The greatest adventures start well before you think they have. Burners have this saying, “as soon as you leave your house, you’re at burning man.” So chill, the saying implies, and remember that each step is the destination. You are already home. Burning Man is an attitude, a way of living, not a place or a group of people. It lives in our hearts, mostly dormant, always there when called upon to burst out and radically change our perspective on life. Not just the life we inhabit, but all life.
I tried reminding myself of this when I was going through the final planning. I was happy then, excited for the new adventure… but knowing that through all the preparation, I wouldn’t be prepared. I had my costume (a green helmet with alien antennae and a space suit), my essential survival gear (goggles, hats, hankies, sunscreen, etc.), and various just-in-case supplies (first-aid, extra everythings, etc.) Camping hundreds of times has helped make this whole “survival stress” a somewhat non-issue for me. But what else did Burning Man have in store? What else would I wish I brought once there?
I shelved that concern for the immediate need to get friends and start the road trip. Sonny and Kester missed two flights to get to San Francisco. “If it were easy, everyone would go,” they reminded themselves to choke the thoughts of giving up. I could see in their tired eyes that determination had won out when I picked them up around noon at SFO. But they still had energy to shop, which kind of blew me away, so we hit the Haight for final costume accessories. Towards sunset we booked it down to San Jose for a final stop at Sonny’s brother’s girlfriend’s house. I ditched half my clothes down there… which reminds me, I need to go to San Jose again. ;p
That was our last night in the “Default World.” Black Rock City, infinite dust, ridiculous art, the playa, wacky people, controlled chaos, unbounded beauty, and all manner of unusual experiences awaited us just a few hours north of Reno, Nevada. By about 5:00AM Tuesday morning, after at least 4 hours of “waiting” in the coolest line of my life, we had landed. There was no Houston to notify. There was only dust… and dreams manifested right before our eyes.
The Temple of Transition loomed gloriously nearly a mile out from our camp. The very first thing I did was grab water and booze and walk out towards it. I stopped on the Esplanade (the first street lining the inner circle of Black Rock City) stared out at the various art installations, mountain ranges crested with orange gold of the rising sun, and hundreds of burners meandering, working, wondering, and doing god knows what else. I took a deep breath, smiled broadly, and laughed. I was home.
That morning I watched the sunset while sitting in the sand at the Temple of Transition. I meditated, prayed, and let the glory of the heavens and earth wash through me. I thanked for being there, prayed for beauty to come, and dreamed of what might. I made marks in the sand before me then reflected on them. I stretched my body and felt it ache and relax and ache and relax. I breathed. I listened. When the sun was fully before me, shining its brilliant heat on my face and chest, I stood up, turned around and started walking back. Like I would experience a thousand times before the week was over, life had given me a moment of perfection so that I could turn around and walk away.