I left San Rafael about 8PM with my friends Chris and Kathy Sue. After a stop at a casino in Reno, we headed into the desert. The dry lake bed is in the upper West corner of Nevada, high mountains and 2000 acres of nothing but fine alkali dust, like walking on coarse flour. The heat stayed about 100 to 110 in the shade most of the day with the nights dropping to 55 or so.
We spent about an hour after leaving the highway going through a couple of small towns and nothing to come into a glow from the 15 thousand people already there. From bedrolls to million dollar motor homes, and absolutely everything in between. I won’t bore you with photos as there are many, many web sites you can visit.
We pulled into camp as the mountain peaks let little slivers of light through their grasp. The valley started to glow and within minutes thousands of cheers and music filled the air, not from those rising from a night’s rest, but those still up, waiting for a sign to retire for the day. The heat comes on like a furnace on overdrive. There is just nothing you can do as hot fingers of dry desert heat grasp everything like an octopus, heat is everywhere, shade becomes a battlefield and water is the weapon of choice as you begin to realize you have never felt such a pure form of Mother Nature’s warmth.
Lay naked in the desert and you will become dehydrated in a few hours, your skin will crack in a day and you will die some time in the night. Mother Nature takes no prisoners. Your only chance of survival is water, water with shade and you will survive, water, shade, food, music, wild cars, crazy costumes, six foot motorized hobby horses, 25,000 people, non stop motion and every chemical known to the back rooms of nightclubs and you have Burning Man. You survive, you survive with the feeling of 25,000 warm and caring souls who have all come to the desert to celebrate life, to celebrate art, personal expression, group expression and each other. 25,000 people holding hands without touching, talking without words and loving each other for just being.
Burning Man cannot be expressed with words or photos, it cannot be recorded nor played back except in the minds of the participants, each version is unique and ever changing. Burning Man is an experience that recharges the soul like an old bicycle pump you thought was broken, the vast nothing swells to become everything, your soul fills to the brim and you realize while old bicycle pump may look rough, some may have thrown it away and others would pass it by, it still works, it pumps up your soul so you may ride among the others that already know what a powerful place this is. One more stroke and the tire fills with air, a little whoosh, the pump is off the valve and you are free, riding on a cloud of love that cannot be seen, that will escape if released, that was placed there through the efforts of many, love that is borrowed without interest and lent expecting no return. I will return to Burning Man. It will never be the same, it will be better, if the rain comes and the wind blows everything away it will be fine, if you can touch it, it really doesn’t matter, if you can hold it, it is not there and if you can see it, it is only an illusion. Burning Man is not words or photos, Burning Man is love, pure love. The sights and sounds are works in a museum. They will change and the next director will place new works in it’s place. New eyes will see what old eyes remember, but it will always be different, so different it will be the same. Hours of preparation, thousands of dollars, all paid for by the soul for there is no money at Burning Man.
Burning Man left me with a feeling of happiness and solution. Burning man is a place of material expression and emotional paints. Broad strokes fill every sense with sounds and sights too varied for any collection, too bold to catalog, too free to contain.
Burning Man takes place nowhere and everywhere. Hover a few inched off the Playa and you will see nothing for many miles. There is nothing, Burning Man is one large blank canvas painted not with oils but energy from the participants that pass through it’s gate. Like holding a rave in a Zen garden, it will return to nature’s peace and violence. It will be drowned by the rains and baked by the sun. But it’s surface will be clean, it is blank above the surface and somewhere cool, quiet and far away it is being prepared once again to rise like a tie dyed phoenix from the desert.
Burning Man has touched me in a way I may never fully understand. I walked through Burning Man with an escort provided by the energy and love of a source that may never be known. The sounds and sights on the Playa paled in comparison, the world had collapsed to one. I spent hours on the Playa my last day there, hours compressed to near seconds so overwhelming that I am afraid to wind the clock nor set the alarm. Time flows through the Playa like molasses in a freezer, a freezer going over the Niagara Falls. I can look though my mind and there will always be my escort standing in the shadows. I hope the sun will shine upon those shadows, I would like to see her face again.
by Super Dave