How To Work Through Feeling Weird After Burning Man

Hi, Burners. If you’re anything like me, this has been a rough week. Re-entry after Burning Man is always strange, and I think it gets stranger every time.

Fortunately, my friend Hannah is getting pretty practiced at dealing with decompression, and she wrote up a list of suggestions she’s shared with us for the Burning Blog. Read on!


by Hannah “Meow” Masius


Today is what I call my “Out of Place” day. I’ve come back from spending over a week at Burning Man, and even while I’m approaching my veteran status with a 4th year completed (and building a camp for others to enjoy to boot), I still have to mentally prepare myself every year for coming “home” to feeling out of place in the default world.

Today, I experienced all of the steps for dealing with the strange feelings after Burning Man, and I came out the other side in a few hours. Here’s how I did it. I hope this list can help people work through their weirdness, continue to be open and honest, and find emotional healing.

1. Let Yourself Feel

If emotions are kept buried, they turn into distorted versions of who you truly are and can expand until they are all-consuming. Let it out in any way you can (and what feels comfortable for you). It’s the best way to start the process. Cry, scream, laugh, whatever feels natural to you will help the most.


2. Write It Out

Go be an absurd pony eating Sadness Pecan and Rage Butter I Scream and write whatever the hell is sticking to your mind, because when it is out, even if it means writing the same thing one thousand times over, it is a release that can help immensely.


3. Go Outside

Coming back to the world outside of the playa can be rough. So many of us are going from constantly being outside and engaged physically (riding bikes and walking) to usually sedentary states inside with various forms of work. We are human beans, such wonderful organic creatures that require sunlight, fresh air and physical engagement in order to function properly. When feeling overwhelmed by being back, give yourself (at least) a five-minute break to go outside to breathe, walk, and decompress. Even if it is raining or snowing, the change of scenery can make everything much calmer.

Burning Man 2011

4. Do Something Wonderfully Absurd

Today, I walked to a store, bought myself a salad, and went to a local park to continue to enjoy the sunshine. I started feeling frustrated at myself because I forgot a fork. Then, I stopped the irritation by remembering that I could eat this salad sloppy style with my bare hands. Digging my hands into kale, beans, salad dressing and avocado to mash it into my face put me into a space of loving myself for doing something slightly out of place with normal behavior.

If you stick by the rigidity of others expectations, it will pull you down. So, whether you wear a unicorn horn for sport or dance through the streets without a care, do something like you are the only person watching, and allow yourself to feel the freedom within your soul.


5. Spend Time With Friends and Loved Ones

In the middle of my hand-to-mouth salad experience, I heard my name called in the distance. All of a sudden, I spotted three friends whom I hadn’t seen since December running towards me with open arms. We descended into a puddle of hugs, cuddles and deep talks that made me remember that close, real people are part of what make life — on and off playa — so special.

Try not to close yourself off from those who care about you. It’s very easy to descend into a mental loop that no one else will understand, but everyone has their issues they are working through, even if they are saving face while doing so. If someone you feel close to ends up dismissing your feelings, that is more indicative of their issues than yours. That can be a way to understand the true value of their closeness (or lack thereof) in your life.

Burning Man 2011

6. Give Yourself Some Love

As my friends were getting ready to leave, they asked if I wanted to join them on their next adventure. I declined, instead choosing to write this article. My version of self-love is continuing to develop my writing practice. Your version of self-love could be singing, dancing, eating good food, seeing a movie, or taking a Long. Hot. Bath. With. Chocolate. It really doesn’t matter what the practice looks like, so long as it comes in the form of savoring your delicious self.


You are not alone, we are here to make the world a better place, and I love you just the way you are. This is what communities are about, my friends. Stay Dusty!

All photos by the incomparable Scott London.

About the author: Jon Mitchell

Jon Mitchell

, a.k.a. Argus, was publisher of the Burning Man Journal, the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter, and the Burning Man website from 2016 to 2019. He joined the Comm Team as a volunteer in 2010 and as year-round staff in 2014. He co-wrote a big story about spending 24 hours at the Temple of Juno in 2012. His first Burn was in 2008.

61 Comments on “How To Work Through Feeling Weird After Burning Man

  • Kaylee says:

    I’d like to reassure anyone decompressing for the first time that weird dreams and waking up extremely disoriented are fairly common symptoms of re-entry. You should not be overly concerned to wake up (for example) unsure of what camp you’re in (your bedroom), how you got there(came home from work and went to bed), or who that naked person in bed next to you is (your partner).

