It has been a long journey to get there. Long years and long distances, and as anything so encompassing in life, one forgets why one started in the first place. I am 35 now, so some 18 years had passed between my mother finding me playing football with friends on a gray November day. She came to tell me that my father had hung himself. It is a bitter pill that I have never been able to completely swallow. He was a funny, gentle, wonderful man.

All this time later I found myself wandering outside the Temple of Tears, and somebody I had never met before told me a story about why it had been built. Friends and I had seen the temple the night before and were amazed — more like shocked — that somebody would build such an incredible structure and erect it on the Playa. We did not know what it meant, but it was so complex and beautiful in the playa half-light of midnight.

Standing right there the next afternoon, covered with dust, I understood that I had arrived at a wonderful oasis on my journey. I was aware that this man telling this story about his great loss had told this story many times before, but within his words I found rest. I remember he said that here on the Playa we face things without judgment that the world will not face at all. It is sad that in this world one would have to go to a barren desert with a bunch of “misfits” to finally find understanding and solace. So hard is the reality of our everyday lives.

Well I lost my long-held composure, and this man came to me and asked if I was alright and grabbed my hand and looked into my eyes to make sure. His honesty and his compassion were palpable. I went into the temple and wrote on the blocks and cried on the alter and other people cried with me and we held each other. After that, I have had a calm inside me that I have very rarely known. Although I didn’t even talk to anybody in the temple, I owe them a debt of gratitude for the care and concern they expressed. Within those temple flames went such pain and shame and confusion, I cannot say. Thank you Black Rock City.

by Bevan Corry

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.