Posts Tagged ‘Community’

Temple of Flux

September 30, 2010

At Burning Man 2010

I visited the Temple of Flux four times. I wanted to go each day, but the way the hours rolled seamlessly with no meaning or inherent to-do-ness, I think four was pretty good.

P and rode out there the first morning. All ready it was a sacred space.  This year’s temple was a very organic looking piece that was a series of hills and nooks and open spaces, like Black Rock Desert. People leave all sorts of objects in memory of loved ones and themselves. Paintings, pictures, books, dolls, toys. Some sprinkle ashes there.

I had planned to spend time alone there. I wanted to release and leave many things there, in a temporary beautiful space that would grow, burn and disappear as if no one had ever been there.

People treat the temple reverently and softness enveloped me when we walked in. We mostly walked around and read memorials and sat for a few minutes writing in our journals. I just wrote words, incomplete thoughts.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to physically leave there yet, but imagined writing a poem during the week.

On the way out that first day, I laughed and signed a memorial that said: I forgive myself for my financial troubles.

I think it was Thursday when I popped out of bed the minute it felt warm, washed up, slathered on sunscreen, tied a sarong to go with the tank top I slept in, pulled on my boots, grabbed my pack and rode out, early morning playa. It was probably around 8ish. That had been my dream for almost a year. The light is beautiful, it’s quiet and sparsely populated. It’s just hard to get up and go that early if you’re up late the night before. It was so worth it.

The playa is different at day and night. In the day, you’re riding along and you see something staked in the sand and go investigate and it’s a small but lovely piece of art that someone put love and care into and installed in the desert. I rode straight to the Man and was able to climb up. I think it was one of the last days people were able to do so, P said she couldn’t it was always roped off. I think they were getting ready to install the pyrotechnics.

I  took pictures of the four directions and felt completely at peace. Afterwards I rode to the temple, veering off here and there to look at and touch something. It’s hard to express what these bike rides meant to me.

At the temple, I found a place to sit, near some guys playing beautiful music and chanting; clarinet, flute, drum and singing bowls. There was a guy sleeping on the ledge above me and next to me a guy was meditating and burning small squares of sage. It was perfect.

I absorbed and let go;  you’ve seen my hat, I covered the front of my face with the front brim and cried and cried, tears flowed effortlessly, everything coming out. Not sobbing or choking, just a huge release. Kind of what I’d been waiting for. After what seemed like a long time, I started drying up a little. My neighbor gave me and Emergencee pack, I gave him a Cliff bar. Placed on legs, no words. A little mystical and reverent.

I wrote a little in my journal, but not much. It’s then I realized I didn’t need to leave any tokens or written words there if nothing felt right, I was there and was leaving myself. Dying to the past.  It was a beautiful thing to accept. It wasn’t just residual pain and anger regarding the assault, I wanted to leave everything that wasn’t love and compassion based. I wanted to leave every misunderstanding, grudge, all self pity, insecurity, victim consciousness, judgement, all of it,  and pun intended, all moop. I hoped for nothing less than a death and rebirth.

I looked around a little, watched a woman dance sensuously with a hoola hoop, then lowered my brim and cried again. I could have stayed all day, repeating this pattern, the peace was so immense.

When the musicians stopped playing, I peeked out from under my hat and listened to them talk and laugh. I laughed out loud when I saw they were passing around a bottle of Jagermeister. I breathed and meditated, did my Sufi wazaifs and after what seemed like a few hours, I left, only because it was getting hotter.

Friday night in the wee hours, a new  friend and I headed to the temple to hang out. We laughed alot, kissed and dozed. It was full of people and the dub dub dub of the dance club nearby. The temple was stuffed with mementos. We read  a little of one book written by someone into the slave fetish, it was a long book, kind of hard to figure out. We sat next to a huge stuffed bunny for a while, people watched and talked. It was surreal, sexy and perfect. That’s the night I saw the sun come up, well, I actually missed sunrise but when we came out, the sun was up, we rode slowly home. It was a good Burning Man night.

Sunday morning was my last visit there. Our camp was down to me, P, Bird and Imp.  We so wanted to watch the temple burn, but the wind was really strong in the morning and we had a few white outs. We just didn’t have the energy to go through another night like the night before. Imp had confided in me that she was going to give Bird a promise ring there that night. It was moved to the morning. I felt so honored to be a part of it.

