I have a tendency to isolate myself and put a mask on because it is easier and more comfortable. It was hard to show this man I hardly knew how alone I felt in that moment. But, once he had seen me the loneliness evaporated. Connection fuels our universe. Not just, the tangible connection we scroll through on social media — the tactile connection fueled by conversation, experience, and touch. When you share something with a stranger it opens you up to be seen and truly see another person. Unlike the everyday where people just brush by you and maybe you get a nod or a handshake in acknowledgement; people take the time to look you in the eyes, listen, and feel you. A new friend is greeted with a warm hug and this amplifies the compassion and generosity each time it occurs. This connection creates a deep desire to contribute to the community in every way one can.
Step 3. Give Willingly
Gifting is an essential part of burner culture. Each individual brings what he/she can in surplus in order to share it as a gift with the entire community. It is not trading, although it is commonly confused as such. It is about being open to give with no expectation of getting anything in return. It creates the balance which allows the engaged openness to receive the incoming gifts from all the beautiful people surrounding you.
“The Playa Provides,” and its true. Everything you need has an odd way of finding you out there in Black Rock City. There is a higher level of serendipity than any other place I’ve ever lived and that comes from this willingness to give. It’s why suddenly you’ll find yourself standing on a dusty road at 10am eating hot brisket with grease dribbling down your chin and everyone around you is covered in grease too and we’re together and we’re alive. The engagement makes you want to share. I began to share my art and realized that my poems and stories were gifts. I allowed myself to simply receive being heard as a gift. The challenge is in carrying that new version of value into my “real world” life. When we want something we buy it. There is a distance in consumerist culture. When we see the world through this lens it becomes more about reward than about the journey to get there. A lot has shifted forward for me as I begin to ask: What can I give? Rather than. What can I get?
4. Let Go.
The final two days of Burning Man are the highlight of the festival. Why? Everyone wants to see the man Burn and it is the biggest party night of the weekend. Then the packing begins and everyone gets extremely contemplative. The final night the Temple burns in silence. This is crucial because, although, the experience was beautiful and tactile and real it is also, like all things, temporary. In order to make space to grow forward one must burn all old notions to the ground and start entirely new.
One morning I sat in the temple and spent some time with my own thoughts. There were sharpies available to write a note on the walls. People, including myself, wrote personal messages on what we needed to let go of. Many had also brought photographs and mementos of people they loved whom they had lost during the course of the year. I sat there for a while, losing track of time, allowing myself to release the accumulation of negative mentality I had been collecting the past year.
I honestly felt lighter whenI returned to my camp after my time there that morning. There were blocks I had up which had dropped away over the Burn. I was more authentic and honest both with the people I encountered through the weekend and myself. For once I was not trying so very hard to control my experience and instead I was allowing myself move through it naturally.
Now I am back in reality. All we are left with are the ashes of the experience and like a phoenix we must find a way to grow and rebuild that sense of connectivity experienced in Black Rock. However, now we must do that out here in a world where so many people lived life numbed out. It is easier to join them. Decompression began and as the dust settled and I returned to my habitual routine I became depressed. I began to self isolate again. It took recalling how I made the magic of Burning Man happen to wake myself up again. Recognizing I manifested this experience and my ability to give up control and surrender to it is the greatest lesson of my first Burn.
Now, I must collect what I can from these ashes and move forward. I realize now after writing this I have been so uncomfortable in my old habits because I have let go of them. I am ready to say, “Yes!” instead of just, “okay…” I am ready to live fully and engage in today. I must continue to ask the universe for what I most want and then give up and give over into the actions required to get there. Magic is not something that happens overnight. It takes a constant accumulation of action, curiosity, and a willingness to burn it all to the ground and start fresh. When I start feeling stuck and the need to simply distract myself comes up I am going for a walk. Engaging in the world helps inspire me to inspire others to truly be a part of it. I still have almost a year until my next adventure out to the Playa and I am excited to see how far I can stretch myself in manifesting a new reality from now to then. Because in the end, reality is what we make it.