Why Go Home?

Photo by Andrew Penn, 2002, http://www.fogfilm.com I was just thinking recently, very few people have ever asked me WHY i go to Burning Man?

Living in the Bay Area, one becomes accustomed to people having some sort of opinion on Burning Man, and most people are at least aware of it here.

But for people in my life who don’t get it, say, like most of my family, they ask the typical uninformed questions like “What do people do there?,” “Isn’t it hot?” or “Aren’t there a lot of naked people?”


And it’s funny, I’ve switched my attitude completely in how i react to people who criticize and/or make snide comments about Burning Man.

When I was a relative newbie (i.e. the first three years I went to Burning Man … and yes, sometimes it can take THAT long to be fully acclimated), I used to be very defensive about Burning Man and would often argue that ‘no, it isn’t just a bunch of tweaked-out, naked cyber-hippies rolling around in the mud celebrating free love and all that’ — and no offense to those of you who consider yourself tweaked-out naked cyber-hippies who roll around in the mud.

But these days, I have come to realize that there’s no point in defending Burning Man to those who do not know.

Burning Man certainly isn’t for everyone and that’s, frankly, part of its appeal.
Despite the fact that Burning Man seems to feel like it’s becoming one of the world’s largest “exclusive” events, it’s still largely made up of a disproportionate amount of creative folks compared with the ratio in the so-called “real world.” The overabundance of creative participation is directly related to the amount of creative inspiration it conjures in the minds of participants.

I recall my first visit to the playa in 1999. I was in awe within hours after setting foot in Black Rock City. Burning Man was nothing like I expected and yet it completely overwhelmed any potential expectations I had.

I expected a big party, I guess. And in a way, it IS a big party, in that it’s a celebration where all the right people you’d want at a party are there.

Yet, saying Burning Man is just a party is giving it very short shrift. In fact, I HATE that people think it’s just some big party.

It’s a celebration of everything — the art, the people, the creativity, the randomness, the mind-bogging experience, the harshness, the inspiration, the music, the surprises, the disappointments, the reality — and yet so damn hard to truly explain in mere words. Right?

It’s an alternate view of what life could be.

It makes me smile. It makes me stressed. It makes me angry. It makes me ecstatic. It makes me work harder. It’s changed my life.

And that, right there, is WHY I go to Burning Man.

It’s like life, only better. You can feel comfortable knowing you can be as weird and bizarre as you can possibly imagine.

It’s everything I was looking for, even if I didn’t know what I was looking for before I found it. Where everyone is in on the joke, where nothing is what you think it is, where the unexpected becomes the expected.

And to that i say Hell Yes!

Burning Man makes me feel more alive than almost anything else I’ve ever experienced.

You know the saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure?”

Some might say burners are the misunderstood trash of the world. I might say burners are the misunderstood treasures of the world.

We’re recycling those treasures to the masses. And making an impact.

Maybe I am willingly drinking the Kool-Aid being served to me on a platter by the so-called “cult of Burning Man.”

But you know what?

This Kool-Aid tastes better than anything else I’ve ever had.

More Kool-Aid please.

We’ll see you at home.

About the author: timmmii

Tim was not born on a bayou, but he wishes he had, as that would be more romantic. Tim is a writer, editor, picky eater, lighter of some fluids, co-founder of Fireside Storytelling, wannabe statistician, avid bicyclist, host of the radio show Down The Well w/ Timmmii on RadioValencia.fm, fighter, loud, and Burning Man maven since 1999. Tim has other talents too but he prefers to leave you guessing.

13 Comments on “Why Go Home?

  • Sparky says:

    you rock, made me laugh, almost cry

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  • Melissa says:

    Well said…definitely well said.

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  • loa says:

    So, so well put. Thanks for that. I couldn’t have chosen better words myself. Well done Sir!