The temple was magic and fulfilled my hopes and dreams, certainly not just mine, such gratitude.

I’m walking around here now but there is a veil and I feel like I’m there. This does feel false and it did feel so real there, from the beginning. I didn’t expect that full reaction although most people say that it happens. Flux.



September 30, 2010

At Burning Man 2010

Our neighborhood had a kissing booth.  It was usually staffed by young Europeans guys and American girls. I think when it wasn’t staffed it was open for whomever. Some of the European guys were amazing looking, well one was.

It was conveniently located on the way out to the playa and/or on the way home and near the port-o-potties. Can you say ambiance? It just didn’t matter. My first morning trip to the loo, I was dressed and fresh and feeling fine. I saw the young guys in the booth and smiled and one kept calling to me, I just smiled. He was gorgeous.

I did my business and as I was riding back home, decided to swing up. He started talking to me in a charming accent, smiling, complimenting me and why not start the day with a lovely long sweet kiss? Which we did.

I saw him several times over the week. He liked the mornings. He always called out to me. I always went over, except the one morning I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet, so then I just smiled alluringly. Our kissing got much better and hotter. He was from Belgium, so that’s what I called him.

P and Bird were with me on separate occasions and were duly impressed with me and Belgium.

Friday afternoon he said, “Come to our Karma Sutra party tonight.”

Of course! I asked him what time and he said 9. I half jokingly asked if it would be going on later and he said no.

I figured he didn’t understand me and said “Your Karma Sutra party is from 9 to 11?” And he said yes. I just smiled and said OK. He pointed out the purple RV and said to knock and ask for him. We parted with the best kiss ever. Really.

P had met someone from their camp earlier; we were kind of intrigued to see just what went on there. It was our night to explore the neighborhood and we couldn’t resist.

Long after nine, we rode up and knocked on the purple RV door. A man and a woman were waiting to get in, they said something like couples and single women were invited. P hung back a little.

A seemingly stern older German guy with a white brush haircut opened the door – no smiles, no hello. I had seen him at the booth. I glimpsed in and saw a couple men who looked just like him on mattresses, I believe they were naked. I sweetly asked if Belgium was there. He said NO.

So I asked, “What do you do in here?”

He said, “We make LOVE. “

His accent was so strong and he punched those three syllables like cement on stone, he slammed “love” the hardest in his guttural thick accent. What it sounded like was this:  Here, we torture and maim humans, cut them up, cook the flesh, devour with blood spilling down our naked bodies and scatter the remains in the desert. (Read with your best German serial killer accent).

Ok, I said. Great. The couple calmly waited to get in.

P and I rode off for other adventures, minus karma sutra. We only had another day and a half, I didn’t see Belgium again but didn’t look too hard either. He had been pure beauty, sensuality and joy for me.

I told the campmates and strangers/friends the story and “We make LOVE” became a fitting punch line to many giddy conversations, I probably over used it a bit.

Dust looks good on you

September 23, 2010

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.

Time, Time, Time, see what’s become of me

September 17, 2010

Friday, September 17

It’s time to create my wrap up piece and words fail me, only because every word has been used over the years and while I recognize, honor and dig that my experience is as unique as the other some 51,000’s, (and that’s just this year) as a writer I have to put down what it all meant to me.

I met Genie and it was wonderful, those pendants are amazing. Can I wear it everyday or is that just bragging and overdoing it?  😉 Let ‘s stay in touch, decompress or something together?

I will gather thoughts and attempt to put words to them here, at some point that speak more to the whole.

For now I want to thank all of you who read this and encouraged me. It exceeded every hope I had, I miss being there with every cell in my body and feel out of place and sync here, but here I am and am trying to enjoy the present.

I realized it’s not a myth, it’s real. And now I think, where is everyone? Why isn’t everyone looking me in the eye? And smiling, speaking? What’s with these walls and schedules?

I want to give people pretty journals and pens just because, I want to wear heaps of jewelery given to me by stranger-friends, for now I’ll try to remember to speak to people, not be afraid, smile and reach out.

How are you? Tell me please.

Much love to all of you, til the words come.

Time, see what’s become of me
While I looked around for my possibilities.

I was so hard to please.
Look around,
Leaves are brown,
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter.

Hear the Salvation Army band.
Down by the riverside’s
Bound to be a better ride
Than what you’ve got planned.

