the year I stopped going to burningman, was early 2000’s? it really wasn’t my vibe, but I tell everyone that it is a place to go experience once in their lives. we would go there to test new ideas and figure if it survived a week in the desert, it would work fine in normal everyday life.
I used to call it a 10-15,000 ring circus, but today…what is it 70-80,000 people? I stopped going because there was the influx of stage 2 silicon valley money and people not really going to create, invent, share…but more to drop acid and bring in their tour buses and chefs to “rough it” in the middle of the desert playa and bring all their electronics and creature comforts with them. the most profound experience I had at burningman, had nothing to do with this – and I am told you can no longer do it…
it was being given a bike for a bit from some folks that I made some coffee for and followed their directions to pedal for 30 minutes in the north of the desert playa and then stop, sit down, calmed myself and wait. it was what I guess you tried to gain with sensory deprivation or some technological light and audio tools to get your mind into various states…but this was nature and me. no pills/technology/substance needed - it was the first time I felt the actual pulse, vibration and power of how big nature is, and how tiny I was in it – sans any noise from man-made devices. it is a gift I am thankful to have experienced.
before you start asking, no. I don't do drugs at burningman - first, because I just don’t do them, and second, I look like a fed in shorts and didn’t dress to the costume extreme with fur boots or my neighbor bob, sitting there in a playpen in a diaper. (don’t judge! there were a lot of really amazing and interesting human beings out there – and very few a**holes.)
I did get some odd looks when they were offered and I said, “no thanks.” the good news was the vast majority of people were very cool about freedom of choice and/or it meant more for them? I don’t know which it really is? the odd look folks are just as goofy as you and i in that if you don't prescribe to thier view of life - you are labeled an outcast of sorts. maybe some learned psyhologist can give the reason(s)?
so I digress…and when I see the New York papers highlighting the glamification and or capitalization of the billionaire row, hired Sherpa, and last year was, “I need to spend 40k for custom burning man wear to look great.” it had me want to puke a bit, as that is NOT what the majority of burning man was or probably is about. in a sense the festival, while dynamic, is having to come to grips with what they didn’t like about society – gluttony, greed, power, and lust (ok, the last part probably was in the original design) but the idea of corporate branding and such – was not.
you paid a bunch of money for a ticket that had a label you could die, please bring water and supplies – and you would be amazed how many people didn’t think or plan. it reminds me of a friend that does historical tours around the world. his last trip was someone not reading, “we will be walking quite a bit, if you have trouble with stairs, long hikes, or are not in great shape, this is probably not a trip for you.”
“but I didn’t think I could not do it.” are the famous words of someone halfway around the world that didn’t bother to read the warnings who now has 20-30 people having to slow down because of their choice. I am ok with ignorance and not knowing, but I see so many older people in airports barely chugging along with tour groups and I applaud their sense of seeing the world, yet, I wonder what the circumstances were that have them seeing the world in the worst shape of their lives? for many, it doesn’t look enjoyable, and I wager they don't get to go off the beaten path much.
I should take the woo-woo room to burningman – I was not thinking about it – but now I have it on the map. it is a piece of technology that is about as close to going out in the desert like I did…and allow yourself to be one with nature. I keep telling people, “just go out in the middle of nowhere and wait…that is the best way.”
usually, you hear a litany of excuses why someone doesn’t want to go out and be with themselves and have that moment where you realize how small you are, yet, how much nature and the cosmos loves you. I will stop trying to write words to describe it – truth is, I can’t.
but when you start bringing your “normal” life and your “controlled bag of baubles in drugs, fine foods, power, and greed” out with you – attend burningman for 100 years and not learn the lesson that the event teaches if you participate – and not just consume.
it is really interesting what and how we value things as we age. I am not sure if one is gaining wisdom or if one is learning how vane humanity is?
it has been this since the beginning of humans on the planet. I just can’t understand why we don’t seem to get a better clue with treating each other with love and respect? while I don’t think there is any problem with money, I do think a lot of people could learn and grow more if they didn’t export the luxury, drugs, and other accolades into the desert with them and get a taste, or remember where they came from.
perhaps it would ground silicon valley more in nature and actual life, rather than escaping in excess for a bit?
that's my two cents…I see entertainment scaling with audio, visual, pyro, cue controls…efx…and maybe the world will come to a place we did with all our research and creating immersive shows and entertainment…”this is really nice…cool…fun…but does it help humanity really grow? or simply escape?”