    And as a resident of Camp Envy this year I’m so very jealous of those of you that got to play in the dust. See you in the dust a few years from now.

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  • Crissa says:

    It does seem a bit tough to switch back to the humdrum.

    We also lost a flute in the deep playa beyond the mayan temple… If anyone found a bamboo flute or knows where it is, please tell us.

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  • I felt compelled to tell you that I love you too. Your final paragraph made me cry and I needed that. Thank you.

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  • Jennifer (Jenzo) says:

    Thank you. I did not go this year and feel (have felt) displaced regardless. I felt the heaviness of not going blanket over me. Beautiful are your words for all of us, regardless.

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  • Kim says:

    woah, I’m back from my first burn, and I have totally been having weird dreams. Every night since I’ve been back I’ve sat up in bed wondering where I am

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  • Kelli says:

    This was my 3rd time and for some reason I’m having a very hard time coming back this time. I’ve been restless, queasy, anxious and despite being very tired I haven’t been able to sleep well and I’ve been having dreams of being back in the dust every single night. Yesterday I finally went back to work and my strange feelings seem to be subsiding a bit since I’ve been keeping my mind engaged, but I do believe that it does get stranger every time you come back. I do think that the things listed above are all important to a smooth transmission back to reality. Good Luck to everyone on a successful and easy re-entry !

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  • B says:

    I got a tattoo and wrote a poem about the playa. My first BM was the most difficult to decompress fun. Now you can start planning for the next one. Peace

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  • Mathilde says:

    Thank you SOOOO much for this. This is very helpful and I will defintively have a hot bath with chocalate singing my favorite song!! thank you again for this wonderful present.
    With love,


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  • LadyAmalthea says:

    OMG Kaylee, THANK YOU SO MUCH for writing that! I wish I had been warned, they are beyond strange and apparently don’t stop. After a while, the weirdness ended though, and now I cherish them. <3


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  • Joseph Hatfield says:

    I don’t understand this need to decompress. You went to the playa and had a good time for a week. Why does invoke unpleasantness afterwards?

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  • MorTisha says:

    i missed this year (about to drop another baby burner) but have been out the last 10 years. want to reassure folks that it gets easier. as the “burner” you and the “default” you become more and more the same person, and as it becomes easier to “burn” year round in whatever way burning man speaks to you most, the easier it is to transition between worlds. <3

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  • Sonia says:

    My heart grew on the playa and I’ve felt more loving connections with everyone I come into contact with…like I’m very much on the right wavelength…(“in the flow).

    I feel like I took the consciousness that was cultivated there with me into my real life (an extension of the Black Rock City experience) and look forward to going back to recharge each year.

    I think balance is a good intention to keep throughout the experience of Burning Man and beyond…

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  • cyd says:

    Those of us who are regular attendees/devotees at the Kerrville Folk Festival can definitely relate. Only difference is that our Big Folk is 18 days and some of us kerrverts stay a whole month. Our readjustment to this ‘unreal world takes about 3 weeks, but it never completely goes away. Big folk has been happening since 1972. This yr was my 17th year :)

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  • Alexis says:

    This year was my first, and I’ve been looking for this article since I returned to the default world feeling hopelessly lost. Thank you for writing it.

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  • G says:

    I have this hypothesis about one possible contributing factor. You are literally coming down off of a week long drug high. That drug is adrenaline.

    I find the relative impersonality of default world hard to take after experiencing the loving community and immediacy of social opportunity of the temporary autonomous zone known as Black Rock City. I was in a tent, with friends and others always present, and personal. Out here in default we are all enclosed and separate from one another in our telecommunications, cars, apartments, and houses.

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  • Blaze says:

    I’m an 8 time burner and agree with the other veterans who said it DOES get easier. Hang in there.

    I look at burning man as fuel- when I get home to the default world, I have more fuel for my life than I had before. I use that fuel as inspiration to make changes in my normal life than align me more closely with what I value about the playa.

    Example: A few days ago I decided to -legally- change my middle name to my playa name. That’s a tangible change that reflects the ongoing melding of my playa identity with my default identity.

    Another piece of advice: channel that extra energy into intense physical exertion- preferably with loud music on your ear buds. Running up hills, tons of pullups, pushing myself on my bike- they all give me a -positive- outlet for that extra fuel.