Carry your cup in your hand.
And look around.
Leaves are brown.
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter.

Hang on to your hopes, my friend.
That’s an easy thing to say,
But if your hopes should pass away
Simply pretend that you can build them again.
Look around,
The grass is high,
The fields are ripe,
It’s the springtime of my life.

Seasons change with the scenery;
Weaving time in a tapestry.
Won’t you stop and remember me
At any convenient time?
Funny how my memory skips
Looking over manuscripts
Of unpublished rhyme.

Drinking my vodka and lime,
I look around,
Leaves are brown,
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter.
-Paul Simon, Hazy Shade of Winter

Pink duct tape and safety pins

August 18, 2010

August 17, Wednesday

I’ve turned the corner and am racing towards the playa. The same wise and knowing friend, who gave me the fur jacket, emailed me today and wrote, “The playa provides.” And it has and I’m not even there yet.

Burner friends, how do you even function these days before the journey? I work my list on excel many times a day. I try to do/buy a little each day.  There’s so much to do and it’s all I want to do. I’m currently extremely underemployed; frankly I don’t know how people holding down this default world find the time to get it all together

I’m going to be the type of burner wearing thrift store finds, Target stuff; scarves tied every which-way and treasure I’ve discovered on the back of shelves or in boxes under more boxes. So far a few day looks and night looks. Boots for day and boots for night. And stuff and more, I think, I guess. Green eggs and ham.

The fellow we’re camping with seems to personify the playa doctrine of fun and generosity. I’m stoked that we have a little camp now to experience it with.

I’ve noticed:

  • I want to give people stuff, my time, smiles, I’m super patient and am cracking myself up
  • Compulsion to start my paper Burning Man journal tonight, I want to write it with pen & paper, I have another paper journal (and another blog of course), but this needs to stand alone.
  • Drawn to Henry Miller’s “Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch,” the community he lived with there sound like the first Burners to me.  I read little snippets all day. I might bring that along with me.
  • And I just want to keep talking about it, even if I just say the same things over and over. I also like dragging people inside so I can show them my inventory.

I’m wondering about a playa name, not feeling that yet and wondering if anyone uses their real name?

I love this picture-

Today is my Birthday

April 13, 2010

Tuesday, April 13

Today’s my birthday. What happened this past year hasn’t gelled in my head yet, but it’s the year my life changed.

The last couple of years I sought community. I live alone, I’m single with no kids and my contentment being alone out-weighed the people part of my life. I wanted a few more people.

When I screamed for help last year, my neighbors came; they saved my life.

Afterwards, along with the adrenaline, vicadin and spiritual awe coursing through my veins, a new realization bloomed: I had community.

The man who saw my attacker leave me, risked his life to help me and others by chasing and fighting him into submission. He did this fearlessly, with his wife’s support and faith which I think protected him.

From that night on, family, friends and casual acquaintances gave me their time, thoughts and prayers. They brought groceries and flowers. They sat and spoke or listened, they were there with me. They wrote and called. I had to receive without giving back, a strange and uncomfortable position for me. All I could do was thank them and see the light they radiated.

My family worried and thought I’d be more comfortable somewhere else, but I was completely at peace in my home, among the amazing neighbors in my community. Daily, this community nurtured me in ways I’ll never forget.

On the first day after, my friend and neighbor came and made a list of what I needed; she went out and came back with a bag of food and toiletries. When I tried to insist she take a check, her eyes welled up with emotion; she said she wanted to do this and asked me to let her do it.

I didn’t do anything to deserve the gifts I received. I was simply in need of them. They gave me much more than I would have asked for, but I never had to ask anyway. It’s still wondrous to me.

It was a beautiful scary thing, this cascade of humans and human kindness in my life. It changed me. I learned how to take care of a person in trouble from my newly discovered community.  

To give with no expectation of receiving anything back, that’s asking for the best from humanity. That’s one of the things Burning Man asks. I read something a Burner posted on Facebook about Burning Man setting the tone for his coming year.

I want to adopt that.

A desert full of creative, dusty, possibly naked people; and  art, music, all the unknowns and peace and love?  Sure, I’m there. It looks to be a good place to recommit to a creative life and loving kindness. And to hopefully thrive and carry it back. Or maybe to just do what seems difficult. I’ll know when I’m back.

I’m grateful to say that the same old same old just won’t do anymore. Happy Birthday to me.