doctors initially figured it was just severe morning sickness, but it never went away. My son is now three years old (an incredibly healthy and awesome little man!) I discovered the wonders of prop 215 about a year and a half ago, and found I could eat or drink without the severe nausea or throwing up by taking some of natures medicine before i’d eat, but I still had some nausea, weight loss and overall depression due to this condition.

    I was fortunate enough to have a friend surprise me the friday before the burn that she’d bought my ticket and all of my supplies and we were leaving on monday. I’d been a jehovah’s witness up until january this year, and burning man was quite a terrifying thing to me at the time, but i forced myself to go.

    The night of the burn, right as the man ignited, I could literaly feel weight being lifted off my shoulders, like someone had a vacuum cleaner on my soul kinda. I fell to my knees and somehow knew that everything was going to be okay. Upon returning home, my boyfriend (who’d been dealing with my illness for a year and a half) noticed I hadn’t been as sick or depressed lately. I sat down and thought about it and realized that i hadn’t been sick since the first night I was there. I haven’t changed my eating habits, taken any new medication, and have even been able to stop having to smoke before I eat. I feel like I have a brand new chance at life. I can finally go out to a resturant or catch a quick bite without having to smoke or be in excruciating pain every time I eat or drink. I do not know how to explain what happened, but I know that I will be returning every year in gratitude to this amazing event for remedying a horrible illness.

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  19. Mars Says:

    I haven’t yet given a cohesive answer to anyone in my life who has asked me, “So HOW WAS IT?!?!?!?!” And I won’t try to do it here either. Overall, it’s too much for a Cliff Note. More like a Tolstoy novel. But here’s one of many, many enormous lessons learned.

    On the playa we mostly share desires to experience a fuller spectrum of living. But when we leave, we become divided into two large camps.

    One is for those who want to keep the playa as their fantasy getaway, the dream of perfection that could never be. May nothing wake them from the dream, ever. But it just a dream.

    The other camp is those who plot to continue the rebellion. We’re the ones that say we already KNEW humans were capable of this genius and love, but we have to make communities that allow that to be what guides millions. We’re the ones that do think it is possible. We’re the ones who are NOT satisfied with feeling completely happy one week per year, and counting the days for the next 51.

    The two camps argue over issues like open sexuality, raising kids, BRINGING kids, cell phones, diet, you name it. May those debates continue to keep us thinking critically and focused on what matters to our souls.

    Unfortunately, if one person is in one camp and they love someone in the other, they may not last very long together…

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  20. Elizabeth Says:

    I had no idea how much fear i had until i went to my first burn. The first year I went i met someone from LA and i was living i Chicago. We fell in love after one week camping together and i dropped everything and move to LA.
    The experience that is Burning Man had taught me that life is not something i need to be afraid of. I need to live my life and enjoy it to the fullest.
    There is no good to way to explain what Burning Man is like to someone who has never been…It is just an experience that is unforgettable.

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  21. Glenn Says:

    I gotta go!

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  22. equinnox Says:

    I was a virgin burner this year and Burning Man has changed me in ways that I am still discovering! To me, this is the very heart of the theme of EVOLUTION. I feel infinitely more relaxed and open and hopeful and inspired than I did before coming to BRC. I am so grateful to my wonderful camp-mates who were so accepting and loving and fun to be with. I am kind of a control freak, so letting go and remaining present in each moment was a major revelation that I am still manifesting in my default world reality. Thank you for making this blog available, by the way. I absolutely love reading about the experiences of fellow burners.

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  23. dr.placebo Says:

    Because of Burning Man, I’ve learned to open my heart wider than I imagined it could open. I’ve learned to cry without shame at the sunrise, and to laugh when the dust tries to smother me. I’ve learned to wear costumes without regard for propriety, and to cast them off when I cared to. And I’ve learned to dance without concern for what anyone thought.

    What I still need to learn is to have compassion for my fears. I need to feel as validated by having fun as I do by working hard. I need to truly accept that I am just as ephemeral as the Man, and to live with joy in the moment. And I need to accept love when it is offered. I’m not there yet, but I’m on my way.

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  24. Sasha Says:

    I moved to the “OC” almost two years ago and my life here is beautiful because I fell in love but everyone else around me is close minded, conservative and hateful human beings. I am a waitress trust me I meet the worst of the worst. I had bought my ticket for BM in March just counting the days for my unknown journey of transformation to the desert. I hadn’t a clue what to expect with the exceptions of what the website had taught me.
    Burning Man saved me. Every single person I met was actually interested in what I had to say, they weren’t trying to rush somewhere or pretending to care. People at BM sincerely give a shit. The hardest part for me in the beginning of the week was to just simply let go and trust everyone around me because in society you learn to trust no one. I couldn’t believe that people were just so giving. I have fallen in love with this tradition and I will return to BM every single year; I need it to survive in the world I am forced to live in. BM has given me myself back. I have just grown in a really big way.

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  25. zan Says:

    i actually documented my experience (first burn) from the time i left my house to my ride home, typing little entries on my blackberry (i type faster then i write with my hand)…
    i thought i had only written a little bit here and there, but it turns out there is a LOT…
    it’s long…. but truly articulates my transformation at burning man…
    feel free to read or not.
    it’s just all stream of consciousness, unedited and raw.
    i posted it on a blog, so my family and people that ask “how was it” can read… and see for themselves that there is no short answer.
    http://zaniroberts.blogspot.com/2009/09/burning-man-2009.html

    with gratitude…
    OM peace, zan

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  26. full tilt boogie Says:

    i learned that i need to keep my sword sharp and lower my shield more.

    the more i kick ass the better i become. i have grown as an artist and come to appreciate the smallest detail. i drink life like the finest wine ever fermented.

    hard work is required to make things look easy. kindness is a predisposition but it does not come without judgment.

    peace for the sake of peace is an empty cup. being bothered by something means you are in the game and have a point of view.

    and lastly, true love is found under the worst circumstances.

    -ftb

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  27. Rae Goodridge Says:

    I stepped onto the Playa for the first time this year.

    In what felt like an an instant, I doubted everything and believed in everything I have known or imagined, simultaneously. It was the most resonant emotion I have ever felt, and I will carry it with me forever.

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  28. Kimchi Says:

    It was my first burn and I had the highest high and my lowest low. I am thankful that I was with great people who didn’t judge me or think me bipolar. The desert was a harsh environment and a loving environment at the same time and I have never been faced with so many extremes positive and negative. This taught me to try and stay more in the center and not fall to one end or the other. Life doesn’t have to be an emotional roller coaster…you can just be there and be where you are.