    If your life isn’t satisfying in some acute way- use this new clarity and fuel to make decisive changes. Do this before the magic playa dust wears off…

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  • Bun E. Luv says:

    I had a great burn and am lucky to be feeling great after returning to The Real World. As a female burner who follows the Leave No Trace edict, I find it discouraging that photographers continuously glorify young burners who ignore the No Feathers rule. Yes, they’re beautiful, but they’re totally disregarding a major “Don’t” of BM. Please choose your photos more carefully to show burners who embody the spirit of no-MOOP; the lovely couple in the second-to-last photo is a great example of fashion that doesn’t trash the playa.
    -Bun E. Luv

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  • Haiku says:

    This year was my first burn, and was mind-bendingly amazing for a total introvert like me. I have built my whole life in the default world around being alone, being isolated. My time in BRC was transformative and I blossomed into openness there. However, my decompression has been just awful. I have been planted back into my old life and do not know how to keep the feeling. I’m so scared I will lose it and slink back into my quiet, lonely life here. I felt so free, so open, so loved and so whole. I don’t know how to feel that way back here! It is so frustrating, and I just feel so empty…somehow. This article gives me hope, thank you so much. I need all the help I can get at this moment. The friends I went to BRC with back in my city are also strangely distant, even though I need them so so so so much. Maybe they needed a break from being around each other constantly for 10 days but I don’t know who else to turn to. It’s so tough. I just wish I was back on the playa…..

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  • Stray Dog says:

    Like Haiku I am a tremendous introvert and my virgin year at Burning Man has changed me for the better. I have dealt with returning to the default world by becoming a Burning Man Evangelist. I tell anyone who will listen about the 10 principles (good for default world too). I tell them with enthusiasm. People who know me know I am different now. I plan to cling to radical inclusion and radical self-expression for life! I’m going to get involved in our regional to keep myself dusty!

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  • Giovanni escappa says:

    I feel like I can’t tell my friends this and that maybe they won’t understand. Because I told one friend and I felt like he was kinda laughing at me. So ill say it you guys. To whom ever this may concern. This was my third burn. On the night they burned the man I found myself standing alone without my friends who left a few minutes earlier than me for the burn. I was at the time heavily influenced by a certain hallucinogenic substance. Out of no where these group of people sitting in front of me (I was standing) said “hey! You! Yeah you! I LOVE YOU” I answered them the same back. And another beautiful lady sitting two people to my right said the same “I LOVE YOU”. I don’t know what it was at the time, maybe something in her voice maybe the sentence itself. But i could help but to burst into tears and flowing the so much powerful energy. I tried to conceal it but more and more people I noticed gave me kind of a check look in my direction. I was totally uncontrollably crying. The only thing that was passing through my mind was. “how in the world can you bring almost 70,000 people to do the same thing. For me I think that thing is to love, not litter, be happy, enforce positive energy, be beautiful, dress weird and not give a f@#+ because everyone is doing the same thing. Burning man is more than just a festival of music, art, self expression & reliance. It has become a way of life, a movement, something bigger than all of us but yet can’t exist without its participants. Anyway, the more fireworks that went off and the more cheers every time it happens sent me in to a deeper loop of not being able to hold myself in and just dropping more and more tears that my eyes started to burn. From here to there people started to scatter and had only one thing to do that I thought would help to let it out. I went up to the lady who triggers this Wow event in me, I tapped her shoulder, she turned to me and I immediately jumped to hug her like you would hug your mother after not seeing her for a few years. I couldn’t even speak for how overwhelmed I was but somehow I managed to blurt out “you have no idea what you did to me”. She said “hug me for as long as you like. Needless to say I was crying in her arms for about twenty minutes or so. And went back to my camp cooling off the whole way. I guess what I’m trying to say here is I guess the whole feeling of not experiencing the burn with my friends left me feeling unloved or not wanted, I mean standing alone, quietly. And all of a sudden 5-6 people who don’t know you scream to you that they love you having never met you kinda leaves you feeling more loved than you’ve ever felt loved in your life and you know it’s meant for real because of the whole week that you’ve gone through meeting all sorts of people and seeing so much evidence to that. You can’t help yourself but to break apart. So here I am at “home” working, seeing my friends again and thinking. I cant even begin to bring people into my world. So spilling it out here is my start. Thank for listening I hope this helps others cope with the real world like I hope it will help me. You’re welcome to contact me for any reason at all. I would love to help you like this helped me. At

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  • Giovanni escappa says:

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  • Danny says:

    My first decompression. I decided to not go back to work until next monday, just to let things merinate. Im loving that decision! Oh and I randomly gifted a homeless man a pack of smokes followed followed by a burner style hug………..bring n the good shit back wirh me.

