Four groundscore and seven fests ago, I was partying (too often in vain), when a dear friend turned me on to a little big thing called Burning Man. ::scoff scoff:: Oh, the stigma! After doing some serious research and digging deep within my own principles to see if it was a good fit, I was hooked… on the culture, on the curiosity, and of course on the crazy!
I took a good look around my festie scene, and while I do love the live music and wacky vibes, I craved a deeper connection, fueled by community and creativity.
So I turned to burn.
I embarked upon my first burn in 2013 in the middle of Missouri called Interfuse…. that year, it was commonly referred to as Winterfuse; to say the least, it was cold. FRIGID. It was miserable. It was exhausting. And I STILL had the BEST time. Ever. Scratching my head, I had to know more.
I decided it was time to do Burning Man proper, as a seasoned festival goer, and so late 2013 I dove in head-first for Cargo Cult. Not fully understanding the past enough to help create the future of Burning Man still, I thought I was ready. Though I had done my homework and was as prepared as us newcomers can be, it was still terrifying. Not because of the dust (that was hardly the biggest challenge), not because of the cold (I slept outside every night on a cot and was never uncomfortable really…we got VERY lucky I am told), and it wasn’t because of the lack of food or camp infrastructure. It was scary because as an eccentric performer coming from the midwest I was virtually invisible.
Everyone had their tribe, their camp, their art car, their shtick, and I did find it a bit of a challenge for a newcomer to incorporate myself into existing relationships and bonds.
It was just the challenge I needed, to be fair.
Pushed outside of my comfort zone and into the ‘real world’ of the creative vortex I better understood my self and my environment. The biggest lesson I learned from the experience is that you don’t go to Burning Man, or anywhere sacred for that matter, without taking with you those with whom you want to share the experience.
“Sometimes you don’t get the burn you want, you get the burn you need,” my partner Michael reminds me, as we head into the abyss of this year’s 2016 Burning Man “DaVinci’s Workshop” of choosing your own adventure!
I am grateful to have a partner who is as open and flexible and free as I feel, especially going into such a journey. I have come so far from being that innocent hippie jam band free lovin’ festival chica I used to be, and now I walk forward with the 10-principles engraved on my soul. “Party with class, pick up your trash!” It’s a group effort to leave no trace. Consent is always fresh in my mind, especially with new people. Radical creativity and self expression combined with civic responsibility means doing what you do best, while not interfering with anyone elses’ experience. Burning is a way of life, a beautiful way at that. Walking this path with integrity, confidence and compassion is my modus operandi, and I could not be more excited to see what unfolds in the Black Rock galaxy this year.
If all of this jargon is a total mystery to you, I encourage you to start researching. Look up the 10 principles. Watch videos of what it means to burn with heart. Most importantly, don’t ever underestimate the power of your own intentions.
So many people have said to me, “oh, I could never afford to go to burning man, it’s so expensive”, and I too said the same thing. Until I just decided to go. Never mind the low-income ticketing program (worth looking up, if you’re on a budget) but the rule of thumb with Burning Man tickets is that if you are supposed to be there, you will make it. If you decide you are going pack your bags and the ticket will find you. The biggest challenge for most people is getting the time off work. Last time I went to Burning Man I quit my job before I went. (Sorry about that CBT). If you decide this is going to be the most life changing epic adventure you’ve ever known then it will be, and quitting your job may be just the catalyst you need to make it happen. If you show fear then you will be met with fear. “Attitude is everything” my mother taught me as a little girl.
My attitude is ready to kick some artsy ass; in 24 days we burn the man.