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  29. Danger Doug Says:

    This was my 1st Burning Man and as long as I can breathe it won’t be my last. Finally, an event that I can attend and go back to reality stronger than ever. We live our lives and get slapped, punched, kicked, scorned, ridiculed, harassed, and just get plain ole throttled by the reality that is called life.
    Finally, after 33 years of life I found my calling, my people, my heaven.
    Kindred souls feeding off each other for a common goal that no Burner can describe without having the fortune of attending.
    Unbound unbelievable indescribable unharnessed energy.
    “Wow” moments all day, all night, all week.
    Burning Man is truly ‘heaven in a duststorm’.
    For the first time in my life I can honestly say ‘I felt welcomed home”…

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  30. Heliarc Says:

    Tis is my second year at Burning Man and it’s gold. I found my true love there. Really. And I go high without drugs or alchohol. Really. And found a 24 hour a day adult carnival that is still resonating with me weeks after I’ve returned. I thank the stars the day I decided to go. And I’ll never stop. Never Greatest single experience I’ve known. And I AM changing. Please keep it going. I was a doubter till I arrived two years ago. I am now a disciple. Go. You need to. Go. My mantra to anyone who hasn’t is go. It’s all good.

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  31. Danger Doug Says:

    GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  32. Richard Says:

    I’ve become judgmental.

    I’ve brought Black Rock City manners back home with me. I can’t abide hateful behavior. Also, no vending at dinner parties.

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  33. element Says:

    I brought the playa home in little ways…taking the extra two seconds to pick up MOOP (and reminding others that they should really do the same), having a real conversation with the cashier at the grocery store, gifting little things (lots of fruit, lots of hugs) here and there, and trying to be more actively involved in my own community.

    I don’t know if I’ve ever loved a person or a place as intensely as I did on the playa. I picked up a small paper heart out of the dust wandering the deep playa. A man looked over at me and warned in a quiet voice, “Don’t leave your heart here when it’s time to go.”

    I almost did. Bring your heart between your homes, default or playa, it loves them all.

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  34. Stephen Says:

    The one thing that’s stayed with me since the burn is to have more compassion for myself. The scathing circular thoughts of self-hate and self-criticism have subsided quite a bit since I made it back. I feel dazed and slightly lethargic but it’s better than depression.

    After a particularly insane and slightly traumatic night out on the town and a two hour visit to the med tent I wound up at Sanctuary talking to a counselor for five or six hours. He demonstrated more compassion to me than I ever would have expected from a total stranger. To paraphrase an Eastern religious quote that he told me: Aside for a healthy discipline, be kind to yourself.

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  35. Jed Says:

    What I have learned from Burning Man is there is a fundamental positive creative goodness in people that the event calls out to. Those who can hear that call are the ones who return year after year, like me.

    When I got back home after my 1st burn, I went for a walk in my neighborhood. I came upon a old man working on his flowers and plants in the front of his house. I thought back to walking down the street in BRC and how I complemented people on their camps and instinctively said: “That looks really great.” He lit up like a Christmas tree. For that one instant, I felt like I was back on the Playa.

    It has been seven burns since 2003. I always remind myself how lucky I am to have been able to go and build stuff for BRC. It’s become a part of my life. It is a place of joy and wonder. It is in essense somewhere over the rainbow. The dreams that you dare to dream really do come true. I am very grateful that it came into existence in my lifetime. If there is reincarnation and we really do have multiple life times, I get to say that I was on the earth in the 21 century when they had Burning Man!

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  36. T Daddy Says:

    I learned that I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was. And that my soul craved certain human elements that have been left out of my life for a few years. It wasn’t until I received those elements on the playa that I knew what they were. And as G.I. Joe says, knowing is half the battle.

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  37. Melanie Says:

    I guess when I think about the changes I’ve experienced in my life after my first burn I think about how difficult it was for me to be excited about my current situation. I reevaluated the things that I thought gave me happiness and now know that I am destined in a completely different direction than I had planned before I stepped foot on the playa. My experiences at BM are dear to me; however, the people that I connected with are much more important than what I actually did. The energy I felt and the feeling of being alive and awake was something I hope to instill in my everyday life.
    As things constantly change in my life, the thing BM has taught me the most is that going through change is required but seeing the world in a positive light as you go through this change is the important part. Thank you to all the wonderful people who helped me walk away from this experience speechless.

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  38. Misty Says:

    This year was my first year attending Burning Man and let me tell you IT WON’T BE MY LAST!!!!!! I can’t believe that I have lived so close to the coolest, largest, radical party of the world and I have never gone. Every since it has ended I have thought about it almost every day. It was such a wonderful experiance in my life. It just amazes me how so many people from across the world come here to this small town to just be themselves and do as they please. I can’t wait to see what the futrue burns hold. Now I know what to expect and how to fit in.

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  39. Dangles (AKA - DJ G.Force) Says:

    My 2nd burn. Despite writing a 7 page summary, still decompressing. Last year it took a couple months before the effects wore off. This year, I wonder.

    No epiphany, nor did I find a playa pal or have any “best days of my life.” It was a blur. A hundred mini-vignettes strung together.

    I experienced drug-less hallucinations during the drive home and once back I slept for 18 hours. Toxic dust destroyed my hands and feet. I gagged dry heaves for 2 weeks.

    I tried to participate. I did at our themecamp, but not so much for the rest of the playa. Everything is so overwhelming. Even having been once, NOTHING can prepare you.

    What did I learn? Self reliance is a priority. No second chance for a first impression. Opportunity is more fleeting than imagined. Petty arguments and grudges solve nothing.

    Am I changed? Yes, in ways I’ve yet to fully understand and digest.

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  40. kristin Says:

    i am not afraid anymore. i am not embarrassed anymore. now, i say what i mean and i mean what i say. i am not longer hauling the past around on my back, the memories that haunted me for so long burned with the temple. i have been set free. this was my first burn and it was truly about releasing all the negative toxins that have been clouding me… next year will be about absorbing all the positive. after coming back from the playa i see things clearly, i am calmer… more centered. i say hello to people on the street, i pay compliments to starngers, i care.

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  41. Lisa Says:

    I thought I knew about love. But Burning Man taught me much more. When I went home, an amazing thing happened, I met someone who felt just like me, and we fell in love.

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  42. ZapWestin Says:

    evolution was the name of game. Burning Man didn’t change me, I changed myself because of Burning Man. I’ve found myself so inspired by the creativity around me that I’ve created my own man, from fragments of the burnt man, standing tall in my living room. It reminds me to strive to be who I want to be, not who society wants me to be. Burning Man has helped me truly embrace the best things in my own character, as well as others, and led me to realize my endless potential….all of our endless potential…anything can be done–you just have to do it!

