Burning Man is a continual week-long process of letting go. There are so many things to get snagged on – the heat, the dust, the wind, the cold, the naked guy if you’re modest, the clothed people if you’re the naked guy, and on and on. Getting snagged and never untangling yourself can be the bandit that steals from you the true experience of Burning Man.

The immediate beauty of Burning Man does not lie in the art or the people or the landscape. The immediate beauty of Burning Man, for each individual, lies in that magical and beautiful moment when you let go of whatever has snagged you and then become present to the apparent and abundant beauty that is the art, the people, and the landscape. It is in this split second of letting go that we set ourselves free.

Outside of Burning Man, we have many options to manipulate, control and rule over our mini-universes. We tweak the volume control, air-conditioning dial, snooze button, or broil knob all to be comfortable. However, if we stopped tweaking the knobs, just for one second, something magical might happen. Leave the heater alone… in a little while you’re cold. However, listen quietly and realize “YOU’RE FEELING SOMETHING!!!” We go about our lives trying to eradicate any possible discomfort and we end up feeling nothing at all.

At Burning Man, this abrupt inability to control one’s environment can come as a shock. Some are never quite able to revive themselves. They return home and think “Well that was interesting, but way too _________.” (Fill in the blank – but it’s usually something no one can control, like dirty or noisy).

On the playa, you pretty much have access to only one knob and there are two settings: ON or OFF. You choose.

Choose OFF and you’re snagged. Complaint mode. No fun. No freedom. No play. Just general irritation and a gravity-like urge to hide in your tent.

Choose ON and you choose to let go – to be free. You untangle yourself from whatever it is that’s out of your control. You realize that the dust storm, or the strange guy, or the blazing sun is actually your golden ticket. They’re your access to feeling something, to experience something, to be set totally free and be completely present to the beauty surrounding you.

Me. I choose ON…. and on and on and on.

by Kristin White Slye

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.