It’s okay to be miserable at Burning Man

I wish someone had told me that before my first year at Burning Man.  Or my second.  I figured it out myself on my third.

We’re under 100 days ’till Burning Man. People are excited – and they want it to be contagious.

So do I. This year’s going to be awesome.   But in that well meaning spirit I’ve recently been asked: “why don’t you use the blog to be more positive? You should only write stories to get people fired up about Burning Man! Why don’t you stick to that instead of talking about negative stuff?”

Well I’ve already said that there’s too much goddamn positive energy at Burning Man.  I stand by that.  It’s also true that Burning Man affects me profoundly in ways that are challenging and difficult.   I’m guaranteed at least two existential crises every Burn, and they were much worse before I realized that they weren’t a result of my doing something wrong at Burning Man – they were just part of the experience.  I’ve heard similar confessions from a lot of people.

But I’d really like to answer that question with a true story.

Two years ago. I was walking through the desert, across the open playa in the early afternoon. It was hot, and I was very, very unhappy.

I don’t remember why, anymore, but I remember what that mood felt like. It would have been depression if I hadn’t been so angry, so resentful. I wanted to bite someone. I wanted to yell at someone. I wanted to punch you in the face. You, personally.

I think I was heading over to one of the Irish bars. I wanted to start a bar fight. Right now.

Out in the middle of the dust I saw four desks separated from a small line of people by a velvet rope. Three men were at the desks, and a fourth was behind a small podium managing the line.

The bouncer spotted me. “Hello sir!” he shouted. “Is there anything you need?”

“Fuck your day!” I shouted back.

“Anything? A building permit? A fishing license?”

I stopped to look at him.

“A Marriage license?” he asked. “A divorce?”

Curiosity can cut through hate. “Wait … what … exactly …?”

He flashed a badge. “We’re the Bureau of Needless Bureaucracy, sir! We handle all of Black Rock City’s paperwork! So if you need an environmental waiver, or a non-conforming use permit, we’re here to help!”

I thought about it. I could start a bar fight half-an- hour later. “I …” I took a deep breath. “I want a divorce.”

“A divorce!” He beamed. “Very good, sir! We can handle that right away. I’ll just give you a ticket and you can go in and get that processed immediately!”

Nothing happened.

“Ummmmm,” I said. “Where’ the ticket?”

“Oh, I’m on a break now,” he said. “Someone will be with you shortly.”

Past the velvet rope, other visitors sitting at a desk jumped up to their feet and shouted happy shouts. They shook the man at the desk’s hands, and walked off. He sat there, twiddling his thumbs, waiting for someone to come over.

“Can I just go in there and …”


“But he’s …”

“You have to get a ticket, and that has to come from approved personnel, and I’m on a mandated 15 minute break. Sorry, but, if I ever take up smoking this will be really important.”

I fished around in my pack. “Sure is hot out here,” I said.

“Yeah,” he agreed. Sweat was pouring off his bare chest.

I pulled out a juice box. “Interested?”

His eyes narrowed. “Yeah.” He reached out.

I pulled it away.

He took a deep breath. “Okay,” he said, holding out a ticket. “But, if anybody asks … I only gave this to you because you’re a fellow member of the Meatpackers Union.”

I nodded solemnly. “Solidarity forever.”

We traded. I walked inside. I walked over to the free desk. I sat down.

The man behind it beamed at me. I would later learn his name was Noodles. “Hello sir! What can I do for you this fine day!”

I glared at him. “I want a divorce.”

He inhaled sharply. “Oh, I’m sorry sir, that has to be processed over there first.” He pointed at one of the other desks.

I’d kinda figured that would happen. “All right.”

“Thank you sir!” he shouted as I walked over to the other desk. There were people there, who were trying to get a permit to add a pool to their theme camp. After a minute they were sent over to the third desk, and I sat down.


“I want to start a divorce proceeding.”

“Oh great, can I see your 508(d)6?”

“My what?”

“The proper form, sir! To start the procedure!”

“I don’t … have … the form.”

“Well, to start the divorce procedure I need to have a 508(d)6 signed by that man.” He pointed at Noodles.

“Ah … right where I came from.”