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  43. Issimo Says:

    The past year saw rapid evolution in my life. I decided to retire from teaching after 33 years (bull-headed; make sure everyone else is happy; get it done no matter what) and to treat myself to the biggest change I could find: a ticket to Burning Man.

    Then I got cancer, chemotherapy, my gall bladder came out, a dear friend died of cancer, I unexpectedly reconnected with old friends I hadn’t seen in years, taught my last day, was declared to be in sustained remission and left for the playa.

    My life now revolves around new possibilities, a feeling of freedom, fellowship and a level of selfconciouslessness (!radical vocabulary!) I haven’t felt for decades. I am changed to the core. What happened there wasn’t a stroke of lightning, an epiphany or realization but a natural return to who I was before I left my dreams and embraced the default ‘Ozzie & Harriet’ world.

    I’m on my way! Wherever I am going I am going with my dreams again!
    I met myself after a long, long time away. People at home say I’m more relaxed or ‘something’. I can only smile and say, “Yes, I am!”

    Today I turned the heat on in my truck for the first time this fall and playa dust came blasting out. “Welcome Home!”

    Metropolis can’t come too soon!

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  44. Ariel Says:

    I did my best this year, and it wasn’t enough.

    I had belligerent standards developed from several years of burning.

    I waited for the world to start, instead of starting it myself.

    I met wonderful people, and pedestaled them beyond my worth.

    The daydream of expectations over salted the mystery.

    I met meek people, and hated them for reflecting my own lack of bravery.

    Silence was always walking by my side, whispering I love you.

    So to say it simply, this year I was in a negative space! The night before I left for the playa I cried my eyes out due to personal stresses that had been marching through my life as if they were normal. When I arrived to the burn, instantly as if it were a prescription, my girlfriend and I found a group of the greatest burners I’ve ever met. They were scintillating, vivacious, charming, fuckin groovy and kept an excellent approach to every hour of the day. I think I was present 10% of the week.
    Its difficult to say anything bad about this event, truly. Last year’s burn made me realize that by the next burn I wanted to contribute something amazing. So I left and traveled 5 months in thailand, new zealand, and malaysia going deep into my soul. I had no direction in life anymore. I don’t know why I didn’t get past my sadness this year. I feel like I’m just stick in it still and don’t know how to help myself. Its like wearing a suit of rot; no one wants you at their party. I’d accuse the burning community of not reaching out enough, at all, but it’s everyone’s right to burn as they wish so it’s sort of invalid.

    Please look out for one another. I don’t know why I was so angry.

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  45. Angel Says:

    They call me Angel on the playa.

    There’s something that happens in our community at Black Rock City that I don’t see happen very often. The sense of community there is so strong that it effects you profoundly. I’ve never felt as known and valued for myself as deeply as I do on the playa. I feel myself being seen clearly and loved deeply. When you get together with a few thousand others feeling the same way – damn what a party! (but I digress)

    Because of the community we create on the playa, I can’t help but see myself more clearly and express myself more purely than I usually do anywhere else. In a very deep and practical way, I’m being myself.

    This year I’ve learned that it’s time for me to be “Angel” full time – not just in special circumstances. My work has now begun.

    Full time Angel at your service.

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  46. Nanice Says:

    O.K. I finally admit it; I am a princess. Sure, I’ll go on a good day of “down and dirty” hiking as long as I know the end of the day will be met with a nice hot bubble bath and a glass of good wine, and if I’m really lucky, my bed will be turned down with a carefully placed chocolate truffle awaiting my palette. So, to all those who have been trying to get me to go to Burning Man, for all these years, now you know why I’ve resisted.

    Having said that, one of my dear friends knew my sweet spot and enticed me into going by offering me the opportunity to teach what I love to teach; every Burning Man day! Without this carefully planned out entrapment, I definitely would have canceled at the last minute when a “bug” of some unknown kind brought me to my knees and I spent the four days prior to Burning Man flat on my back.

    But those damn classes made me go; I had a commitment; I had to teach.

    It is no exaggeration to say that I dragged myself out of bed, threw some things in some bags and hoped to be picked up at 4 a.m in the morning, the Saturday before Burning Man was to officially open. I had not even arrived at Burning Man yet and I was already asked to surrender and let go.

    I have to tell you something that few people know about me and that is I have always had a need to go back to a “safe space” at the end of the day; especially challenging days. As a child this meant the comfort of my pink blanky that I called “Skinny Way”; not sure why, so don’t ask. As I got older, it meant my comfy bed, bedroom or home depending on my current living conditions at that particular time. The need for this “safe space” at the end of the day only intensified after I spent several months homeless in the winter of 1979/80 in the unforgiving New York climate. Somehow my boyfriend’s Gran Torino or the basement of the pizza parlor I lived in didn’t qualify as that “safe space”.

    In all honesty, it is not the chocolate truffles, hot bath or comfy comforter that appeals to me so much, they are all just symbols of that “safe space” where I can just let go and completely surrender. But, you probably already figured that out; clever, you are!

    As I arrived at Burning Man on Saturday, just as the sun was setting, a wind storm marked my arrival. Feeling helpless to even take my new tent out of the Walmart box, I was relieved to have a group of kind loving friends, both old and new, jump to the occasion and effortlessly create my new home out of plastic sticks and thin nylon. With the inflation of my new mattress and a clean sheet, I actually did remember to pack from home, I settled in. This would have to be my “safe space” for the next nine days. I took a deep breath and tried to convince myself that it really would act as the “sacred space” I needed to “unwind,” let go and prepare myself for the following day; especially since I needed to be prepared to teach every day.

    I was told that the wind storms sometimes take down tents, and even though I was aware of that danger, I was extremely surprised when, on the first day, my tent went down like a tornado hit it! I think one did! Now, this probably doesn’t seem too exceptional to experienced burners except my tent was the ONLY ONE to really bite the dust (excuse the pun) in our entire camp; and the surrounding camps for that matter; I checked! In fact, I’m willing to stake a bet, that my tent was the worst hit of all tents in the entire Burning Man community!!!!

    Lucky for me, my beautiful and generous friend, Janus, got out the duck tape and metal supports and put my tent back together. After 2 hours of diligent repair, I’m sure he was just a little discouraged when the tent was hit by another wind storm just hours later; again breaking more supports and demolishing it to its knees; I realize that tents don’t really have knees, but if they did…..

    My tent was so broken that when the wind blew, the only way to get inside was to crawl on hands and knees and use my butt to push it up enough so that I could get into my suitcase or crawl onto my now half filled air mattress.

    By this point, no one volunteered to help fix my tent; although no one openly spoke about this dark truth, my newly purchased Walmart tent was a goner. Just to add insult to injury, the tent that was directly behind mine was the same exact tent; do I have to tell you that it was in perfect tip-top shape!

