My first Burning Man experience was the single most transformative event of my life. But I was at a lost when trying to convey just how profound it was to me without sounding crazy. Suddenly I was no longer an atheist? Suddenly I believed in love and magic? And what’s this about a giant rubber duck?
I realized that I needed to tell the whole story. Who I was, how I came to Burning Man, and how that’s made all the difference — essentially, the story of my life. It’s become rather important to me, something I plan to rewrite and recite for the rest of my days. Below is an audio recording of it. Enjoy, and please share if you like it.
I woke up Friday morning and felt a pull to get to the Temple.
As Jonny and I rode out to the playa the dust started swirling, not a full white out, but as we got closer to the temple the visibility decreased. You could see but not well, you could ride but with caution.
We kept going.
Then suddenly the dust settled, and there the temple was in all its mystical grandness, a pyramid of human emotion standing majestically before me. (more…)
I hadn’t even planned on going to “The Temple.” I heard others mention how they “needed to go” there. Why would I need to go? I really hadn’t had any recent losses. It sounded like some sort of obligation— like “needing to go” to church…
It was my first Burn, just my second full day. I was sort of on my own—my wife had been once but chose to stay home. I was trying to take it all in, exploring on my bike. I came across the Temple while crossing the Playa on my bike to get to somewhere else. It was an impressive, very interesting structure—“guess I’ll take a quick glance inside…” I thought. (more…)
One lonely midnight I went to look for those people of “last time” at the address we were once, knowing that even the City itself changes ground. I found only walls and walls of RVs enclosed upon themselves like aliens conspiring in deaf whispers. I did find a home-made planetarium and laid down and cried. They had drove with all this 30 hours from Canada and although the projector broke down sometimes, the stars were not really our galaxy, and you could see the binder clips holding the white sheet ceiling to the dome, it was touching and beautiful.
“It’s like we’re in the ocean… the deep part where all the angler fish and weird bottom dwellers hang out. Clearly we’re the plankton. And that art car barracuda is DEFINITELY chasing us.”
This was my first year on the Playa. It came with a huge amount of lights, sounds, sensations, and definitely a sensory overload that made me feel like a cat locked in a catnip warehouse during a laser light show. But one night in particular has stayed with me as the days, weeks, and months have passed and the immediate memories have faded.
On my third night on the Playa, my sister and her fiancé got sick. Stuck-in-the-tent, can’t-move-off-these-pillows level sick. I, being a picky vegetarian who had not shared their food for the day, had managed to avoid this sickness. My options were to stay tent-bound with the two of them or go out onto the Playa with one of their friends, someone I knew but I didn’t “know”. I chose to go, out of sheer self-preservation, but not without trepidation. (more…)
Do you remember when we climbed that man made mountain at sunrise? The desert breeze blowing from the west? I can’t recall all the details, because of my exhaustion. We drove all night, and when we finally arrived, me and you being the only two still awake. Decided to set up camp. Hustling to try to beat the day break. We lost the race with the sun, but camp was half put together. The bikes were out, and they must have spoken out to one of us. Not sure whose idea it was to take a quick ride to the east. Riding towards the glowing sun. It shining down on our faces. The air still cool, and the day still as young as a child.
What an adventure that was. The feeling that we had arrived 15 hours from when we had left our home near the water edge. Now filled with a calm of our worries. A release from all the anxiety. We had arrived, and excitement surrounded us. (more…)
Tuesday morning of my first Burn, I pedaled out to the Temple. Everyone I had ever spoken with about Burning Man always spoke with reverence about this, so I was curious. I am not a new age religious kind of guy, but my fiancé had lost her Mom recently and I thought that would be an appropriate way for me to express my personal loss. I also thought of it as a way to honor my relationship since I was there solo. (more…)
After reading Trevor Hughes Playadipity story, I’m reminded of my own amazing journey and discovery… all this, from our very own Camp Playadipity, back in 2011.
While my Lost Buddies camp joined up with Playadipity the previous year, I didn’t really get to meet many from the Playadipity side. So one of my goals for 2011 was to do so. I arrived back to camp one morning around 3:00 AM from a fantastic all night journey to Point 3 in the deep playa. I was ready to get some sleep, when I came across a group of the Playadipity folks chillin in their dome. I eventually struck up a conversation with Anne, one of the colorful new people I wanted to get to know better. We conversed for almost an hour about this and that, and mostly about her home town of Buffalo NY, and stories about her caravan that came back out to the playa. It was cool conversations, and I was kinda sad I didn’t get to connect with her so well the previous year.
On a final note from me, I asked her about a local hero I always remembered and loved from my college days in Western NY. This guy was amazing; dressed in his white tux and black bowler derby, he performed to halls and bars full of loud, friendly & wild fans. He played piano like Chopin, and sang songs that would make Lenny Bruce blush and laugh. And he gave me this lasting memory for the past 30 years. So I asked Anne, “Did you ever hear of this guy? Is he still alive?”, to which Anne responds “Ha, yeah, I married him”. I laughed, saying “Yeah, sure, but really, you heard of him?”. She looks me dead in the eye “I MARRIED HIM”, then she called out: “Hey Johnny boy, get your ass over here!”. And there he was. OMFG. I fell to my knees, hugged his legs and laughed uncontrollably. PLAYADIPITY!! In Camp Playadipity! Go figure…