“That’s right, sir!”

“He couldn’t have told me that before I came over?”

“I wouldn’t know, sir.”

“All right.”

I got up and walked back over to Noodles. “I need you to sign a … sign a … um, the divorce form.”

“Great! Can I see it?”

“I don’t have it. You’re supposed to give it to me.”

He shook his head. “No no. I’m supposed to sign it. But you get it …” he pointed to the third desk, where the people who wanted the swimming pool were now, “over there.”

“Right.” I nodded. “Right. And … is there anything else I should know about?”

“I don’t think so.”

“No other reason I might need to come back here after I’ve gone over there but before I get the paperwork?”

“I doubt it.”

“… okay.”

I walked over to the third desk.

But apparently I needed a paperwork permission form, available at the second desk, to get the paperwork from the third desk to be signed at the first desk. But the man at the second desk wouldn’t give it to me until I filled out a performance evaluation he could show his supervisor. When that was done, I took it back to the third desk, but the man there wouldn’t give me the form until I filled out one of those sweet, sweet, performance evaluations he heard I was handing out like candy.

It went on like this. A few trips around later I found myself back, with the correct tokens in hand (really just small bits of re-used paper they were marking up and sending around), at the third desk.

He gave me a shit-eating grin. “So,” he said. “Let’s get started. What’s your wife’s name?”

“I’m not married.”

“Oh.”  He considered.  “Husband?”

I shook my head.

“Then … who do you want to divorce?”

I leaned forward. “All of humanity.”

He had not seen that coming. “Um … what?”

“All mankind,” I said, my bitterness erupting. “All humanity. All members of this revolting and fallible species that always disappoint me! I want this document to serve as an eternal testimony to my loathing for the human weakness that each and every one of us succumbs to every day when we could be so much better. I want a divorce to serve as a gesture of my contempt to people everywhere!”

God that felt so good!

“Whoa,” he said. He leaned back in his chair. He thought about it for a minute.

“Look,” he said, gesturing to his left. “If that’s the way you feel … we’ve got a spare desk. Would you like a job here?”

“ … Oh god more than anything in the world …”

“Great!” He stood up. “Hey Noodles!” he called. “We’re hiring this guy!”

“That guy?”

“Yeah! He really, really, hates all humanity!”

“Great! When can he start!”

“Right now,” I said.

“Right now!” he shouted.

“Great!” Noodles called back. “Has he filled out the health care forms?”

Ten minutes later I was sitting behind the fourth desk, and people like me who had been walking through the desert and saw the velvet rope were coming over to get the proper paperwork for their weddings and funerals.

I stayed four hours, until they closed for the night. They invited me back the next day, and I came.

Best reason to get a sunburn ever. One of the highlights of all my years at Burning Man.

Now, I tell you this … and it makes Burning Man sound fun and exciting, right? Well, it does for me.

But this story isn’t any good if you just summarize it. You have to tell it. And telling it truthfully involves starting with a simple fact: I was at Burning Man and I was very, very, unhappy.

It happens. A lot. And that’s okay. It can be wretched out there, and miserable, and my best advice for first timers (besides sunscreen and water) is that it’s okay to admit to yourselves that you’re frightened and lonely if, in fact, you are.  You’re not doing anything wrong.  Don’t deny it:  make it a starting point.   Being honest and direct about it gets you through faster and makes things more interesting.  And interesting is what makes Burning Man worth it.

What happened in that story isn’t just that I had fun: it’s that I was given an opportunity to channel my vicious depression and make it something amazing. If I hadn’t been angry, I wouldn’t have been walking by. If I hadn’t been miserable, I wouldn’t have said what I did.

If I hadn’t been honest about what was really going on with me (theatrically honest, I’ll grant you, but honest), then I would never have had the chance to sit behind that desk.

Nor was the point of what they were doing to be fun and nice to people: it was to waste their time for absolutely no reason or reward.  It worked so well precisely because it wasn’t benign.  Much of Burning Man isn’t.  I think the fact that Burning Man doesn’t try to be benign is one of the reasons these once-in-a-lifetime events happen all the time out there.