    It appears that once a tent breaks, due to the stress and strain, it becomes impossible to zip up the door or windows and even the ones that were closed pop open. This wouldn’t be a terrible problem except each wind storm generously deposited more and more sand and dust inside my tent. By the third day, I understood what “out door living” really meant. You know that it is bad when you have to leave your tent to get out of the dust.

    I spent the first couple of days fighting for my “safe space” but as it soon became apparent that I would not win this fit, I began to surrender. Somehow I went from someone who has to change their clothes three times a day in order to feel clean and good, to someone who slept in their clothes (under 3 inches of dust and sand; I measured) and brushed their teeth with some tooth paste smeared on their dirty index finger, without water; yes I swallowed. When I did change my clothes, I either had to do it publicly outside the tent, or sit on the floor of my tent and scoot my bare dusty bottom into some dirty dusty pants. I soon discovered that peppermint moisturizer can take the place of a shower, but make sure it soaks in before the next wind storm hits.

    I knew that I had somehow let go of the four-decade-old need for my “safe space”, when I woke up one morning 15 minutes before the start of a class I was teaching. In the past, my personal and hygienic preparation before teaching was of the utmost importance, so when I rolled out of my tent and went to teach a dome full of people about manifesting abundance, without much care for my personal presentation, I knew I was cured. It was a bit difficult to hold a full bladder for two hours, however.

    You might be wondering what my personal presentation has to do with that “safe space”.

    The truth that I discovered was that the “safe space” was really so much more than a “safe space” in the outside world, it was a “safe space” in my inside world, as well; one that required conditions and those conditions included how I looked, how I felt, how I presented myself and simply feeling comfortable in my own skin; literally.

    Somehow Burning Man stripped away both the internal and external “safe spaces” and I was left bare and vulnerable with no place to hide, recoup or even get my bearings.

    A funny thing happened in the rawness of who I am; I discovered that the “safe space” did not really keep me safe at all. The “safe space” simply kept me separate.

    It’s been over a week since returning from Burning Man and it’s really good to brush my teeth with water and a tooth brush, actually shower and shave my legs in a humane way and sleep in a bed that doesn’t require a shovel to get in and out of, but the best part of all, is that I am no longer in search or need or that “safe space”. I am that space; and I am safe.

    Bliss,
    Nanice
    Global Facilitator of Peaceful Awakening, Theta Healer,
    Life Coach, Author, Voice for World Oneness
    “Only Love is Real”

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  47. Leona Says:

    I completely appreciate the Burning Man Festival.

    Burning Man helped re-ignite my enthusiasm and excitement for life. It has helped me remember who I am and to truly believe, in my heart, that I can do anything. Its a wonderful thing to really feel and truly know, from the core of my being, that anything outside of me has no power or control over me whatsoever – We are all the warriors of our own lives!

    Burning Man has made me really look at myself and see that we are, both as individuals and a collective, really strong and courageous. This was my first burn and when I saw the playa at night for the first time, I looked around at this beautiful glowing city and felt a huge sense of relief…NOW I have arrived on planet earth! This is the time to be alive! I am so relieved that there ARE lots of people, just like me in the world, who want to make a difference and create a beneficial present and an even better future. Such a sweet feeling!

    I am so excited about how I am putting these feelings into practice on a daily basis. Life keeps on getting better. I can still feel my first step on the playa, the anticipation on the night ahead at sunset and the complete feeling of unity that I shared with everyone at Burning Man.

    Big love to you all and keep shining your light!

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  48. Colinski Says:

    So, I haven’t yet attended Burning Man but had the opportunity to be a part of the first two Afrika Burns, the South African Burning Man. For as long as I, or my friends, could remember I was incredibly jittery and would jerk away any time anyone tried to touch me. Somehow this trait, which had followed me from childhood to early adulthood disappeared in the space of 4 days. It was really incredible. When I tell the story to people now they usually respond with, ‘Dude, you’re such a hugger’. Its weird to think that I wasn’t and I’m glad that change has stuck with me two years after my first burn. See you all in Black Rock City next year!
    Peace and Love
    Colinski

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  49. Jeffz Says:

    When I entered the gates for my first Burn I was handed a post card to write down my hopes for that year. I wrote , “To find a sense of purpose and focus”. I had not for 37 years just going through life, sure being nice and contributing to society and having great adventures but not having an overall focus to my life for many years. Soon after leaving BRC I have a focus and have rediscovered myself as an artist. For the first time in my life I know what I want to be when I grow up and just want to create things with eventually supporting myself doing so.

    Returning to BM every other year or so helps me maintain that focus by burning away excess baggage I carry in Life and that is priceless for me.

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  50. j gavin heck Says:

    gave me a place to mourn (and burn) my father.
    taught me about art that can be built without the limitation of the gallery door.
    taught me that love means something different to californians :P

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  51. Rev. SB Zed Grafing Says:

    I look back at who I was the day I entered the gates for the first time and in many ways that man has become a stranger to me. I cannot say that every change has been outwardly positive, for as we evolve over time sometimes the resolve we come away with creates ripples; decisions we make in that crucible affect others and in turn causes an ever-expanding circle of change.

    I have let go of much of the burden I allowed myself to carry throughout my life. I have given myself the freedom to walk down a path I had not believed I could, and in turn given others freedom to walk down their own path. They may not have felt ready to walk it themselves… ripples of change.

    How have I changed since the time in the desert? Completely.

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  52. Buzz Says:

    This was my 4th burn. I’m a burner4life for sure, but every year has brought new perspectives and deeper transformations.

    This year I talked with a guy from Amsterdam. He was learning Tarot and read my chart or whatever from memory. Now mind you, in the default world I’m one of those super logical geeks, but on the Playa, I accept what happens for what it is. He said that, basically, I have much power, but I prevent myself from using it, and I need to give myself permission. Well, it’s true, and I’m starting to learn how to make use of my power, for the good of others and myself.

    The only one stopping me from experiencing happiness is myself. Give yourself permission to feel joy and you will start to feel it.

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  53. Doc Carny Says:

    How has Burning Man changed me? It’s shown me that my contributions are important. I’m not disposable, I can make a difference. The actions I take have a direct influence on those around me, even those that I think are inconsequential.