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  • Danny says:

    My first decompression. I decided to not go back to work until next monday, just to let things merinate. Im loving that decision! Oh and I randomly gifted a homeless man a pack of smokes followed by a burner style hug this morning. He was coo his name was Danny too……….bring n the good shit back wit meh.

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  • Shaya says:

    This is an idea and a way of being that is beautifully expressed. IMHO, these are words to live by any time, not just upon re-entry to the Default World.

    I heartily agree with what MorTisha said: “as the “burner” you and the “default” you become more and more the same person, and as it becomes easier to “burn” year round in whatever way burning man speaks to you most, the easier it is to transition between worlds.” True words. My personality and the core of who I am have changed dramatically (for the better and the stronger), since I entered the Burner community and began my annual pilgrimages to the Playa.

    I also agree with Blaze’s comments about the Burn being a kind of fuel. Almost nothing restores my faith in humanity quite like the Burn–a profound spiritual sustenance. And it fuels my personal creative fire, as well as my sense of adventure–both physical and social.

    An additional suggestion I have for folks: if you have the blessed luxury of being able to take time off from work, take a few extra days off after the Burn. Instead of driving all day and all night to get home, stop along the way somewhere–a roadside pull-off, or a forest trail. Find a safe place to sleep outside under the stars. Stay there for a night or two if you can. Do *nothing* except prepare the food you need to eat. Contemplate the stars each night–the vastness of the Milky Way overhead. I have found that this truly helps me to deal with re-entry. So much so that I make it a priority as part of my Burning Man experience.

    Haiku: it will get better. :-)

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  • Timothy McTaggart says:

    Thank you for your great article. Last year was my virgin burn which was nearly mind blowing. I think I’m still trying to figure out what the heck happened. For me the three days on the road getting home wasn’t a bad transition back to the default world. That first day going back down highway 95 to Henderson was just beautiful in itself as I reveled in the glow of the whole experience and watched the colors of the sunset. That night in Henderson I was a little surprised that my accommodations rented me a room after I finally saw myself in the bathroom mirror. A for-real shower is an amazing thing.

    Giving myself some love was something I actually did on the way back. One thing this involved was getting one of these world famous green chile cheeseburgers from a popular place in San Antonio, NM. And it was good to drop in on my crazy cousin nearby on that last night of the trip.

    A year later I’m still trying to figure out what to make of the trip and what I’m going to do with my life from this point forward. I’m hanging in there well enough for now. I do some intermittent strange and wonderful things now with art and music. Case in point is knocking the dust off of my old school DJ skills. Tiesto has nothing to worry about though.

    It was quite rough when I canceled my trip to Burning Man this year due to circumstances. Actually it hit me like a ton of bricks. I did feel a lot better though once I found someone that was in need of a last minute ticket and I was able to provide him with mine.

    Even though I didn’t go this year I still had the weird dreams. This time it was about my fellow travelers attempting to get off of a muddy playa. Go figure. -Tim

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  • Sparkle says:

    Some great tips and heartfelt sharing. Thanks all. Third-time burner here and re-entry has been a little hard for me this time, mainly because a dear elderly friend who is like a mum to me has taken a sudden decline in physical and cognitive health. Had a good cry over that my first full day back, realizing I will probably be commemorating her the next time I am at the Temple. Life goes on, from dust to dust.

    In other ways re-entry has also been easier for me, in part because I currently do not have a job to go back to. Not having that hanging over my head (I dreaded it during my previous two burns) made me feel a lot lighter and more present last week. Now there’re practical tasks to attend to like cleaning my gear – two days of laundry at least – and plans to be made for the next burn (get those ideas down while they’re fresh!). I agree that sharing playa stories with anyone who will listen is helpful too. We had a family dinner tonight for our 7 yr old granddaughter’s birthday and everyone wanted to hear about my trip to the desert. I find myself talking a lot more about the ten principles these days. And when I walk my dogs now I make sure to say hi to all my neighbors and attempt to engage them in conversation. I guess I bring the spirit of BRC home in some significant way every year.

    I miss the weird dreams though :)

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  • Monkey Gurl says:

    I also resided at Camp Envy this year, although I didn’t realize that’s where I was till someone above named it. Every post and picture from this year fuels my love for playa dust and love, and I’m planning for ’14.