Burning Man deserves cheerleaders.  But if we’re going to be honest, let alone insightful, about presenting Burning Man to ourselves and others then we have to talk about the challenging parts too – on and off playa.

It’s okay to for us to admit how down we can get at Burning Man – its’ a feature, not a bug.

Caveat is a lifetime member of the Bureau of Needless Bureaucracy, and Volunteer Coordinator for Media Mecca at Burning Man.  His opinions are in no way statements of the Burning Man organization.  Contact him at Caveat (at)

About the author: Caveat Magister

Caveat is Burning Man's Philosopher Laureate. A founding member of its Philosophical Center, he is the author of The Scene That Became Cities: what Burning Man philosophy can teach us about building better communities, and Turn Your Life Into Art: lessons in Psychologic from the San Francisco Underground. He has also written several books which have nothing to do with Burning Man. He has finally got his email address caveat (at) burningman (dot) org working again. He tweets, occasionally, as @BenjaminWachs

29 Comments on “It’s okay to be miserable at Burning Man

  • look dude, i have been looking for a ticket for months to no avail and was told to comment on this stupid post. which form do i have to fill out to get a god damned ticket?! dont you know about my camp and the awesome shit we do?! do you know who the fuck i am??? BM will be DEAD without me there. you fuckers OWE me!!!

    Report comment

  • La says:

    Awesome story!!

    Report comment

  • Mustard says:

    I lol’d! :)

    Report comment

  • harinama says:

    Last year was the most emotionally demanding of all 7 trips to BRC i’ve made. My marriage fell apart (finally), my car broke down on the way, and at points i was as sad as i’ve ever been in my life.

    I came away with 2 words from my experience last year that changed my life forever (in a good way)..

    LET GO.

    Burning Man teaches us to let go of the outdated unfulfilling aspects of our life, and imagine and embody our own perfection in our life.

    In this way, last year at BM was also the best ever, forcing me to re-evaluate everything in my life and decide what I want for once.

    Report comment

  • Flabio says:

    Please do not post comments to this forum until all the required paperwork is submitted and approved.

    Report comment

  • Larry Welz says:

    I always say that if you don’t have at least one episode of utter & complete “what the fuck am I doing here?” despair; you’re doing it wrong, or at least you’re missing part of the BM experience. It’s a full spectrum. But nobody listens to me.
    The playa is a lonely place. It’s not about having fun. It’s about being amazed.

    Report comment

  • Dirt Wheel says:

    Yes, we are listening. And I agree and understand being miserable. If we all could be so fortunate to be miserable on the playa. That’s when you know your getting your monies worth. If your in to that. It’s the turning around, and the opening up that makes the presence of misery worth wild. It could be months later. But it does surface and you WILL know where it it came from. The underlining feeling is, if the coaster goes on without a hitch it’s nothing more than going from point A to point B. BUT when it comes dangerously close to coming off the tracks, well………..perf! Now we have something! Soooooo, here’s to being miserable in the moment. Hold tight.

    Report comment

  • Too much time on the computer says:

    Negative emotion there? Hell yeah Big Time anger for me the first burn 2003. Just as the man was about to fall, an inner circle permit camera guy set up six feet in front of my front row, frozen in place, serious camcorder on my own tripod, set as low as possible in consideration of those behind me. He yelled back at us very aggressively in response to our begging, and even charged up to one of us using threatening body and verbal language. I seriously wanted to kick his tripod over and kick his ass. I was doing the work for a friend, and that made the anger about three times more intense.
    SO . .
    The personal interaction games like BRC BNB are one of the better things about BRC. It is cool Caveat got to mix his angst with an interactional situation with others.
    Say, Caveat could have been had by some pranksters near my camp (rumor has it it was Animal Control). They amassed near the porta potties, waited for their clueless victim to close the door behind himself. They swooped in, rolled out a red carpet to a podium, lined the path shoulder to shoulder so there was no escape. When the guy opened the door, they all cheered, and coerced the guy to the podium, gave him a trophy, and demanded a speech. Caveat, do ya think you would have given a speech in that situation?

    Report comment

  • Rally says:


    Report comment

  • Caveat Magister says:

    @Too much time …

    That’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard.