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  54. The word is YES Says:

    Burningman saved my life, literally and figuratively. I could write volumes but to cut to the chase, sort of, here goes. A ten year Burner, it took 7 Burns to get to the point of recognizing the absolute need to change my life. Those first years were absolutley amazing, showing me a path I had always known was there, but didn’t know how to access. I was a liberal hippie at heart, living a traditional American life with two amazing kids and a wife who couldn’t move from her view of the “safe and secure” narrow world of her upbringing. Being successful in many aspects of my life couldn’t make up for living someone elses life. When you mate expressess contempt for everything you hold dear what do you do. You embrace the tenets of radical self-expression and reliance. You bring as much of the Burning Man ethics as you can into your life so you can survive the hells of a dysfunctional relationship and life. When thoughts of suicide started to creep in, Burning Man showed me the path to changing my life. 2006 was the year. A year of utter hell and utter cathasis. Divorce happened, a new job happened, a new place to live evolved. My mother died.
    I was finally able to spend time in the Temple. I’ve always loved the structures, the art, the concept of love that goes into the design and building. But I always found myself unable to tolerate the amazing love and grief that filled me every time I ventured there. I could never stay too long before tears started. I always left.
    In 2006, I made a memorial for my mother and placed it on Tuesday. By Thursday, part had blown away with the winds. How appropriate. As I sat there listening to a trio playing sacred music I was finally able to cry. A stranger placed a hand on my shoulder as I sobbed and it was good.
    I met an amazing woman, who has embraced the concepts and life of a Burner with all her heart. Karma has brought my life full circle with an amazing relationship and a passion for life filled with open and honest communication and love.
    We joined a new camp this year, the Vomiting Sparrows. Spending time with this amazing group has shown me I’ve come full circle. I had become jaded.
    This group of creative, enthusiastic Burners has shown me that I had forgotten to embrace the wonders of many aspects of Black Rock Citty. I had become more of a camp rat. Part of it was lethargy. Part too much smoke, part just age. NO MORE!! I continue to focus on building community and family in all I do when in the default world. This coming Burn, my focus will switch to focusing on my new camp mates. I can’t wait!!
    Burning Man changed my life. I truly believe Burning Man saved my life. Grateful doesn’t even begin to touch my emotions.

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  55. Regyna Longlank Says:

    This burn brought me full circle. It’s hard to describe the closing of that loop but I felt it and knew it was good. It was my sixth year so apparently with number seven I will begin again, in a new way. I could never imagine being in Black Rock City without the support and infrastructure of the big camp I’ve been in so far. Next year I go solo and see what a less cushy burn is like. I’m ready, it’s what I need, and I’m excited to see what I can create for myself.

    The biggest change for me this year though was finally realizing I can integrate what I love about BRC into my default life in ways I had never imagined possible. The default has been modified. I know I will be happy to go next year but it won’t be because I can finally after a year get what I am missing, it will be to share what I bring. I don’t have to move to the food, I am the food! Ok, see, I told you it was hard to describe. :) I’ll leave you with a quote from a wise woman I once knew. It’s not the straw you miss, it’s the food. You’re aching for the container, you have the contents already in you.

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  56. andrew winfree Says:

    this was my second burn. I learned so much, the most important thing i learned is that the human race might have a chance as long as we try to be civil to one another, and are open to change in ourselves and others. love you guys see you in 2010

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  57. SMO Says:

    The best playa gift ever to my love and me on our 7th burn… I’m pregnant! : )

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  58. Alon Zehavi Says:

    I saw it on Saturday morning. Can’t really explain or tell, but it was there.
    Just when the first rays of an amazing sunrise fell on the mountains on my left, just after the green laser beam disappeared with the curve of earth, with the music at the back of my brain, with all those beautiful people around me, and with the big smile from across the playa – it was there.
    I never felt the way I did that morning. Shall I call it euphoria? This guy came up to me, gave me a big hug and whispered “Good to be home again, eh?”, and I couldn’t agree more.

    I’m not that kind of spiritual guy, I’m defiantly not religious, but the energy in the air on that morning – it was like seeing god. I don’t know which god was it, and it doesn’t matter really, but it seems like everybody around me felt it. There was no need to talk, people just smiled to each other in disbelief, nodding as if they all agree how magical it was.
    That guy with a can of beer in his hand just mumbled `it is just ridiculous how good it feels`, and it was indeed.

    The desert can be very mystical sometimes, spiritual for sure. I was standing there with tears in my eyes, grabbing my head and just looking around me. Facing all these unexplained natural forces – The wind, the sun, the fire, the heat. And all this time the big smile from across the playa was there too. Like a guardian angel smiling at me. I didn’t know his name, there was no need to talk to him really, but I felt pure love like I never felt before.

    I will never forget that morning. I will never forget those 3 minutes when the sky turned from black into purple, red, orange, yellow and finally into blue. I will never forget the mountains, oh the mountains, and the shadows playing games all over them. I will never forget the playa dust all around me, getting into my eyes and nostrils.

    I saw it on Saturday morning. I don’t know to tell what was it, but it was there.

    I would like to thank the Spirit Wind cafe – the best coffee on the playa.
    I would like to thank the guy with the wet towel who refreshed my days.
    I would like to thank the pancake place around the corner.
    I would like to thank AEZ camp for the sun-cooked hot dogs.
    I would like to thank the Deep End and Opulent Temple for endless moments of dancing.
    I would like to thank Pavel for the smile.
    I would like to thank that girl who turned up with Ben&Jerry`s Vanilla tubes on that morning.

    I would like to thank all of you for being there, old and new friends – you all made it such a brilliant experience. Again.

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  59. Moonjob Says:

    I turned 30 on the playa the night the man burned. I was able to work out some demons that night, burning down the past in my mind, everything I ever was, all the anger I harbored, all the personalities I’d outgrown, the changes of my physical body, hopes, fears. Then, looking out around me at the blank canvas of the desert, I was acutely aware and thankful of the fact that we can burn ourselves down, and from those ashes, return to our core selves, love and be loved, and create our lives in the present moment.

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  60. Bogie Says:

    I had no idea that Burning Man would change me so much-honestly my twenties would have been so much happier if I had discovered the playa. Because of Burning Man I’ve met my wife, made life long friends and shed a looming unhappiness.
    It makes me laugh when I hear old timers complain that the burn isn’t as good as it used to be when I just had my best year yet and that was #7. The magic that is created there has permeated my every day life and I’m a better person for it. Burning Man gives me hope for humanity.

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  61. Cristina Says:

    My first burn has made me even more open minded and I have come to love myself more. I have also come to greatly appreciate the female form and human nature (my! How you learn to believe in patience and the craziness of mother nature during the dust storms and the sudden temperature changes.)

    I met some of the kindest and most amazing people this year, at my first burn. Anytime I asked someone a question, I was taken aback by how nice they were to me and in turn, I would pass this same kindness on to the next person.

    I have also come to realize that you do not need to rely on other people and that you should do more things for yourself for the things you do will affect your life the greatest. I did not see nearly enough sunrises as I would have liked but I will change that next year for sure!

