19 Days and Counting

August 15, 2011

Click below for Parts 1-7 of my  Burning Man essay:

Part 1    Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5     Part 6

Part 7

*          *          *          *          *

Unlike The Man, I am uncertain what fate lies ahead.  But I am alone, like him, standing on a pedestal, watching thousands of people staring up at me, looking for some truth, some answer, waiting for me to burn, wondering how long it will take before I crumble and fall.

The BM festival is essentially about survival.  Surviving the harsh winds of the desert, the sun that scorches your skin, making you delirious, confused, like that game where you place your forehead to the butt of a bat and spin and

spin and spin then try to weave your way back to home base, running into opponents, trying to make out your team’s shouts to lead you back.  Even with all the people running around you and your own team calling you home, you are still alone on that playing field.  It is up to you and you alone to find your way home.

Instead of overcoming life’s realities I merely found a place to escape where those fears were not present.  They still existed, but were stifled by acceptance and the magnitude of art and creativity.  The burning man festival will change you.  It’s hard not to be affected in some way by the massive art pieces, bass-heavy electronic music, costumes and commune-type life-style.  But it will not equip you with the armor you need to go back into the real world and face your real problems.

It’s depressing to go back home, to realize the festival is a living breathing entity that can’t exist forever, disappearing into the dust storm until the next year when it is resurrected again, just like the Man.  I went to burning man with the hopes of returning empowered, but in the weeks that followed, I was more depressed, more worried about my future.  This is what i called Decompression.  The BM website claims it is about returning home and reconnecting with friends and family, sharing and creating new art.  For me, decompression was depression, realizing I would only feel accepted and self worthy for that one week.  That a majority of the people back home wouldn’t understand the appeal of this type of lifestyle.  Months after being home, eyes gloss over when I talk about the festival as if I just returned the week before.  Coming home made me realize how alone I truly am.

And i can’t wait to return.  To be amongst like-minded people.  People who share their map with you and escort you to the bathroom.  People who will hug you just a little bit tighter and a little bit longer than normal.

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