I Was Simply Blown Away

I had wanted to attend BM for MANY years — 15+ — but had to play my cards carefully to NOT annoy or offend my wife. I live in Truckee and have friends and acquaintances who have attended since the early 90’s. Every year I think “it’s too late.” “It’s changed”… I know it has. But in 2012, I went with a good friend, and I was floored. I HOPE I will never be the same.

I really thought I knew what I was in for, and I intentionally NEVER looked at a single you-tube video, and I (unfortunately) barely skimmed the last two survival guides. I was buried in work and almost bailed on going.

I was AMAZED, stunned and dumbfounded by the art. I underestimated the art by 10,000%, and I expected a lot. I experienced that “Art is not a thing. Art IS a way” (a Do, a Tao, Dao, a path a way a philosophy an action a word an intention a uniquely human creation that we are all capable of). The playa is a mixture of Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Disneyland, Tron, San Francisco, Lawrence of Arabia, the Mummy, Fifth Element, the Exploratorium, Disneyland (no… really), and 35 or so themes I saw and enjoyed and toyed with and won’t list here. Fashion and dress and make-up ARE art. Motor-heads are artists. Robots are art. Music, dance, yoga, walking, conversing, are arts. I attended a great self-awareness class but never rode an art car. I realized that no one NEEDS any drugs to be high on the playa… the atmosphere puts you there. The community you are surrounded by is the drug. The BLM rangers were totally having a blast.

I felt so lucky be stuck in a blinding dust storm, for the first hour and then hated the last hour but I still loved every minute. I needed to get to 3:00 ended up at 9:00 came back to the man to get re-oriented and ended up at Temple. Finally made it to playa and 3:00 with gratitude.

I have always been uncomfortable in my own skin, and while in Black Rock City I felt uniquely accepted, no matter what. I was little more than a tourist, but no one judged me. Introspection was easy and painless on the playa. You want to figure out who you are and THEN figure out where you might fit in… INSTEAD OF “what can I do to fit in?” On our way home, I wandered around the Reno rib cook-off alone and enjoyed every moment. I looked everyone in the eye and tried to UNDERSTAND what they were saying. I’m trying sooo hard to hold on to that.

I fully relaxed and enjoyed EVERY minute 7am -5am every day (Tuesday – Monday), and I talked to hundreds of interesting and intelligent people and was just delighted to be there.

When I was on the road to Gerlach, and my wife texted to ask asked if I enjoyed it, I actually started to sob in the car, completely out of the blue. I had crazy and fun and busy amazing playa dreams for 8 nights straight after returning. I was more tired when I woke than when I went to sleep, and I didn’t regret them for a moment. I guess I had a LOT to process and I suppose I still do… and with EACH passing day I WANT TO GO BACK more.

As we stood among 50,000 of our closest friends on Saturday night and watched 2000 fire dancers in a 1/2 mile circle dancing at once and then experienced the ART of the pyrotech people … that hour alone was worth 3X the ticket. The BR ranger holding out his arms (as every one ran past him) saying “no…. stop….don’t go…. no… stop” the whole time with a smirk on his face … was PRICELESS.

I brought gifts of great basin native seeds and didn’t give any until we were on our way to Reno… at the car wash, the dumpster and the gas station… and people were so loving and appreciative. It was actually very powerful to have those reactions from people OFF the playa. )*(

THANK YOU SO MUCH. What a blast. I’m working on my attire for next year already. I’ll be a full participant and I WILL ride a mutant vehicle…

Where shall I volunteer next year?


by Eric L

About the author: Tales from the Playa

Tales from the Playa

Tales from the Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by participants. Submit your story here.

4 Comments on “I Was Simply Blown Away

  • TMZ says:

    > but had to play my cards carefully to NOT annoy or offend my wife.

    Hopefully this year you’ll get a playa wife. They’re not easily offended and never say you can’t go to Burning Man.

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  • Janet says:

    Where to volunteer? I love delivering mail! I did it my virgin year and pretty much every year since. I prefer the postal service at Center Camp (they get US Postal Service mail daily that needs to be delivered). A little handful of mail is actually, secretly a treasure hunt. Finding each address, then addressee, will take you places you might never have found otherwise. Quite a few of my all time favorite playa experiences happened because I delivered mail.

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    • monalisajones says:

      I love this idea! I think I’ll try it out this year. I’ve already decided to adopt a port-o-potty but this will fit in nicely . Loved to hear about your first time – thank you for writing!

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  • monalisajones says:

    meant to include “loved to hear about your first time, Eric!”

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