    I also learned that I really need to go to burning man at the beginning of the week, not Thursday evening. I was working at a temp job when Wednesday night, I decided an hour and a half before I left, to go to Burning Man with a friend of mine. I got replaced at my temp gig but I would never trade my time at Burning Man for anything in this world.

    I feel I am also calmer and have a better perspective of the world in doing so. I am looking to continue this inner peace feeling and hope to make it last until I can replenish at next year’s Burning Man.

    May life bring you love and peace to you all. Much love.

    Cristina

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  62. Storyboy Says:

    “Look kindly in the mirror,”
    An old friend said to me,
    “For the eyes that you bring there with you
    Color everything you see.”

    I’ve thought about it often since,
    And still it makes me cry.
    But since that Black Rock Night,
    I’ve found a softer eye.

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  63. The rocket man... Says:

    The adventures and experiences that occurred at BURNING MAN were a strong catalyst, and an inspiration to OUR ENTIRE CAMP. They were SO POWERFUL, and SO TRULY AWE-INSPIRING, and OUR SOULS WERE TOUCHED SO DEEPLY, and SO COMPLETELY – that when it was over – WE KNEW for a fact – WE WOULD NEVER BE QUITE THE SAME AGAIN – EVER!

    And that’s how “The Playa” works it magic, IT CHANGES PEOPLE, but sometimes only in subtle ways – and IT CAN CHANGE YOU TOO, if you let it.

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  64. Oso Says:

    I’d been fascinated by The Burning Man Festival since I discovered it about 5 years ago, and had been actively planning to go there for the past 3 years. I finally made it – and upon arrival, what I discovered was far more intense, meaningful, transforming and exciting than what I had imagined it would be. It’s a dream within a dream, but so real that it’s clearly not an illusion.

    Burning Man is a one week experience… and this experience of new-found freedom includes radical self expression and radical self-reliance. But the beauty is that I was sharing the experience with over 40,000 others. It takes most people a few minutes (I’m slow – it took me a few hours) to realize that everyone there is equal – there is unconditional acceptance and respect for each person no matter what age or appearance. We all know how much effort it took, how hard it was to make it to this event.

    This is a culture of sharing and gifting… and there’s an unbelievable feeling of community as a result. Burning Man is an ideal place for self-reflection and self-transformation, and the experience expanded my horizons, revealed new possibilities, and made me question the assumptions that most of us make about how we’re supposed to live our lives.

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  65. Za-hai Says:

    I spent my burn alone. At my first Burning Man. This is not a complaint, merely an observation, to perhaps give you an idea of why I have such mixed feelings about Burning Man. When I returned home after the Burn my friends and family immediately wanted to know how it was.

    “Well, I had fun, but I don’t think I’d go again.”

    “Oh so you hated it then?” (Smugly self-satisfied)

    “No! I just don’t know if I’d go again…I did have fun!”

    Though, truth be told, in a way I did hate Burning Man a little. I was horridly sick the entire time, yes, probably swine flu. And boy let me tell you, it’s pretty horrible. The Playa is not a forgiving place to come down with the flu.. Fever for days, painful hacking cough, and glass in my throat. Oh, and lonely. Surrounded by thousands of people, and yet achingly alone. It’s not that I camped by myself, we were a rather large camp, but I would retire to my shade structure, my mouse-hole, tired and ill. Don’t get me wrong though I’m not writing this to complain. In fact, in spite of myself, I loved it. I loved the authenticity of it, the energy and creativity and LIFE! That to me is what Burning Man was, life uninhibited. The more I write and think about Burning Man the more I want to go again, to go when I have the energy to throw myself out there and experience. Burning Man was a lucid dream, I stood apart, a quiet remote figure watching the bright play of humanity spill across the pale curtain of the playa. Even being unable to experience the multitude that Burning Man had to offer I learned that I am quite capable, even if I am lonely, of surviving by myself. And though it sounds like an oxymoron because he didn’t come to the playa with me, it also showed me how much I treasure, adore and care for my fiancée. I learned that I CAN be artistic, a handyman (yeah shade structure, I’m talking to you), and anything else I feel like being. I love the desert because I feel like it was such a pure landscape. I imagine the landscape of the moon is much like the playa: an eerie empty place full of lonely winds and distant peaks. Though perhaps Mars complete with Martians and a lovely exotic city is a more appropriate description than the empty moon. But in my faulty fever burned memory the images that catch in my mind are the lonesome ones. People, rocket ships, and giant fish flitting in and out of the hazy dust storms. Watching the temple burn, my twin and I stood, baptized by smoke tornados and ember fireflies. I loved the ride on the Space Wench into the deep desert where the infinite eternal stars twinkled and I could look back on a wildly-lit tent city that would blow away in a week’s time. There is something pure and unadulterated about Burning Man I feel like I need to go back and not just dip my toes in but dive into head first. Burning Man helped me realize I was watching my life go by instead of being in it, and because of this I have started to “do” instead of just “be”…

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  66. Topher's Bride Says:

    I don’t think it’s so much what I took away from Burning Man as much as what I left behind at Burning Man.

    I left behind fear of being rejected. I left behind what other people think of me. I left their rules and their demands. I left their amoral treatment of my marriage. I broke free of the suffocation, the dictatorship and the lies and the duplicity. I left their secrets, their gossip and their own hatred of each other behind.

    I agree with my friend’s post…I am the food. And so I will close with this quote and hope that anyone out there that surrounds themselves with toxic people just so they won’t be alone out there will read this and *get* it…

    “A wise person makes their own decisions. An ignorant person just follows public opinion.”

    Burning Man is all about self expression and once a handful of people start to *control* your burn and dictate who can and who can *not* be a part of your experience…well, then it might be time for you to move on like I did :)

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  67. Nate Says:

    8 year burner. Burningman is my annual reminder that i’m a happier person in a place where I have to ride a bike to take a crap.

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  68. Miki Says:

    This years burn really hit home for me. I cannot even EXPRESS how pivotal it was for me to go this year. Last year was my first year and you can bet that I was prancing along the playa like a prisoner finally escaping and seeing the sky for the first time in years.

    This year was a bit more spiritually deep for me.

    I explored the art, went out on my own, met some great people who helped make this whole experience possible and I found myself. It was a raw and awakening experience this year than it was my first.

    There were a lot of things I wanted to let go of this year at the temple. One was the emotional baggage of losing my mom, my best friend, 5 years ago. It still feels like yesterday and yes I blamed myself for losing her but not after the burn. I let it go. I told her that I loved her at the temple and not to worry and then I walked away. I watched it burn. It was so invigorating.