    My first burn I called my boss and said, I can’t come home yet, I’m completely spent. Thank God she’s an understanding person and was cool about it. I felt so empowered and filled up after emptying all my sadness in the Temple of Transition (2011) I could barely speak coherently to check in to the hotel. Fortunately, I found one of my campmate’s voices, a very feminine, flirty and soft lilting voice, and used that to upgrade my room and decompress well. The next year I spent 4 days in Lake Tahoe afterburning, and will (Hopefully) next year as well. I didn’t have weird dreams as I recall, but I did feel so out of place and strange….but I landed back in my own head eventually…boo…

    Next year is going to totally suck.


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  • Terrah says:

    sdiofnaeiofj!!! This is SO perfect! Oh my god, this has totally been me all week! I am also just coming off my fourth Burn this year, and it does seem to take longer and longer every year to adjust. My “salad-eating moment” came today as well! As I was driving home from work, I was at a red light before a freeway entrance, and the car in the lane next to me went on my green light, instead of waiting half a second for hers. We both started speeding ahead, neck and neck, and I looked over at her and gave her a gameface “It’s on!” look. She then threw her hands up in the air and let me go ahead of her. I just looked at her through my side mirror, threw my head back and laughed. I’m not sure if she was actually upset, or also enjoying our pretend road rage, but I was immensely amused by having such an encounter with a stranger.

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  • Lidia says:

    thank you so much for this tips, as I read the last bit of this article I have tears rolling down, just remembering what a beautiful experience this has been for me n many of us. This year was my first burn, and together with my friends we have now so many beautiful memories…coming back home and telling everyone what it has been like, can be difficult however I am doing my very best to explain how beautiful and magical Burning man is, and how many beautiful souls I met along the way. I feel truly blessed and I healed from all the stress and worries i had this year, not been an easy one. Loving life now, and look forward to be with you all next year. I love you all :)

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  • cyd says:

    What we are all dealing w/ is basically a case of culture shock. It’s ok, You’ll get thru it! Leaving utopia for this other “unreal” world can be kinda tough, sometimes. But then your non-burner or yet to be burners always see your eyes light up when ya talk about what a cool time you had, making them wanna check out what they missed :)

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  • Davey says:

    Thank you for this. The last paragraph brought my happy cries to my eyes. I love you too.

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  • Angel says:

    I am SO glad to read these comments I have spent this last week in a daze. This is Burn 4 for me and seems harder each year to leave. I try to tell myself I can keep the spirit alive but I come back to a place either no one knows what burning man is, or the think it is one big drug fest in the desert and “pray for my soul” Little do they know it is the first place in this life I have ever felt at home and more loved by a community for being just me then any other place.
    I spent first three nights waking up hating my “playa colored walls” in the AM because every time I woke up I thought I was on the playa only to realize I was alone in my room :( :( :( I would not open the door of my little “dust bunny” camper and see smile after smile and good morning and hello neighbors. I would not see a community opening arms to welcome you in to “have a seat and stay awhile” instead I see a bunch of people rushing place to place and no one wanting to even pass you a smile. I will keep on smiling and wear more clothing out here but try to welcome this world into mine as I dream of returning home while SLOWLY cleaning the playa dust off everything for even the smile takes me home!!!! But the neighbors want my camper out of the driveway :(

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  • Marc Aubin says:

    Thank you for this comforting advise.
    This was my first burn and I ache for my next, though I feel as though I will be carrying my experience into my default word.
    I am a Technical Theater teacher at a private school in Manhattan. I look forward to seeing my students on Monday. They wished me a ‘Happy Burn’ as school let out last June.
    I feel as though my teaching method has been turned on it’s head.
    I saw that when you take $ and ‘NO’ out of the equation, everything is possible.
    The art, expression, humanity, compassion, love… I was folded into, opened me.
    I cried so much…and they were tears of joy!
    I was feeling so bitter towards humanity and the way we are hurting each other and our world, but now I have a stronger sense of self and hope.
    I was embraced by 68,000 people.
    It was shown to me that despite the daily onslaught of the public media…there is still love and art and heart and humanity in our world…
    …a world that I’m again, happy to be a part of.

    Thank you Hannah!!!!


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  • MK says:

    I’m feeling a lot of general depression, but it’s not as easy as “Oh, Default World sucks and I miss the playa,” because it kind of started on the playa. I had an amazing, electrifying time in 2012 and could not wait to go back, but then this year just found myself being grumpy and bored (bored? At Burning Man? That’s insane!). I tried a bunch of different things to get more connected but it never really succeeded. Just felt like soooo much work and soooo little return (yeah, dancing people, fire, whatevs. Hugs are nice I guess.) I had delicious spiritual experiences at the temple in 2012 but this year all I felt was extreme sadness and then nothingness, pointlessness. I hope this feeling passes soon.

