Tale of Two Cities

I feel like I am having a nightmare and that soon I will awake. Terror and destruction have captured the world, hitting so close to my home that I feel out of place walking on the streets. I am not whole, part of me is here, part is with those who wade through rubble in the streets of New York, and part of me still remains in paradise on the playa. For I was waiting for some stimulus to bring me down off the cloud that I am floating on from my life changing experience last week. I had changed and the world around me looked different. Life tragedies occurring this week, car accidents and mass murders, chipped away but did not make a dent into my awaking and still my spirits floated like the mist off the falls of Niagara. All that has changed.

I am still a changed person, but the world around me has been altered as well. The most horrifying images stared back at me through the TV after I received the worst wake-up call ever. I only hope that I wake up to find I am still on the playa, the dream an after-effect of many sleep-deprived days causing delusional and disturbing images. I know I will never wake, that I am here on this earth and that the spirit I brought back with me from the desert cannot shield me from the evils that roam the lands.

As news trickles in I am not sure if someone who touched my life along the way lies victim to the hand of a few who believe that this is right. I know there is no absolute right or wrong, the experience on the playa was as close to right as one can get, but the empty space that was once a majestic symbol of democracy and freedom is as close to wrong as it gets. I fret for the moment when I find out that the unknown friend was getting their morning coffee, while I lay asleep, buffered by our entire country.

As much as I want to express my own happiness and growth, I must concede to reality and visit the side of sadness and depression that I have know far too well in my life. The tears swell in my eyes thinking of those who lie dead covered in the dust from a modern marvel that took years to build, but only minutes to destroy. The dust is reminiscent of the playa, a side effect of our own actions out there that is as much a recurring reminder that we have our weaknesses and limitations, as it is a nuisance in the daily living. The dust from the playa brought tears to my eyes, tears of joy from the awaking of my spirit within. The dust I witnessed on the tube 3000 miles away brought only tears of sorrow and pain.

Should I put a picture side by side of the two events? They both look similar, a white cloud that looms close to the earth carrying particles that test the human strength and endurance. Should such an identical image from each event be found, it is unimaginable that the spirit underlying be as opposite from each other as possible. One place, the center of the world, the other as desolate as one can get in our country. In a white out they both look the same. The image taken of myself with a loved one covered in dust brought to me memories of such joy. Should that picture be identified from a different locale on a different day, it would be interpreted as faces of gloom and despair. Could such happiness be regarded as pain? If the truth is blowing with the dust through the playa, shall I ever find it? I am only lucky for all I gave and received when the man burned, for it has helped me get through the days like today.

by Freshiedoug

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.

One comment on “Tale of Two Cities

  • freshiedoug says:

    The date on this was from burn night in 2001. That is incorrect as I wrote this months after that first burn, late 2001 or early 2002. Here is the photo that I describe from the temple burn night September 2nd, 2001 when there was a pretty nasty dust storm leading into the temple burn. If it were not for my santa hat and my friend’s pink wig, it could have been NYC as easily as BRC.


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