    You never know what you’ll do until the moment strikes you. But I like to think I would have given not just a speech, but an oration worthy of Odysseus, who spent 20 years after the Trojan War trying to find a bathroom.

    Report comment

  • Joshypants says:

    OMG. I SO AGREE with you. Burning Man is less a giant art party and more of a mirror of life in the real world. Happy, sad, pissed….all of it is part of the experience. Otherwise it would be boring as people who have never been think that it is. LOL.

    I really like your story. What a great experience. I love that kind of interaction at BM. Take care of yourself man…and be there. Always be there. Hating and loving it.

    Report comment

  • oh yes. and more yes after the fuck your day. seriously the best and most confusing and therefore excellently memorable experiences on the playa was stumbling on what I have come to refer to as the old school burner art installation out near the trash fence. I don’t know who that guy was, or if it was real or a joke or what, but he sat out there and set fire to things with a flamethrower, yelled at anyone who came up and asked him what he was doing, and then handed them the flamethrower instructing them to torch various perfectly useful object he had sitting around his camp fire.

    We hung out with him for a while, the things he was doing made no sense, they were dangerous, and I had the definite feeling that someone should stop that man…but that’s the thing about being out there. there is no one to stop him. unless he points the flamethrower at you we will only encourage that sort of behavior. if that man wants to sit around yelling at people and setting fire to pallets full of perfectly usable toilet paper then that is what he gets to do. that’s his art.

    his art was making me go wtf? over and over for hours. years later I am still trying to figure out the point of his installation. it confronts me still. it was not pretty, or nice. he smelled bad, and the whole thing just seemed like an accident waiting to happen. he said mean things, he did not seem to be kidding, and he tried to get you to help him wantonly destroy his camp. it did not seem fun, it seemed necessary. and so you helped.

    that, and the people with the grilled cheese sandwiches who are rude and serve coffee at night in the middle of the desert. these are a few of my favorite things. oh, and bastards like you.

    Report comment

  • Confused says:

    Hell yes. I often walk around BRC miserable and angry. I don’t have a story nearly as epic as Magister’s, but one day I’m walking down Esplanade, just completely scowling, glaring at all the beautiful people walking by, all blissed out.

    A beautiful SparklePony sees me
    Pony: Oh shit. Do you … need a hug?
    Me: *grumble*
    Pony: or just a high five?
    Me: …okay…
    Pony: A hug?
    Me: fine.
    Pony: hooray!

    TL;DR: Angry faces made pretty people talk to me.

    Report comment

  • Bama says:

    Ahh, Caveat, you never cease to amaze me with your writing.

    The BEST advice I got, prior to going to the playa the first time, was to let go of any expectations I had and be aware that with it would come the full spectrum of emotions. So when it hit, I was prepared. One of my best moments at Burning Man was sitting at the Temple (after storming off from my own camp in an angry huff), sobbing so hard my body shook, hot and tired and angry and sad and just wanting to LEAVE that godforsaken desert. So I wrote it all down, and taped it to the Temple, and LET IT GO. It was one of the most powerful lessons burning has taught me.

    Report comment

  • Rocket says:

    I love these guys!
    It took 2 hours to register my manikin head at the BNB.
    The next morning she got stolen!
    Damn you thieves!

    Report comment

  • Level says:

    My first year I had a similar experience. I had just gone through a horrible breakup with my girlfriend prior to leaving on what I thought would be a spiritual awakening.
    I had no idea…
    I worked for a theme camp building for 4 days straight before the gates opened, and as a first timer, I did not take care of myself. I went way too hard for 5 days straight, and by mid week, all I wanted to do was get the hell out of this god forsaken place. Wendsday morning I woke up early and decided I needed to get as far away from my camp mates as possible. My “plan” was to head to the temple and think for a while. Every negetive emotion I had built up came out of me. Anger. Resentment. Sorrow. Guilt. Betrayal. Sadness.
    After I bawled my eyes out for a few hours, I headed to deep playa to check out art. I came across a row of porto potties way past the normal locations. Confused, yet happy they were there, I got in line with the rest of the clientele.
    Or so I thought…
    There must have been 15 or so people in line, and some random guy says to me, “I’m waiting for my girlfriend, that one is open. Go ahead my friend.” so I approach the closest green light and opened the door.
    To nothing but open desert.
    I started laughing my ass off and turned to these a holes appulading me. They immediately gave me a big ol group hug and told me “it’s ok man, we have been doing this all morning!” Absolutely brilliant. My sadness evaporated and all was good in the world. It was like a cold shower had been rained upon me, and I finally woke up.

