Living in the Bay Area, one becomes accustomed to people having some sort of opinion on Burning Man, and most people are at least aware of it here.
But for people in my life who don’t get it, say, like most of my family, they ask the typical uninformed questions like “What do people do there?,” “Isn’t it hot?” or “Aren’t there a lot of naked people?”
And it’s funny, I’ve switched my attitude completely in how i react to people who criticize and/or make snide comments about Burning Man.
When I was a relative newbie (i.e. the first three years I went to Burning Man … and yes, sometimes it can take THAT long to be fully acclimated), I used to be very defensive about Burning Man and would often argue that ‘no, it isn’t just a bunch of tweaked-out, naked cyber-hippies rolling around in the mud celebrating free love and all that’ — and no offense to those of you who consider yourself tweaked-out naked cyber-hippies who roll around in the mud.
But these days, I have come to realize that there’s no point in defending Burning Man to those who do not know.
Burning Man certainly isn’t for everyone and that’s, frankly, part of its appeal.
Despite the fact that Burning Man seems to feel like it’s becoming one of the world’s largest “exclusive” events, it’s still largely made up of a disproportionate amount of creative folks compared with the ratio in the so-called “real world.” The overabundance of creative participation is directly related to the amount of creative inspiration it conjures in the minds of participants.
I recall my first visit to the playa in 1999. I was in awe within hours after setting foot in Black Rock City. Burning Man was nothing like I expected and yet it completely overwhelmed any potential expectations I had.
I expected a big party, I guess. And in a way, it IS a big party, in that it’s a celebration where all the right people you’d want at a party are there.
Yet, saying Burning Man is just a party is giving it very short shrift. In fact, I HATE that people think it’s just some big party.
It’s a celebration of everything — the art, the people, the creativity, the randomness, the mind-bogging experience, the harshness, the inspiration, the music, the surprises, the disappointments, the reality — and yet so damn hard to truly explain in mere words. Right?
It’s an alternate view of what life could be.
It makes me smile. It makes me stressed. It makes me angry. It makes me ecstatic. It makes me work harder. It’s changed my life.
And that, right there, is WHY I go to Burning Man.
It’s like life, only better. You can feel comfortable knowing you can be as weird and bizarre as you can possibly imagine.
It’s everything I was looking for, even if I didn’t know what I was looking for before I found it. Where everyone is in on the joke, where nothing is what you think it is, where the unexpected becomes the expected.
And to that i say Hell Yes!
Burning Man makes me feel more alive than almost anything else I’ve ever experienced.
You know the saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure?”
Some might say burners are the misunderstood trash of the world. I might say burners are the misunderstood treasures of the world.
We’re recycling those treasures to the masses. And making an impact.
Maybe I am willingly drinking the Kool-Aid being served to me on a platter by the so-called “cult of Burning Man.”
But you know what?
This Kool-Aid tastes better than anything else I’ve ever had.
More Kool-Aid please.
We’ll see you at home.