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  • ymb says:

    MK, sorry to hear you had a less-than-expected year out there. my 2012 burn was like that, for no particular reason, leaving me feeling like 2013 might be my last year (if it indeed proved to be part of a slow decline). however, it was by far the best in 4, giving me the realization that like the rest of life, there are ebbs and flows, and one of the things that makes the annual pilgrimage so worth it is the way it, and oneself in it, differs from year to year. be easy on yourself, and on BRC — both are complex and evolving organisms that come with highs and lows. hope you find some peace and lightness with time.

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  • Simone says:

    Thank you for your words. Your tips are wonderful and healing, and I see by the comments that I’m not alone in my depression, my feeling of ‘unreality’ in the default world, and my yearning for the simple joys of the playa. Haiku, you expressed it so beautifully: “I felt so free, so open, so loved and so whole.” My trip to Black Rock City for my virgin burn was complicated by a relatively last minute change in my relationship with my lover/traveling companion; this would be my ‘farewell tour,” it seemed. I arrived on playa emotionally and spiritually empty, but determined to open myself up to experience all the love and wonder and magic that is Burning Man. I was not disappointed, and everything–from the hugs I received, the people I met, the solemnity of the temple, the vista of the sunrise viewed through the heart of Truth and Beauty, the overwhelming love, the dust, the music, the goosebumps on my skin as I stood before BELIEVE–nurtured me in a way that is impossible to explain. I treasured every moment with my lover, I relished the intense heat on my face as the Man burned, and tears ran down my face as the Temple burned and my memorial words and photos flew up as cinders into Heaven. As I integrate myself back into this world, I am comforted by my plans for my return to the playa in 2014. Love to you all.


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  • D says:

    Glad I found this and am not the only one going through it. I’ve woken up twice to my dark room thinking and feeling like I was some how transported back to camp. The first time it scared the hell out of me. Is this happening to anyone else?

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  • Huggy Bear says:

    This my third year was as phenomenal as it was unique and difficult, and the return was perhaps more challenging than ever because I feel more at home on the Playa each year. For the first time ever I went solo, after giving three car-poolers a ride in. It was always strange to go back to my solo tent every night, but I became even faster (and deeper) friends with mates from three surrounding camps with each passing day. My unique bike with super-tall poles and colored orbs helped bring smiles from people that I met throughout the day, and I made a few visits to my lo lovely daughter and her camp mates nearby (and we even gave a workshop together). I met people that made an incredible impression on me, so much so that I thought about them constantly in my first week back.

    I just can’t describe the aching depth of my current longing for the dusty strange world in which everything but conformity, inhibition or harm is embraced. I left my burn counting the days until I return, when my previous years’ camp mates and I will return to the world where conformity abates.

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  • Naked Gourmet/ Goddess Haven says:

    This year I went alone to the playa, Yet I never felt alone.
    Every rest stop I meet burners heading home.
    With big ass smiles upon the faces of all.
    One woman ask me what camp I am with?
    My reply was Goddess Haven ( one man with a dream of sharing & helping those in need.) Once on the playa I built my camp. A carport Shelter, A kitchen with 5 stoves &
    a shower with two shower stations. I then went around to those in tents,
    Telling them about my community camp.
    It was welcome with respect & kindness from all.
    I forgot to buy some beer. Which I said to one camper turning around to see the flag on my mailbox up looking in it to see two pale ale beers. Boy that felt good I never did find out who was putting them in my mailbox Just an act of love back from the playa!!!
    Heading out made me cry with tears of joy seeing & feeling the joy of the playa made me feel loved!!!! On the way home to WA I stopped at a few rest stops was planning on camping in Oregon Seeing homeless people looking for food & cash to live on.
    The heart of the playa made me unpack my truck to get to the food & water I had.
    Giving them respect gifts of crystals, water & some food made me feel really good.
    They gave me thanks & hugs. I felt goose bumps as tears of joy ran down my face.
    Being recharge from the playa I am ready to face the world off the playa!
    Please share the love we all built on the playa.
    To the DPW, Rangers & all those to make this old man feel loved THANK YOU! NG

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  • Naked Gourmet/ Goddess Haven says:

    PS this was my 9th year on the playa hoping to make it back for my 10th burn
    With pride I say I am a Burner on & off the playa.
    Been away for two years the joy of returning was so good for my heart
    I am going to reach out this year to connect with other burners
    in my state seeing what joy we can share with the world off the playa.
    Together we can change a lot in this world off the playa.

