The Pffffft Principle vs. The Playa

It is so hard to explain how The Playa can change your life. For me, a huge part of it was finding a community of people who would support and encourage my creative impulses. In a world of voices that say, “pfffft” and roll their eyes at anything outside the norm, it can be downright transformative to be told, “YES! Be You… and do it LOUD.”

As we prepare for another magical year in the dust, thank you in advance for singing your heartsong, and encouraging me to sing mine.

Last year I hosted a talk about this topic in the middle of a Tuesday duststorm on the Playa:

*I’ll be hosting HugNation on the Playa this year again on Tuesday. And again, with a Pink Ride, on Thursday. Join us!

**NOTE: I AM NOT AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF BURNING MAN. I am merely a Participant with a passion for the event, people, and principles of Burning Man. Half-baked ideas & views expressed aren’t necessarily those of the Burning Man organization.” **

About the author: John "Halcyon" Styn

Halcyon is a 18-year Burning Man participant and founder of Pink Heart camp. He is author of "Love more. Fear less." and producer of the Burning Man short film, "The Pink Path." He's won Webby awards for his over-the-top personal site & his "Love On Demand" video podcast He hosted the defunct web series "Fears. Regrets. Desires." and frequently speaks about Gratitude & Gifting. In 2010, Halcyon co-founded the San Diego based "1st Saturdays" homeless outreach program based on Burning Man Principles and the idea of "Service Without Sacrifice." You can find his digital home at

17 thoughts on “The Pffffft Principle vs. The Playa

  • The last couple of weeks i’ve had the feeling that i might need to skip the playa this year. This video just snapped me out of the funk, the funk that is the layers of “shoulds” piling up on top of me. I’ll be there. Thank you for posting this today…right now…. it was exactly what i needed… and my 2012 burning man adventure has officially begun.

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  • “finding a community of people who would support and encourage my creative impulses. ”

    it’s the trait of narcissists to lull you into believing your part of the group and involved in something bigger than yourself. that’s when the narcissists stab you in the back for a little bit of social gain.

    watch your back and don’t make this so-called community your whole life.

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  • What is it about naysayers and party poopers like Mika? Maybe you need to find another muse, as you seem stuck in ripping on this one.

    The world is full of people, good and bad. Burning man is no different. Wwe get out of it what we put into it. We all have issues, but our intentions are what is important.

    Burning Man has helped me to learn many things. After 7 years i am still learning and growing. This may be my last year, or it may not. Only time will tell.

    American society wants me to fit in a small box. Burning Man reminds me that WE decide what society is, not the other way around. Only WE can change it for the better, and sometimes that will be difficult.

    Mika, i’m sorry your experiences at BRC have left you unfulfilled. Hopefully you can gravitate towards those activities that empower you in other ways.

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  • burning man has a higher concentration of narcissists per capita than all the members of SAG. the so-called culture is a plague to humanity, and they’re trying to make it spread in some kind of demented ‘movement’. WTF!?

    we can only hope that the BLM soon puts an end to this pathetic excuse to party; this hipster tailgate party in the desert.

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  • Mika, care to share some sources of creative support or community that you find to be more productive?
    Personally I think that labeling bright spirits who have learned to love themselves as “Narcissists” is a bit of a cop out. The degree in which (most) people at Burning Man contribute time, energy and money for *others* is more than I have seen anywhere else in the Western world.

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  • re: John (who re’d to Mika)… I’ve had bad experiences at BMan, and I can certainly see why others have as well. BMan is a mini-society, and just like any society there is a mix of social problems and issues. Not everyone who attends BMan is a transcendent being elevated above personality problems such narcissism or other traits. (In other words, not every attendee behaves like a “bright spirit”.) To think that is to put much too high a view on BMan, really.
    There is alot of ugly behavior at BMan. That’s the truth, and that’s why some people don’t want to return.

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  • another re to John: Burners may spend alot of money on making art and entertaining people with music, and otherwise building a city every year. But if you think that burners “contribute more…for others…than anywhere else in the western world”, you are missing alot. There are alot of people who give their time, energy and money to causes, such as environmental or social issues. There are more ways to give to others than building a cool sculpture or running a theme camp. There are collaborative groups as well as individuals working on complex issues, all for the goal of improving the world. Doing for others goes far beyond making a cool mini-city every August (and, yes, the mini-soceity that goes with it). In fact, all those people and groups that I mentioned work very hard tackling much tougher issues, all without the fun bits you encounter at BMan.

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  • and to add to my last note… some may point out that social and environmental activists do attend BMan. That may be, but I suspect they are a small portion of the population of attendees. All the people I know who are really working on social and environmental issues are far too busy and engaged in their issue to attend this event.

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  • @Thermal –
    I’m still genuinely interested in what places or communities are more giving. Black Rock City is the place I have experienced it more profoundly than anywhere else. Is it full of saints? Of course not! But as cities go, I’m pretty impressed with the ratio of selfishness vs. sharing.
    The Playa is the place that taught me the joy in giving to others. It is what inspired me to create a monthly charity event and changed my life in significant ways.
    Many people I know have been inspired by the “community of support” that inspired this conversation to pursue their own paths of activism and change in cities and societies much less focussed on giving.

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  • @Mika / @Thermal

    The secret to life is happiness.
    Halcyon – and thousands of his friends, (myself included)…have found great happiness in this ritual, family, voyage, rite of passage, and canvas…this freedom space to create…

    If it doesn’t make you happy – then find something that does.
    But don’t shit on our parade man.
    Pffffft. Right? Exactly.

    See you in the dust brother John )'(

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  • John, while we have never met, I have appreciated your words and your contributions for some time. You have a beautiful spirit, and I’m especially impressed at how you respond to people who attack you or what you believe in. To Mika and Thermal, I would echo what Joshua said. You will always find negatives if you are looking for them. You are framing your opinions (right or wrong) not as as constructive criticism but as an attack on those who choose to see the beautiful side of Burning Man. I ask you, for what purpose?

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  • Individuals are negative towards others, because they don’t feel good about themselves. This has nothing to do with John and everything to do with them. Here’s a tip. If you look for good, you will find it. We choose the way we see the world.

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  • I dream of a world world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.

    If you look for good you will find it. You can create heaven or hell on Earth, pick one, choose wisely.

    /hugs for all

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  • Halcyon!! )”(
    I was thinking of not going this year.. For the first time in ten years I was on the fence. My camp members from Cool Aid Oasis did not get tickets or a placement, so I tried to sell my ticket and strangely, nobody would buy it. I contacted the Burning Staff so see about changing the name on my Will Call ticket and 3 weeks went by without a response. Then, something magical happened. Friends started getting tickets! Within 24 hours, 6 of my nearest and dearest informed me that they’d be making the journey home again. I was on the phone with one as he purchased one of the 1000 extra tickets in the sale. His computer had crashed and he thought all hope was lost. “it’s too late GO” “Stay positive man!” I said. Not 2 minutes later, the window opened and he purchased a ticket. Success!!!
    I have been keeping up with your blogs for years now. I post them on my FB to help virgins who need tips and tricks. It was your blog post with the Tuesday discussion that changed my mind. I closed my eyes and I remembered Tuesday last year. I remembered the view from the man, the giggles that escaped from under my scarf as we climbed the stairs, and I remembered how much I love being home. As I watched your video, tears streamed down my face and that old familiar joy filled my heart. I decided to return. I love your videos!! Thank you for inspiring and informing me year after year.
    Much love and light and I look forward to seeing you on the playa at Hug Nation! I’d like the chance to thank you in person.

    )”( Miss GO

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