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  • Playa Patches says:

    your words made my heart beat faster. thanks! I really appreciate your post.

    i wanted to add: i (a three-time relative newbie) went from telling EVERYONE about it because i was so excited to hardly talking about it at all (burners excluded of course). and when it spills out, like at work the other day because someone made a comment about my ever-changing and always beautiful desktop pictures (of BM art of course), i feel so dirty somehow. as if i shared a very beautiful and intimate secret with someone who does not appreciate finer things in life.

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  • Molz says:

    That really touched my soul. I am not going this year because I just had a baby. I have mentioned to several non burners that I am sad to miss the burn this year and they just don’t understand. They act as if I said that I am unhappy that I have my baby. They just don’t understand how intricately the experience is part of me. I will deeply miss that feel of freedom and possiblity that emanates on the playa. I will be thinking of all of you in the coming week and starting my plans for my retun to the playa next year with my little girl in tow.

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  • homer says:



    will there be bacon too?

    i hear rumours of prosciutto as well.

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  • ms st leonards says:

    I just wanted to wish everyone a wonder fuelled Burning Man. My friend is going and i’m stuck back home in Oz. Hope u see this message Houston Texas – missing u so much!!!
    Next year!!!
    Love ms st leonards

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  • Brunokpf says:


    I too could not make it out to the Playa this year and it hurt. Like I lost someone dear. You can’t explain it and I have givin up tying. When I hear a snide remark or comment I just agree and say yeah its awful, you would hate it. You have to be willing to take a chance, be awake, be open, be closed, it is an individual sport. Luckily there are a lot of individuals!!!

    Burn on!!!

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  • joebob says:

    wow—i am a 47 yr young male with a kid in college,one in high school and one in middle school—-i am very new to the burning man concept as i stumbled across it from a news website —as i read some of the blogs i find myself wondering what it will take for me to get to the festival —-about 10 more years when the kids are outta school and a ton of convincing to my beutiful bride of 20+ yrs — also seems to require a lot of research which looks like it can be found on numerous sites and blogs —camping–water rationing–dust storms —-can’t i just stay at one of the casinoes in Reno and commute!!!—just kidding—-wouldn’t want to miss out on the chance to use a real life outdoor crapper !!—–maybe i sound a little crass because i see where this is a great festival for the 20somethings and it looks like i missed my chance —-but maybe—–down the road —-you never know —–you could be seein’ ole joebob when he hits the big 6—0—– what a birthday present for myself —-i’ll just tell the wife i’ve gone fishin’—-by that time she’ll be more than willing to get rid of me for a week —look forward to hearin from you burners and don’t be surprised if i show up one day —-gotta find a place for my RV Clark —till next time —-JB

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  • Tigerlily says:

    This made me laugh and at parts almost cry.
    I seem to do that a lot since I got back.

    Thanks for writing this!

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  • Stagger says:

    JOEBOB… would love to see you out there!!! Missed your chance?!! No way. I’m a 7 year burner this year, and at 53 I’m still loving the experience. 20 somethings… yeah, there are plenty of them, but you know… in my experience.. they don’t seem to be the majority. Then again, I’m a terrible judge of age. I’ve found that, if you scratch the surface, there’s a bunch of 30 somethings building infra-structure, 40 somethings making art, 50 somethings adding knowledge, and 60 somethings tossing in wisdom and wonder. (And then the senior center bus comes through, and they all love it too.)

    Let the wife stay home if it’s not her thing. Take that week… one week out of your whole life… and come out and find out what’s really going on. You’ll go back changed, I promise. (And the next year you’ll bring the kids along)

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  • Doug Boyd says:

    Having been apart of the various events in years past and always aware of BM and it’s energetic draw…at 41 I am very excited to finally be heading to BM 2008.

    It feels as if I am going home to see friends and family I am connected with but haven’t seen in this life yet.

    With every day getting closer I feel the energy building inside and the anticipation in levels I have never felt before. Like living inside of a huge plastic bag and it is slowing being opened to allow fresh air to seep in.

    See you all at home soon.


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  • PIKO! says:

    why go home?
    so i can survive another year in the “default world.”
    until the next burn.

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