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  • Jon Lance says:

    I’m not sure if this will work or not, but I feel I don’t need to settle back into the real world. Everywhere I go, I talk to everyone, BM has taught me how to be more social and friendly. It’s kinda sad though when I don’t get hugs. I talk to people I wouldn’t otherwise consider, mostly store clerks, but I had a nice conversation with an art consultant the other day and some random lady on a train who wants to be a burner someday. I now see the world differently and I think I can bring Burningman with me to share with everyone

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  • Fairy says:

    7. Find a job you dirty hippie

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  • Peter Madden says:

    The thing that worked best for me was to be social with other Burners in my community back at home. For me, it made the transition almost effortless.

    When you leave the playa you are leaving an extremely inhospitible environment that is hot, dusty, loud, sleepless, chaotic and completely devoid of water and supplies. We return to our lives with considerably more comforts and conveniences where your surroundings become must more hospitible.

    I realized that it wasnt the playa that I missed. It was the people…

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  • Schtev says:

    Its my third burn, and it hit me hard this year. Like the other introverts, I reveled in the sense of community and freedom of expression. Now I’m sad and don’t know what to do about my life.

    I forced myself to go to a house party, knowing ahead of time they were going to ask cliche questions. I also ordered myself a fire staff, as I have made it a mission to become a fire spinner in time for the next Burn. I think a body flow art like that could be good for me spiritually.

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  • Rob in Santa Rosa says:

    This was my 7th Burn and reentry was by far the hardest ever. It is just this morning that my head is sadly back to default. It only took three road rage incidents yesterday with obnoxious drivers to bring me back to here. Sad. To me it seems the sweeter the Burn, the more difficult the reentry. I believe that Burning Man exists to show humanity that there is a better way to live, regardless of how hostile the environment is. As the event grows, more seeds of change will be sown. This is a very good thing.


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  • Sunshine says:

    Fourth burn completed and re-entry was tough but I was lucky enough to spend my first night home with three burners partying it up as I had the day off. I have been exhaling, crying, feeling and just trying to be patient with how long decompression takes. It will be all good in a few weeks. It’s my birthday month and that always helps. Burning Man is my annual birthday gift whenever possible. : )

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  • Lana says:

    I love you I feel all of you , Burn was EPIC! best time! see u all next year! stay inspired and happy!

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  • Sun Ray says:

    It’s like a terrible break up with the one you loved the most. Met so many wonderful people that just disappeared like BRC. I did smile when i saw Huggy Bear Post. I wear your necklace everyday as a reminder of my time at the Burn. Thank you for the article. Thank you all for an amazing first burn.

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  • Kimberly says:

    I experienced my first Burn this year, and coming back to default felt pretty strange, yet there is this great feeling of liberation from the construct of the default world. I only had one day of rest before heading back to classes and the first few days of having to pay attention to lecture and interact was a little disorienting. For those of you who’ve had strange dreams after returning, I’m right there with you! I haven’t yet shared with family (my close sister) about decompression or the dreams, in fact, I did not do so because I felt a bit embarrassed at how I was feeling since I initially raved about how fun, and interesting the Playa is. It’s been about a week and I’m also back to work with a goal in mind to not allow the stress that work and/or school can produce to bring down the joy in my heart I’ve felt since coming back. Decompression is a very real thing. It’s a mixture of awkwardness, some sadness, disorientation, even anger, but also you carry a changed heart and mind back to the default world.

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  • Jhinelle says:

    This was my first burn, and wow…just WOW. Coming back was so strange, reintegrating into the default world was a challenge! First day back, I was alone in my house, and cried off and on (more on than off) all day long. I wasn’t sad at all, I was happy! I was changed. Then I started looking at some information on spirituality (I had a moment at the Temple that maybe, just maybe, I am a spiritual being) and found some information on spiritual awakening. That’s what was happening! Thank you Burning Man, I will see you next year <3

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  • ChrissyP says:

    my re-entry to mundane life has been much more about physical challenges than emotional and spiritual…. last year, I had planned surgery 15 hours after pulling into our driveway post-playa… I build a large camp……. my dusty stuff took too long to clean….. this year, I was back at my desk 15 hours post-playa…… with all that gear to clean, and a new house to prep for moving into, and I always have annual reports due on 9/15.

    I ran a fever off and on all week last, but had no chance to stop and rest, so I just sniveled and cried all week…….. The crying was good.

    The sniveling ended up being good too……. I am part of a large burner community, and when I posted on FB my big snivel, this burner community sprang up and smothered me with such love…… that was two days ago. I was better yesterday, today, I am happy dancing…. I have cleaned 13 of the 23 beautiful area rugs that I brought this year, and about half of my tarps, awnings, and structures are clean and packed away…..

