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June 15th, 2012  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

It’s okay to be miserable at Burning Man

Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.

I wish someone had told me that before my first year at Burning Man.  Or my second.  I figured it out myself on my third.

We’re under 100 days ’till Burning Man. People are excited – and they want it to be contagious.

So do I. This year’s going to be awesome.   But in that well meaning spirit I’ve recently been asked: “why don’t you use the blog to be more positive? You should only write stories to get people fired up about Burning Man! Why don’t you stick to that instead of talking about negative stuff?”

Well I’ve already said that there’s too much goddamn positive energy at Burning Man.  I stand by that.  It’s also true that Burning Man affects me profoundly in ways that are challenging and difficult.   I’m guaranteed at least two existential crises every Burn, and they were much worse before I realized that they weren’t a result of my doing something wrong at Burning Man – they were just part of the experience.  I’ve heard similar confessions from a lot of people.

But I’d really like to answer that question with a true story.

Two years ago. I was walking through the desert, across the open playa in the early afternoon. It was hot, and I was very, very unhappy.

I don’t remember why, anymore, but I remember what that mood felt like. It would have been depression if I hadn’t been so angry, so resentful. I wanted to bite someone. I wanted to yell at someone. I wanted to punch you in the face. You, personally.

I think I was heading over to one of the Irish bars. I wanted to start a bar fight. Right now.

Out in the middle of the dust I saw four desks separated from a small line of people by a velvet rope. Three men were at the desks, and a fourth was behind a small podium managing the line.

The bouncer spotted me. “Hello sir!” he shouted. “Is there anything you need?” Read more »