Art. Desert. Imagination.
It's that time of the year, where all over San Francisco you see people cramming bikes, coolers, cables, costumes, gallons of water, camping gear, and much, much more to cars, SUVs and trucks. Burning Man is happening again, this year with an expected attendance record of 67,000 people.
I first went to Burning Man many years ago, when it was still around 25,000 people in the desert. The event has grown incredibly over the last few years, and even despite some backlash over the ticket structure and some other things, it still creates a world of unforgettable experiences for anyone who is willing to struggle and suffer through a week in the harsh desert of Nevada.
And when I mean suffer, I really do mean suffer. You have to be ready for many, many hours of intense dust storms, so strong, that you won't see your hand if you stretch your arm away from your body. Dehydration. The heat. The dust. The dust. The dust.
I haven't gone every single year in a row. I typically go when things have happened in my life that call me to it. Death. Love. Career. All the things that typically define who I am, who define my every day existence, when those things shake up, I know it's time to go to Burning Man. I find those 7-10 days in the desert some of the most humbling, inspiring, and touching moments of my year. The people you connect with, the conversations you have, the art you experience, the bike rides, every single random little thing that you will encounter when you're aimlessly biking or walking around the playa, every single little thing comes from the most creative and genuine of places from each participant.
Last time I went my grandmother had just recently passed away, I was feeling a bit low on energy regarding my work, I was feeling uninspired, disappointed with another failed relationship, disappointed at myself. And I had one of the most memorable Burning Man experiences ever. Something that I know will stay with me until the day I die. To this moment, any time I start having doubts about what I'm doing with my life at any moment, I look back at that week and remember that it all doesn't really matter. When you have that kind of connection to the world around you, to people who finally let go of their walls, insecurities, and judgement, to embrace art that inspires you and leaves you gasping for air... that's when you realize that life is all kinds of beautiful chaos.
Burning Man always feels to me like my brain and imagination exploded into a giant desert. The art cars, the performers, the sculptures, the fire, the dancing, the coffee, the water truck, the unicorns, the rainbows, everything. It's a giant white canvas where anything can be whatever you want it to be. Where you can be yourself, and remind yourself that life's too short, too beautiful, and too meaningful to worry about obstacles and other little things that get thrown your way.
It's about getting out of your bubble. It's about being immersed in a completely new reality.
This year I am going for very similar reasons. My grandfather recently passed away. The two closest people to me my whole life besides my parents and sister are now gone. I owe it to them to be myself, and to celebrate their life and everything they did for me over the years and through my childhood. Also, the end of another relationship. When I finally believed I had found it, that this would be the one that would last, the one I deserved, it turned out to be just a dream. A good dream, for sure, but still a dream. And I've grown so much from it, learned so much about myself, what type of connection I deserve with someone else, and of course, what really is important in life. And my career, wow, my career. I go from leaving a studio I love, to a studio I wasn't the right fit for, to doing my own thing and trying to survive. All in the space of the past year. Crazy. All of sudden, everything that cushioned my feet is not there any more. I am floating and drifting in the air. And that's the best time to be creative. And the best time to go to Burning Man. And typically the scariest, yet most exciting time of your life.
Since I am currently packing everything to get ready to leave in just a few days, I thought I would share some random collection of moments that I will always remember from my previous burns. That have defined me, and stayed with me, ever since then.
- A beautiful grand piano concert at sunset on top of a giant tower structure.
- A giant sunflower asking for a Soy Latte in the middle of the desert.
- The daily morning walk to center camp, to chill out with a nice cup of coffee, on a couch, listening to some amazing performances and music, and getting hugs from dusty strangers.
- A mushroom cloud explosion of a massive oil tower.
- Getting sick from dust pneumonia at the end of my fourth burn and losing 20 lbs in two or three weeks.
- Laying on the deep playa by the fence on my own and just marvel at a 180 degree dome of the most amazing sky and stars I have ever seen.
- Participating in a sunset wedding at the Temple.
- As I write a goodbye message for my grandmother and ex-bf at the Temple, and cry, cry, cry while adding my block of wood with the text to the hundreds and hundreds of other farewells people have written throughout the week. And I'm not alone anymore, and strangers, and guardians, and everyone is hugging me, and loving me, and saying it will be all OK. And they were right. It was.
- Stevie Nicks flying and hovering in the air on my first Temple burn.
- The Margarita fairy who would always appear everywhere I went, and make fresh blended Margarita's on location.
- Ice cream while dancing at Distrikt.
- My first year nose bleeds. Constant nose bleeds.
- The hallway of fire, where we biked through a hallway of perfectly timed fire explosions.
- The shot of death, where a co-worker gives me a shot of something that immediately puts me crawling towards a chill-out tent with other survivors.
- The Stadium of the Self, that we helped build on my first burn where you would see a billion of your own self-reflections as you face the sunset and made you think of your own perception of self. Of soul.
- The broccoli fairy, who appeared out of nowhere with fresh broccoli, carrots and dip, after I screamed out loud that I wanted some fresh veggies.
- Pole dancing to the Dark Side of the Moon in a massive art car with a ton of strangers who loved Pink Floyd as much as I do.
- Riding a carousel horse for hours on end, just looking at people bike around.
- Having an amazing conversation about life, love, and friendships with a glass of wine and total strangers, while sitting at a bar stool zipping away at speed across the playa desert. Yes, the whole bar was a car.
And many, many others. I am thankful for all the friendships I have build thanks to Burning Man, and the unforgettable experiences I have had already. And I know this year will be a major one.
We're looking forward to bringing stories, photographs, and videos from what promises to be yet another potentially transforming Burning Man. Stay tuned for more... Have you been? What are your favorite memories?