it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness
I felt it. both of it. there were times where I felt like the wizened veteren of the playa and times that I felt like the kind of ninny that would star opposite george burns, coach a bar, or hail from st. olaf. I spent some time remembering what stuff was like from last year and acting as tour guide. I spent time being told who's who, what's what, where's where and being on the guided end of such tours given by first year folk.
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity
rather, it was the epoch of beyond belief. I was less shocked and less starry eyed than last year. but I was able to better appreciate others' starry eyed shockedness. and there were plenty of new things to keep me slack-jawed.
it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness
given the sleep patterns, I felt sort of north alaskan. I mean, I saw the sun rise 4 out of 8 chances and I saw the sun set 8 out of 9 chances. all the sunrises and most of the sunsets I saw were world class. the sun imagery alone is worth the voluntary risk of serious injury or death. I don't think there was any hour of the clock during which I didn't sleep at least once. not to mention the somewhat frequent white out dust storms. I was blessed with white eyelashes on several occassions. here's a picture of me from last year in a similar white lash condition
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair
see below - I'd like to write about this one last.
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us
how true it is. it was commented to me that black rock city has both ends of the spectrum. in its natural, non burning man state, the black rock desert is such a blank canvas. it's totally open and desolate. there's literally nothing there. I am pretty sure that there are no bigger-than-microscopic indigenous critters. yet during burning man, it's all there. it was pointed out to me that some of the culinary delights we had at camp were just not prepared when at home because they're too decadent. burning man really is 5 star accomodations, in a way. I mean, I didn't come upon the escargot and truffles. the camp serving up champagne wishes and caviar dreams, but I wouldn't be surprised. maybe I'll bring such amenities next year.
we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way
I just left this one in because of the beyond belief religiousy theme. I'm not going to be so cheesy as to say that burning man is a slice of heaven and other-than-burning man is headed the other way.
in short, the period was so far like the present period...
as god told me on the god-hotline-payphone on the esplanade, even burning man cannot be ideally perfectly utopian. it's comprised of people who live in the outside world. all we can do is all we can do. we make burning man as perfect and welcoming a place as we can. on the way in to burning man, there's a series of signs with little axioms and quotations. both years, one stood out above the rest to me. it said "do not bring work with you to burning man. bring burning man back with you." it's the only one that I noticed as a repeat. that sign and what it stands for and how much burning man practices that preach and walks that talk are the basis for the life changing experiences that so many people talk about when it comes to burning man.
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair
this one feels the most true out of all these dickensisms.
one of the biggest things I took from last year's burning man was the amazing community. how incredible is it to assemble some 30,000 people who all love each other, help each other, aren't greedy, give freely to one another and exude all this positivity toward everyone? that weeklong brief glimpse into what humanity can be is one of the things forward to which I was most looking. after last year, one of the things I said of burning man is that it gives me hope for humanity. it was with that sense of hope and awe that I arrived.
while I did have a great time, and I saw lots of examples of humanity at its best, almost my entire trip was clouded by one event that happened on the third night and is an example of humanity near its worst (not like holocaust worst or se7en worst, but still)
I was wandering around with a slew of people. I stopped to do that ravey spinny thing I do which entailed the mistake of setting down my camelbak for a couple of minutes. when I came back to my backpack, it had been taken by (gay?) thieves. at the time, there were a couple of reasons to hope and truly believe that it was an accident. first, it's burning man. we give to each other - gift economy, not theft economy. there are lots of camelbaks there - an easy mistake. it was monday night. the cool hardercore burners were present, not the tits gone wild guys who show up in their eddie bauer shorts and drink beer trying to get laid for the last couple of days. I just couldn't bring myself to believe (ok - give me your beyond belief jokes... let's have 'em) that someone had actually stolen my stuff as oppsed to accidentally picking it up.
there were 5 things in my bag that I REALLY missed
1. my camera. including my 500ish already taken pictures
2. my journal
3. my long underwear
4. my cat in the hat pants - previously a favorite in which to spin fire
5. my camelbak. that's THE way to carry water there. for the rest of the time, I carried clunky water bottles and bummed water off of other people. I didn't feel dehydrated, but I also know I didn't drink enough water. for the most part, I did not piss clear.
not missed as terribly, but my badass no batteries required flashlight was also in there. I had my poi ravey techno blinkies as a fine flashlight replacement.
one of the more annoying parts is that though I mostly forgot about the lost stuff and enjoyed myself anyway, I was constantly reminded of it. every time I saw something cool and went for my camera, it wasn't there. every time I met someone cool and wanted to run into them later in the week or after burning man, I lacked my journal. every time I thirsted, I had to do something inconvenient to get a hit of water.
what all that means is that one of the things I've been looking forward to in the coming weeks will not be happening. I was all about the one (or sometimes two) lj entries per day with lots of detail and accompanying photos. twas not to be. I'll write another entry or two about my experiences there. but the style will be all different. no neat chronology, very few accompanying photos (that I took), no such detail as one gets by making notes while present. but I'll see what I can do nonetheless. in fact, that more hodge podgey style may be better than the travelog style with which I would have otherwise gone. it may give you a better sense of the delicious swirly madness that it is to be there.
still, do not get the wrong idea. while losing my stuff sucked, it didn't change the fact that I had an amazing time. I wouldn't trade the time I had, the art I saw, the people I met to get my stuff back now. there is zero doubt in my mind that I'm going back next year. it's still the best place in the world. there is still nowhere I'd rather be and nobody with whom I'd rather share time than the citizenry of black rock city. minus that one guy.
and here starts the proselytizing. it will last all year and start getting stronger come june:
don't fuck it up - start planning your voyage to burning man now. don't have the money? start saving now. buy your ticket early (tickets are cheaper earlier in the year). apply for a scholarship. don't have a ride? check out kind ride share and various other ride resources. don't know anybody who's going? all the better.
I promise you that it will be worth every second and every penny you spend making it happen.
see you on the playa in 358 days.