The sun seemed to be sinking faster than usual, and the sky was transitioning from blue to gray, with streaks of sunset orange. We knew it would get dark soon, and even though we were in a hurry to get where we were going, we couldn’t help but stop, get out of the truck to take in the views and the stillness and the quiet.
This won’t seem like a big deal to all you off-road desert explorers, but we got out of our comfort zone last night and went to visit Will and Crimson at their Meteor Camp, deeper and further into the Black Rock Desert than we’d been before.
We told the nice Gate folks manning Point 1 that we were heading out. We had extra clothing, water, goggles, lights and a radio, but if we went missing, at least someone would know where we had been headed. (We also had booze, because hey, radical self reliance.) We weren’t really going that far, five miles out and three miles in, but when you haven’t ventured far outside the event site before, your mind is filled with images of squawking ravens feasting on a desiccated corpse.
We needn’t have worried. We came upon the desert markers (the first was a double set of poles with tires on them, then a single pole with another tire) and made the appropriate turns. We could see a small group of trailers and campers in the distance, and there were tire tracks to follow. When we arrived, a lot of people were laughing, and the smell of barbecue was thick in the air. There was also a giant cooler of what turned out to be lethally strong margaritas.
Will and Crimson, two of Burning Man’s founders, have been heading out to the open desert before the event for more than a decade. It used to be just them and the night and the stars. “We just wanted to get some quiet time beforehand,” Will was saying as he reclined on a camp chair, gazing skyward, watching for shooting stars at the tail end of the annual Perseid meteor shower. There were little dots of light on the ground — a far-off gold mine, a camper or two – and thousands and thousands of shining stars in the sky.
But Meteor Camp has grown from just two people to about 100. Everyone seems to know each other, and as you made your way around there were offers of more drinks and food. At one point, the president of the Friends of Black Rock High Rock took a megaphone and welcomed the new arrivals. He encouraged everyone to have fun and join the group.
Will was saying that there are four star-gazing outings a year now, in addition to the other educational and explorer programs under the Friend’s auspices. And you can go to them; Sign up at their website, maybe make a donation to help people learn about the desert and help preserve it. And when you roll through town, you might want to visit their visitor center in the middle of Gerlach.
A brief note about meetings. All of you who work for other people no doubt have gone to your share of office meetings, so you know how stultifying and pointless so many of them can be.
We’re here to tell you of a better way, of the best daily meeting we’ve had the privilege of attending.
We know from meetings. In our corporate life, it was not unusual to have six, seven, eight meetings a day, from early in the morning to end of the day, with about half an hour squeezed in for actual work. One of our colleagues was fond of saying, “There are two kinds of people – people who meet, and people who work.” Many days we were a part of the former group.
But Logan’s morning meeting is how all meetings should be done.
It is predictable, happening at 7:30 every morning. It brings everyone together to jump start the day. Necessary information is conveyed: who’s arriving on the playa, the new speed limit for Black Rock City, fuel and shower hours. Maybe there’s a weather report if it’s pertinent. Occasionally there are social notes — who’s having a gathering that night, and thanks to the person who had one the night before.
And that’s pretty much blessedly it. If someone talks too long, Logan or the crowd will yank them. There’s work to be done. If the meeting lasts more than seven minutes or so, everyone starts getting antsy to wrap it up. There’s no pompous bloviating. You meet, you hear stuff, you are done. You are not told things you already know, and you are not told things you have no interest or need to hear.
Tell your bosses to do it like this. Take back your life.
More pictures of people and things: