At least as many words have been written as alkali particles riding the wind; as many photos taken as total playa residents, times 10,000, yet I want to add my words because it’s now my experience too.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve watched so many Burning Man videos with urgency, excitement and a permanent smile stretching my facial muscles. Now I find myself backing away from others’ experiences – I believe it now, I was there and want to look at and think about my own.
I’m attempting my wrap-up piece, although the much repeated and very sensible three week mark hasn’t passed yet. And I in no way believe this is the end of what I’ll write, it’s just for now. I want to preserve both my fleeting and lasting impressions and like a prehistoric short-lived dragonfly, retain my perceptions, of now, in ancient amber.
By this time, you probably know about the dust angels, ringing the bell, fire and the surreal dark streets that become so familiar you ache for them when it’s over. You know men wear skirts and women wear pasties or more and less. You know you need a lot of water and ride your bike everywhere. You know how gorgeous and other worldly the Black Rock Desert is.
By now you know there are never ending street performances,some elaborate, some as simple as people walking or riding through the streets and playa; dances, art structures, surreal vehicles, parties, new people to meet and meditations that come upon you as quickly as a dust storm. You know the day is fantastic and the nights are magical. There is time with friends and time alone, music, connections, glances, greetings, sharing, hugs, kisses, laughter and tears. Hours both race by and linger on the tongue like pear vodka.
You know about the art that emerges from minds so open and free of borders, that to see the pieces, in this arid, humbling and bewitching place is to feel your own boundaries moving back if not completely dissolving. And that evanescing of perimeters seems to make possessing, permissions and judgments actions of somewhere long ago and far away; replaced with giving, receiving, acceptance, support, joy, love, power and release. That’s what my first Burning Man was for me.
At first I was anxious to live with campmates, would I fit in and do it right? Would I be overly cautious about being vulnerable? A wise friend said I chose to be vulnerable there, in what was a safe place for me which helped me heal, since that choice was taken from me, before. I felt I grew as expansive as the playa, in no way reaching a limit to possibilities and opportunities.
Sunday morning I wrote fragments in my journal, sitting in a small temple with my three camp amigas. Two had just become engaged at the larger temple. The wind was rushing across the playa, the air was white with dust; it was beautiful, and quieter as many people had all ready left.
I wrote words to the effect that I wanted the wind to drive everything constricting and negative from me and I saw my bones white and clean. The wind makes every structure a musical instrument and I imagined myself as one.
I wrote “I choose” several times. All week, the words sensuality, empowerment, receiving and love appeared on the pages.
Outward signs of freedom like sexy costumes, sexy clothes, few or no clothes, art designed for people to touch, write on, climb and sit with; music, music, music; then nature – desert sun, gusting wind and stinging sand; the triumphant dust you grow to love; heat, cold, fire, stars and rainbows; the city – so much to see and do you never see it all; you can’t meet everyone; you sleep little yet the perfect amount of time – it all brews into an unmitigated glamour you wear like skin that rewires your brain and swells your heart.
Virgin no more and looking forward with joy to next year.