A Bite of Therapy

Photo: philippe glade
Photo: philippe glade


by Dr. Durck

On one of the last days of BM 2013 I went in the late afternoon like it was my habit as an older single to Center Camp and to look “what was up” and to get a cup of coffee.

Cup in hand I walk around in the crowd there, watch the people in the center of center camp doing their calisthenics, partner exercises, yoga moves and whatnot. I also notice people resting on pillows and blankets, dozing, sleeping, still others listening on the sofas to a performance on the stage which sees action 24/7 and there are, of course, lots of other activities, more than one can and would want to describe here.

And somewhere in the crowd I notice this beautiful Ca girl sitting on a small stool with a tiny round table in front of her offering “relationship advice” and “for singles too” is added in clumsy girlish handwriting.

On her table there are a few spiritualism paraphernalia (is that a word?) and beads, candles, cards to take with you etc.

In front of her there is another stool for clients and a tall man in all white garb, eyes closed, hand held to his heart, is breathing heavily and repeats after her some affirmations or whatever it is. And although this is only a foot or two feet away from passers-by they have some privacy, also because the crowd carefully makes a curve around them, picking up quickly and respectfully what is happening here.

He listens as if it were the last thing he ever hears and it is an image of peace, of intensive therapist-client interaction etc.

And this is possible in BM; a total stranger can overcome his inhibitions and “get a bite of therapy” this being the most anonymous city in the world, like a mirage; up within days, lively and pulsing for a week, and then – gone without a trace… like the spirit which participants can and often do carry all over the world, not just Ca and N.Nevada.

For a European this is a somewhat unusual sight… but one to take in and savor.

And as I stand and watch and observe her talking rapidly and seriously, dispensing important advice apparently which is readily listened to, we, the lady and I, make quick eye contact and she acknowledges that I will be next in line with just a flicker of her eyes.

This being BM I am thinking what to do with the time until then and when there is the smallest break in her consultation I ask her whether she would like something to drink – and sure she does – a chai with soy milk (what a fine choice!), she says softly

So I take off, go to the counter, it takes some time in line there to get it and I return with the tea – by now she has the next client, a somewhat rough guy in worn-out desert fatigues. He is breathing heavily. He listens to her if it were the last thing he ever hears and still it is an image of peace, of intensive therapist-client interaction etc.

She thanks me for the chai with a nod and starts sipping in between her admonitions and sentences of advice to the ‘rough’ tall guy.

And as I stand there and reflect on it there is a good feeling – hey this is BM and I think – where in real life would you do this? The 3 bucks for the tea are not the issue here, just a random act of kindness, and it enriches both giver and taker.

This goes on for some time, and after about 2o minutes she is free and she motions me to sit down. I don’t and instead ask her that she perhaps would like to go the toilet first.

And indeed, this is exactly what she had been wanting, and since she is new here, as she explains, she does not know where the next line of porta potties is, and I explain it to her. She takes off.

I sit down on the stool which has the unwanted effect that a dozen people ask me for advice although I am sitting on the wrong side of her table, but as much as I am tempted to try that I have no clue how to do it and what a gross un-BM thing that would be and politely decline – but it shows how much of a market (free of course, this is BM) there must be.

After a long time, we here at BM have lots of time, watches and clocks are so last century, she finishes that session, the guy leaves and she nods to me.

I sit down and we start our session….

Only at BM this would seem possible to me (maybe it is not impossible on some county fair or other gathering).

Given our successful interaction up to now it is no wonder that the lady and I do have a good session indeed.

About the author: 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.

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