    I am a grateful girl again today. I love what was said above about when your burner life and default life become more and more the same…… it’s so true. I opened myself to community years ago, and was almost sad when my split personalities formed up to just be all me……… my loving partner says it’s ok though because life with is never boring……however, my music, yoga, dance, and burner communities have collided, and I am me always now, playa or default.

    Tired, tore-up, bruised, dislocated knuckle…. whatever…. it is and will be. I am happy.


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  • Peter Vollan says:

    The first comment is right on the money for me… I wake up in some sort of sleepwalking panic, thinking that I am still on the playa, looking out the window and thinking that I am looking at some sort of theme camp and there is a coat of playa dust on everything

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  • jim deitchler (Skippy) says:

    I am so thankful I found this article. This was my first Burn and I was impacted by the experience in a big way. I had Playa dreams for a week straight. I felt alone, changed and not wanting to re-integrate into the world I knew before attending Burning Man. Fortunately, I was part of a great theme camp, Sharky’s Bar, and had the opportunity to visit the camp Facebook page, which was a life-line to the Playa World I so longed to return to.
    It is comforting to know that Playa dreams and a sort of dis-orientation is a reaction that many who have posted here experienced. I have a renewed confidence in my own self-expression now and an urge to be friendlier to all those I encounter in daily living. We are all lucky that Burning Man is not a one time event. I look forward to returning to our new “home” next year. Thanks to everyone who shared their experience here. Thanks to everyone for being a part of 2013. Accentuate the Positive!

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  • Todd says:

    any major gathering is like this. you spend the year looking forward to an event that is a key part of your identity, and works like a massive family reunion (even with folks you just met). You drop into the flow, and the energy streams and eddies around and thru you for several days, and you feel alive and at home. Then, it ends, and it’s like the circus packs up to hit the road, or as I call it, “last kid in the dorm at christmas break” feeling. and the rush does take awhile to wear off. Just have to grind it out, and keep your eyes open to potential for fun, rather than just closing yourself off in a cocoon until the next time you see the flyers for the circus coming back

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  • James says:

    I read the story and it was really pleasant , although i felt like their missing some things ;) good writing

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  • Peter says:

    Come on people, it was a long crazy wonderful exhausting drug and alcohol fueled week in the desert and you are going to pay a price. What’s the surprise.

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  • Ricford says:

    Burner since ’99. Each year the numbers increase. More to see but something is gone. But I come back each year. I’ve only made the trip with another person once so I’m always alone and for the most part, experience the burn quite alone. I’ll come back until I can’t. In 2012 I didn’t win the lottery. I’m a ‘grown man’ but I cried like a little girl who just lost her Mother. It was that intense. Most everybody’s nice and friendly but if you’re not ‘one of them’, you’re still an outsider. But it’s OK. I am alone in the world and depend entirely on myself year ’round so why do I need someone for that week. If I didn’t feel something intense, why would I ever come back. Over and over. I am a Burner Voyeur. But even then I’m part of something that is absolutely and completely inexplicable to the unwashed. When I come home, that week is one of strong emotions of utter loneliness. But then I say, “Next Year, Burning Man” And I’m good.

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  • Eddie says:

    September is almost gone and i’m still decompressing! It was my first burn and now i really don’t know how to go back to the everyday regular. i try to explain to people what is it and they don’t get it! this upsets me! i try to hug and gift and kinda like carry on some of playa life but its not well received so i bottle it up for next year. But i am so grateful for the mind opening it has definitely changed my life and now i know why they say welcome home! because that is now my true home! Burner for life! all the way from the Bahamas!

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  • Ammie says:

    This is another fantastic article that really helped me last year with my first year burn withdrawals :-) I have found that one of the best ways to assuage the overwhelming emotions that can be associated with coming back into the day-to-day life,(as some others have suggested) is to actively try to make every day life more and more like the life we experience together at Black rock city. Hope you enjoy! )'(

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  • kim livingood says:

    This sounds AMAZING. However, I am getting sober. Is this something I could do and still attend?

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  • Wild Cub says:

    Thanks for the post! I definitely tried these suggestions and it helped. Literally, it took 3 months to sink back into reality again after coming back from the Playa. It’s now 6 months after BM 13′ and I still feel like I’m dreaming. Sometimes, out of randomness I get a rush of “missing the playa”. I can’t wait to roll into the playa dust again and love everyone and everything around me.

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