    Report comment

  • Too much time on the computer says:

    It is a shame that the Greeters can no longer spank virgins. That was a nice combination of mischief, affection, sexuality, and torture all ambiguously rolled up into one.

    Report comment

  • Dusty Rusty says:

    My third year. Three of us had been before…4 were noobs and family. The mothership rv died in Sacramento. We crammed stuff I one of the noobs/bro-in-laws truck to handle the first 24 hours or so. I stayed behind hoping the mothership could be fixed. No go. I get a ride back to the bay and take an SUV to Sac to cram the most important stuff from the RV to the SUV. Working alone for several hours, I hurt my back and my recovering from surgery knee.

    I meet up with the late East Coast fly-in in Reno. I’m in pain. I have more surgery in 3 weeks on the other knee. I want to stay in Reno. I’m convinced to try 24 hours on the playa.

    We are missing some things. The tiki head golf cart has been damaged in the RV death. To prevent MOOP, we wrap it in plastic. We are rejected by DMV. Not just for the wrap. We needed to obscure the vehicle more. OK, but I’m in pain. I can’t get on a bike due to back and knee pain. I try to get a disability license by going to the med tent….but I know what my problems are…there’s no reason to have an X-ray to verify my disc bulge…I’ve had it for years….when I overwork it, it flares up. I check with a friend at First Camp, but he can’t get me a disability license. Back at DMV they tell me I’m not being very Burner by trying to ‘pull strings’. I think I’m just trying to solve a problem. I hate DMV.

    I drive my cart back to camp and park it…except for porta potty trips…because we’re parked too far for me to walk and I really can’t ride a bks.

    I spend the remainder of the week in camp supporting the family/nOObs. I see a whole different Burn. The DJ across the street is amazin and spins all day and a lot of the night. his camp loves the frozen pops we take over late in the week. the neighbors become the entertainment of my Burn.

    I beg a ride to the Man burn from a neighbor. I drive my SUV to the edge of the Esplanade and sit in a chair what seems miles away from the Temple burn.

    I get home and refer to it as the worst burn ever. I get more knee surgery and treatment for my back (nothing like a cortisone shot in the spine.).

    my burn sucked. But there was that awesome DJ across the street….the crazy Canucks next door who ran low on food and almost cried over the pound of bacon we gave them. The nice art car family across the street who take me to the man burn. The guy who went to my high school a few sites away who shared his absinthe with me. The family/nOObs in our camp who found BMan amazing.

    So maybe it didn’t suck. Maybe it was just different.

    I learned a couple of things. I’m driven to design a mutant vehicle the DMV folks weep at its artistry for 2012. Well, ok, I’ll settle for it just passing inspection. I worry that I should apply for a disability permit for 2012. But that seems defeatist. On the other hand, the long road to the playa can break you. Maybe I should be prepared for injury and pain.

    But I know I won’t. I’ll roll the dice. Maybe I’ll be stuck in my camp again, hidden from my playa friends since I’m not in a placed camp. But I’ll make some new ones. I know how to keep shit frozen all week with dry ice, so my neighbors will enjoy some late week treats. And the lost,and the explorers, wandering might wander past on shave ice day. So I come to participate even if I can’t circumnavigate.

    Fuck you Burning Man.
    Fuck you, DMV.
    fuck you, expectations.

    Report comment

  • joe says:

    here here Homey and all the folks back home

    Report comment

  • G says:

    Ya know Dusty, you just reconnected me with the fact that indeed one can go to Burning Man, just stay in camp, and a great time is still guaranteed. 2008 with monstrous city layout and a playa that was too loose to bike on, I did l lots of stay near the camp time and it was good.

    Report comment

  • Stagger says:

    HOLY COW, DUDE… I had one of the best times of my life on the playa that came about the exact same way.

    I was pissed and depressed and wanted to write in my journal without being bothered. I walked down to Center Camp and sat down at a desk they had set up there that had a big sign over it that said “COMPLAINTS” – which was freaking funny, by the way.

    So I am writing in my journal, and these folks come over and say, “Are you taking complaints?”

    I look at them like.. ‘are you serious”.. and I get that they are. So I turn to a blank page and say, “YES I AM.”

    From that minute on, for the next 6 hours, I took people’s complaints. And I had a ball.

    By the time I stopped, my frustration was gone and I was HAPPY that I actually made a difference to lots of other people who got to vent, gripe, moan, question, and generally let go of their bitchiness to someone with a non-judgemental ear.

    I enjoyed it so much I wrote up all the complants and dropped em on my website.

    If you care.. they are here:

    What’s the real lesson? I don’t know.. but for me. Embrace the misery.. and see where it takes you.

    Report comment

  • Caveat, Your misery is always so entertaining and you have a wonderful way of sharing quirky but solid insight.

    I had some moments of “what the fuck am I doing here.” I was grumpy and annoyed with everything. I probably would have joined you in a bar fight or the BMIR – Monticello battle if I knew about it.

    I pride myself on being honest and not letting petty bullshit bother me, but in true Black Rock City style, I was out of my comfort zone and the city was showing me that I’m not as tough and even-keeled as I think I am. When I’m faced with a crisis or some difficulty, I withdraw, strip away emotion and do my best to solve the problem logically.

    That was out the window in BRC. I cried like a baby in the temple, I walked around grumpy. That is until a giant tree was being driven down a street and I won Burning Man and cheered others on as they did. I shouted Shakespearean Macho Man Randy Savage-isms to a man being pulled in a chariot.

    A few times when I felt grumpy, I retreated to center camp and relaxed in the shade. Another time I was there in the evening and a very attractive girl asked if I would help bring her friend’s bike back to her camp. I rode the friend’s bike and she rode hers. I think I missed an … “opportunity” at her camp, but I was in a good mood again after being useful. She gave me a glowing, blinking palm tree or something, which I gave away after.

    Burn night I was with some people who were engrossed in Enchanted Woods (right? The wooden tree things) to notice the burn was getting close, I felt myself getting grumpy so I walked toward the man. Someone handed me a glow necklace thing then vanished. I smiled and walked over to the man watching the show before and the fucker burn after.

    As soon as I thought I was never going to be challenged again, BRC slapped me in the face. My biggest challenge in life — personally and professionally — is getting over some big childhood problems. I spent decades avoiding them and only recently started addressing my issues, but Black Rock City really FORCED me to confront them.

    This time will probably be the same. I’m looking forward to an epic haboob or two, brutal heat, dust, annoying people, long lines to get in and out of the city …

    And, have a fucking horrible day.

    Report comment

  • simon of the playa says:

    i hate this post.

    im going to read it again, and possibly share it on facebook, so others can hate it too.

    keep up the bad work, fucko…

    Report comment

  • DSpace says:

    The worst time I had at Burning Man was when I realized that I couldn’t do everything but even if I picked just one thing to do and gave up everything else it still can totally fail. I sat and sobbed. Nobody liked me, nobody cared, I was a fake and failure.

    This sounds like disappointment but it was my 3rd year on the Playa and I had gotten used to stuff not happening as scheduled. No this was more like dressing up for the party and the building is empty when you get there. I literally had gone to the bathroom (its own adventure at BM) and when I got back they had came and went. I had an awesome time with them the year before but you can’t step in the same river twice. You have to learn how to ask “what new thing can I do next?”

    Coming up on my 6th year on the Playa, and I breakdown every year. If I don’t get so emotionally overloaded that I break down sobbing I am not doing my burn right. You need to swim out beyond the boundries, you have to bring your whole self and then leave it behind because of something new. You have to learn that if one lifechanging awesome experience leaves you behind there will be another along in just a few minutes.