    For about six months, my brother had been taking care of my grandmother, who had raised him growing up. She was deathly ill and a month before BM she finally passed by his side. He didn’t think he would be able to make BM this year because he wanted to take care of her. He was alittle bit in a funk the first couple days but finally spread his wings when he decided to mentally let her go.

    The biggest part that Burning Man played was when I got back. The very next day, I wake up for the first time in my own bed and hear that my grandfather shot himself. My mom was my grandfathers shining light, my grandmother was always his rock, and they had both passed. I was shocked, in tears, at first. We arranged the funeral at the Oregon coast, where we used to play as kids. It felt good. We were all laughing and jumping in the water. Since the experience was so fresh in my memory I was able to see the brighter side of things.

    I feel like if all these events had taken place without BM I wouldn’t have been so strong. I wouldn’t have any fond memories to cloud the bad ones. I would still have baggage.

    The spirit lives through you, I say. You see the light in things you never thought you would before. Burning Man was my savior.

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  69. sparkle Says:

    BM reminded me to smile :)

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  70. LaCyclone of G-ville Says:

    I attended BRC 5 years in a row and forced myself to skip one year and spend that time with loved ones and do things that I would normally do during that two week period on the Playa. I was afraid that the desert would become mundane. someday. Well attending this year I am here to say that it only gets better. Of course every year I say the same ole thing, “It was the best ever”, no year is the same. I have kept a diary and suggest to all the newbies, start writing for yourself as this is part of our lives that we will never want to forget. My beautiful adult daughter has always asked me “why would you want to live that life style”? Well, I am proud to say, I was a very nice person before my 1st time in 2003 and I truly learned to LIVE THE PLAYA ALL YEAR LONG. I seem to attract the best people now in my life and I do not fear the negative ones. I gift them myself as a fellow citizen and open and show them the best. Hopefully, they take what they like and mirror the best to others. Our spirits are more alive and full as I have read above in all the comments. After all these years my daughter now wants to go as I think she sees her mom for what I have always been, but Better and Consistant…

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  71. Rikki Tree Says:

    Our two-week journey encompassed the gamut, from the 6 hour line early Monday morning, to a serious illness resulting in our campmate being taken to Reno in an ambulance, to the Burn, to the Temple, to the following Monday’s 2 hour Exodus. The thumping techno lulled me to sleep every night and accompanied my emboldened explorations around the city. I climbed on things, I fought with things, I sung with people, I laughed and cried more openly and honestly than I ever had. I ate better, drank less, and experienced the week sober. I danced often and freely. I jump-roped for the first time in 30 years. I danced to Depeche Mode with a hundred other devotees. I went to Costco and found Bob from Mootopia. Merlin and Eliah and Bruce and Burner Dave and Aldon and Lana and Gonzalo and Arran and Reddick and Jono. I kissed a girl under The Man while we cried about Pink and Purple Puddles. I cheered the Stormtroopers in Thunderdome.

    2009 was my first burn, coinciding with my 40th birthday, my son’s graduation from high school, and serious consideration to leave a much disliked decade-long stint with my employer. 2009 is a year that is unfolding around an innovative stab at a community farm market in my small Ohio village, witnessing my first attempts at sewing jazzy retro clothstuffs, and jumping full-on into arc- and MIG welding. It’s a year of making meaningful and healthy human connections, getting my body physically healthy — and hopefully my mind will follow.

    I learned how to change my lexicon from “I don’t know how” and “I can’t” to realizing that I know I can; there really are no limits to my world except my own self-imposed ones. I pledged to bring my self-revalations home, make them mine, and return to the playa again in 2010.

    I realized that no matter how many pictures I take, or how many times I remember or talk about my experience, my stories are one of a 43,000 strong community – that my story doesn’t exist without theirs, and theirs don’t exist without mine. We have made this community our own. And all of us are taking it back to our other lives… critical mass is at work here.

    Burning Man affirmed that I do indeed have a voice of my own, even though it has, through the years, been dust-covered by the oft-martyred acts of marriage and parenting. The playa winds have begun to blow that away, replacing it with a creative voice of self-empowerment.

    With peace, and true hope…

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  72. Kat Says:

    I have just finished reading the page of comments and realise I need to spend an evening writing my on own blogsite about Burning Man. There have been a few tear-jerking moments as I’ve read of other people’s experiences and I realise that I have not yet taken the time to really reflect on how Burning Man has changed me. I think maybe this is because so many other things have been happening over the last few months and I can’t really pinpoint how I have changed letalone what things have changed what part of me.

    But what I know for sure is that, this being my first burn, and a time to share with some of my dearest friends in the world that I had been apart from for about 10 months prior to the event, has made me realise I love and miss them a lot more than I knew. What had become the norm for me was about a quest of going it alone in a world-travelling expedition and Burning Man has thrown all that not just upside down but spiralling in all directions of confusion.

    Like I said, I need to sit down and write a proper blog about this.

    I am now in New Zealand, a country full of people creating independent communities and loving each other, it’s where I spent most of the last 10 months before Burning Man. So the idea and feeling of community was already a big part of my life.

    But as to which community to be a part of? Well the whole human race is a community and yet sometimes can feel so lonely to be a part of. I was so overwhelmed by the size of Burning Man and it wasn’t until I realised to focus on the smallest community and build outwards – ie. the close friends and people I was camped with and next to – that things started to feel settled for me. So perhaps this is the focus for me to look for now and to spread to others – or perhaps looking to the community within my own heart.

    This isn’t proving to be very concise, I apologise. Burning Man was EPIC – that was my word of the week. I had several moments of the most beautiful ecstatic crying episodes of my life. I think I need to revisit those parts of me and reflect some more…..

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  73. Megan Says:

    Getting ready for my fourth burn, there was a prospective first timer camp mate who was having a rough time and couldn’t quite decide whether she would come or not. We’d not even managed to meet or even speak. She was just a name on an email list.

    With the world seeming to be falling down around her shoulders, she emailed, “Should I even try to go this year? Maybe it’s too much.”

    I thought about how I could explain to her what she would be missing, what this experience could be, and I couldn’t. The details are almost too much, because for everyone it’s different and often unexpected. My second burn led me to my lifetime love, a new country and language, nothing that I went there hoping to find. Instead of writing her my story, my reasons, my experience, I sent just one short reply.

    “Don’t think, just come. It will change your life.”

    Years later, as we were following a bus across the dark playa, dancing over the patterns the disco ball reflection made in the dust, she came up and whispered those two sentences in my ear. Words I had completely forgotten I’d written. She thanked me and added,

    “That was made me come, and it did.”

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  74. dino boy Says:

    …… I know i’m sentimental, but the burn family are some of the best people on earth….

    this is about the most apt thing i could find for Burning Man… (substitute God for love, peace, sunshine, what ever your personal hit… for me it’s Love.)

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

    Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

    We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

    As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    till 2010.. shine on kids!!

    xx

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  75. Vanja Says:

    ,,,,to leave the Real World behind,,,for going back to the artificial,,,was everything but easy. It was not so much of a CHANGE inside me ,,,,as it was a GROWTH.
    I will do my best to bring my sister,Eva, my Mother,Annette and my father Jozsef with me next year,
    as I would like to introduce them to an experience I wish every soul would have the chance to feel,,,live,,,To show your deepest nakedness,,,,strip the layers of pollution that we tend to dress us with as we go through Life,,,,
    Definitely a ticket for my wonderful boyfriend ,Stefano,so he can get the same chance as I`ve got to get in touch with our inner most journey,,,
    Thank You All !!! I Love you !!!!!!!

    MAKE LOVE TO LIFE

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  76. Phil Steele Says:

    Burning Man changed my life in a very practical way. Of course, like most people writing here, I experienced the benevolence, camaraderie, and generous community spirit found on the playa, and I was profoundly affected by that. But I also enjoyed a much more concrete benefit: Burning Man gave me a second career.

    Before arriving the playa, I never had much interest in photography. But the mind-boggling and eye-pleasing treats of the playa re-awakened an old love of the visual arts in me, and I started shooting photos with my little point-and shoot digital camera. When one of my early shots, got favorable attention online, it inspired me to try a little harder. So each year, I came with better equipment, and got a little more serious about taking photos.

    As my reputation for playa photography grew, I started getting asked to shoot events and portraits in my home town, and occasionally even getting paid for it. That led to buying better camera gear, which led to better playa photography.

    Now, after eight years of trying just a little harder each year, my Burning Man photos have appeared in art galleries and magazines, and I have a second business as a photographer.

    I want to thank all of you who have posed for my lens, or created stunning art, or provided the smiles and laughter that keep me coming back year after year.

    You can see my Burning Man Photos at my website:
    http://www.burnmonkey.com/

    Phil Steele

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  77. mina Says:

    i learned life is not just about giving,its give and take

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  78. Bibi Says:

    At Burningman I got to know Josh, and now we have a baby boy!

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  79. Just So Sluttty Magillacutty Says:

    Imagine yourself at a funeral with someone that gives a REALLY moving eulogy. You look down at your watch and realize the date is Dec 12 2045. And it was you they were eulogizing. You approach the speaker and whisper into his mind all that you learned, did, and experienced at Burningman. Your words flow though his tongue and to all your loved ones.

    Guess what. Its not 2045

    So stop what you are doing, and start making the list of the things you are going to whisper into his mind.

    Well what maybe better is take the list with you for the next 35 Burningman’s to keep adding to it.

    Or better still live the burningman experience everyday and let everyone you know about it and noone will need to say much when you pass because they will know how you lived each moment.

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  80. Naniagan Says:

    I learned to more then then I already do …In a way I ‘m not sure how to explain but to trust the universe more then ever………And It is working.

    I suggest you do the same……..Trust me.
    Big Love
    Naniagan

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  81. The Free Radical Says:

    It took me a long time to figure out what to write. I could list a thousand little changes or things I do differently, but those would all be on the surface. When I think of the deepest, most fundamental change I’ve experienced since first being at Burning Man, it is the inner knowledge that I am creating my own experience of life.
    Nowhere else am I so aware of infinite possibility. Knowing you can do anything there gives one the idea that you can do anything anywhere, It’s one thing to know intellectually that you can do anything, but another to feel it, and to experience it. Our lives are literally created by our thoughts, desires, fears, perception. It takes patience and practice to change one’s reality but it is a skill we all possess. The more you do it the easier and more natural it becomes. The fear associated with taking on so much power slowly starts to dissolve…

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  82. Promise Says:

    Like many, many before me, and many, many after me, I will now break down one redhead’s adventure of camping alone, in the desert. If you are not interested/may be offended/don’t have the time, skip now, and come back later. If you have a passing interest, nay, a pea pod, stick around, and I’ll make it worth your while.

    Warning off*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I wrote quite a bit about the whole pre/during/post playa experience, but the two things that stand out most was volunteering, and camping among strangers, hence, my neighbors. Here is a snippet-

    Volunteering

    I wanted to really be a citizen of the city this year, and see more of the back scenes of how the city worked. Wasn’t exactly ready to commit a full week, but still, help out in an area I wouldn’t normally think of. I managed to get in a Playa Info shift, an Airport shift, and attempted Greeters (went out there and everything), but it was Annual Naked Day, and this fair skinned bloom can’t go naked on the playa. I’ll faint. I had also volunteered to bring fresh veggies for a potluck later in the week, as well as work an Information Booth on the Playa (see previous blog re. Info Booth) but the Info booth never happened due to a spontaneous wedding.

    The potluck saw the arrival of my veggies, but not me for another hour, as I was delayed across town.

    So what of the successful ventures? Playa Info and the Airport?

    FANTABULO-WONDERAWE-TASTIC-NESS.

    Neighbors

    Where I ended up camping was between 3 large camps,.One was the Flying Spaghetti Monster Temple (Ren Faire folks from all over CA), what I’ve been calling the Urban Planners(based in SF), even though they are not, and the Veteran Burners (not sure where they are from). I was welcomed, embraced, fed, loved, hugged, adored, and trusted by so many of them with their thoughts and hopes. I CHERISH my experience with them. I tried to give as good as I got, in hopes that it would continue an infinity loop of Love in the universe. Diva the hookah and I ended up with the Veteran Burners one afernoon, and they made me a TIARA. Good Lord in Heaven!

    Here’s the links, if you want to read the full story!

    Learning you about it–
    http://mylittlepail.com/weekly-specialburning-man-art-festival/

    Getting ready to go–

    http://mylittlepail.com/weekly-special-burning-man-freakout/

    The Full Post Review–
    http://mylittlepail.com/post-burning-man-report-the-redhead-review/

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  83. Marc Moss Says:

    My first burn was amazing. Tried to capture it in words here:

    http://www.marcmoss.net/2009/11/30/burning-man-decompression/

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  84. Newagetecnohippie Says:

    I went to burning man last year for the first time to go to the temple because there was someone in my life that i couldnt let go of, someone that i needed to let go of but didnt know how. When i came back i had achieved what i set out to do, but i gained so much more. I realized who i was, i realized that i was strong, that my life was not so insignificant and that i am one amazing person. I went to burning man to forgive myself and the person i lost and in the midsts of it all i found out who i really was. Burning man changed my life, there is magic on the playa. Burning man is not some drug filled party out in the desert, its a place that reveals who you really are.

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