    Report comment

  • Nomad says:

    Good advice. No doubt, being out there entails much wider swings of mood and emotion than a lot of folks are used to. You gotta hang in there with the lows, cause the highs are worth it. Just hang in there and go with the flow. It doesn’t all happen at once. Relax and don’t feel that the very first day at burning man has to be the best thing that ever happened to you ever. It builds. By the end, if you’ve done it right, you’ll be changed.

    Report comment

  • G says:

    Burning Man is all about having an intense experience. If you are having only ecstasy ( not talking the drug here), it is nowhere near the ecstasy you experience if you experience agony to put it all in context. That is why the ordeal of the harsh weather, white outs, 14/7 overstimulation, is what amplifies the fun out there. That is why I chose to live as spartan as possible out there, in a tent, no ice or heated food. It makes the fun more fun.

    Report comment

  • Cheese Simon says:

    Great post, superbly written.

    I think it’s great to have these personal stories. I remember before my first burn reading in the Survival Guide or somewhere that BM can be a real challenge on relationships on the playa. Naively, I thought that didn’t affect me in my 10-year relationship. So we practically split up at the point where the Man fell, it was awful and I had a terrible burn night. The next morning I was out early, channelling my dark mood into picking up MOOP and I remember hearing “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips from the “Wilson Phillips Pancake Breakfast” drifting out across the playa. It made me smile and that was the route back to happiness.

    The next year, the burn and the Man falling was perfect and all the more special because we could look each other in the eyes and remember how different it was a year ago.

    So let’s hear more of this stuff because it’s stories like those above that might get through to people that BM isn’t just a 24/7 party as opposed to a rather clinical “BM can be emotionally tough” message. To have a fuller experience, you need a sprinkling of dark times. And if there was ever a place to have them and have yourself surprised in how you might be able to deal with it, it’s BM.

    Report comment

  • mayday says:

    well i went in 2011. i went by myself but was meeting up with a friend in the dmv on the playa. needless to say this friend wasnt a friend and a camp where i was supposed to have food and friends ended up being a place to secretly n quietly take water at night. i came prepared to say the least even by myself with no car i managed to build a dome out of pvc pipe and twist ties that served as my house. i had packaged food for each day same thing beef jerky popcorn water and starburst. not healthy but i was counting on my “friend” 4 food. i have an issue with having enough energy so i decided to stay at my camp during the day and only venture out at night. mainly as i know light zaps energy and id need all i had for my nighttime adventures.

    so each night id get on my bike and ride. i looked at ppl and smiled and tried to look friendly. but each night i looked around and most ppl seemed to already have friends and groups and noone seemed all that inviting.

    riding my bike at night was fun. talking to one artist at her artwork was fun…however the entire time i was there i think i spoke to 5 ppl total each of these ppl was kind of rude and kind of made it seem like i wasnt saying the right things or i wasnt drunk or out of my mind on drugs so it seemed i was no fun. i was offered a granola bar and a mint the entire week i was on the playa. not that i expected handouts but i did hope for more welcoming ppl as a whole.

    i think part of my lesson about y i difnt have a goodtime at burningman was i controlled myself, i prepared and was almost able sans water n porta potties to 100% sustain myself in those conditions without assistance from seriously anyone.

    i think the experiences alot of the ppl have r when they r resortung to relying on others for help because they were unprepared. my friend received a carton of smokes for the access to water that he gave me so that was even. i had made little journals with custom designs on each to handout. i only handed out 1 the entire week.

    Report comment

  • mayday says:

    hit send b4 i checked typos or finished :-D

    i am glad i proved to myself that i could survive but as an artist and music maker and lover i was super disapointed in the quality of music and quality of art. i listened to a lady putting a cardboard cutout of a fin to the top of a golfcart n attaching xmas lights like she was building the empire state building.

    the event seemed to be a place where straightlaced ppl with lots of $$ can run around with no clothes on and pretend to be artists and musicians.

    i also heard lots of ppl discussing stocks finances insurance etc yawnnn even if the ppl at burningman did welcome me with open arms i fear id just fall asleep.

    i dont need a week to be myself or find myself. im an artist 100% and i dont need a huge desert to hide out in or to be a freak in.

    Report comment

  • Comments are closed.