We’ve fallen behind because Burning Man has fallen on our heads, and we can’t get up.
Argus said tonight that he thought he’d been at Burning Man for a week already, “and it doesn’t even start for four more hours.” That’s true, technically: The gates don’t officially open to the city until midnight Saturday night, but there are already many many people here. And if you’ve been here since there were only 25 people staying on the playa at night, well, it feels crowded. Real crowded.
Cobra Commander held his last DPW morning meeting on Saturday, and he used the occasion to articulate a lot of the things that a lot of us were feeling. He talked about falling asleep early the night before out of sheer exhaustion, then waking up at 1:30 in the morning, remembering that there was a party that he just HAD to go to, “so I staggered out with a cocktail in my hand … and everything is happening! And people are lit up, and there are people from Burning Man headquarters who don’t have to be at a 7:30 meeting and they’re running around … and I thought, oh! Burning Man!”
The crowd was laughing, and listening intently: “You may be a little crispy right now, and you may be really attached to your DPW (work) … but I encourage each and every one of you to do two things: One is to look around you and look at this team we have. … It’s amazing that we can come here and pull this thing off. … And the second thing I encourage you to do is to get out there and see Burning Man; take a moment to surrender your identity, take a moment to let that thing become a part of your life in the deepest way you can. What we do out here is provide a unique experience that is incredible, and you need to take a moment to engage with it. Let it do its thing. You’ll probably find it very valuable for your life.”
Now you have to understand, these words were spoken to a very rough, very dusty, very tired, very edge group of maybe 200 people, people who drag their sorry asses to the Depot every damn morning of the build season, no matter how hard they’ve worked the day before, no matter how hard they’ve partied the night before, and yes, Burning Man hasn’t even started yet. The thing that unites this group, motivates them, gets those same sorry asses back to the desert every year, or draws them to the desert for the very first time, hasn’t even started yet.
But now it is upon us.
The gates will open tonight, and thousands and thousands of people will come roaring through, and they’ll be bright and shiny and excited and happy, finally able to release the force that’s been building inside them for months and weeks and days and hours, finally able to get out of the damn car or truck and look at the sky and hear the music and … yes, feel the Burn. Feel the real Burn.
It is upon us.
Friday night around the city felt a lot like it did ten years ago on a Monday or maybe even a Tuesday of the event week. Stuff wasn’t finished. Camps were being set up. There were bikes on the playa, lit up by blinkies and glowies, but not the full-on orgasmic light show that we will see later in the week. There were art cars prowling around, too, but not very many of them, and none of the gigantic sound cars, pumping out their electro thumping madness. Later in the week it’ll sound like you’re sitting in your driveway with the radio blasting and the windows rolled up, but tonight … just bits and pieces here and there.
But it’s here. It is upon us.
And this is when we loosen our grip, give up the pretense of trying to stay on top of this thing, because there is no way any one person can do that. You can touch the elephant here and there (and by touch the elephant we do not mean anything racy, but that other touching will happen too, and lots of it. If you’re lucky.).
But we’ll go with the flow and go our own way and meet with our friends and have the unexpected conversations and the too-late nights and the craziness will settle down upon us and we’ll be bent and cracked and the light will get in where the cracks appear. Because that’s what we’ve come here for. We don’t come here to watch, or spectate, or speculate, or simply take pictures, or try to make sense of it all. That can’t happen now. That can come later.
For now it’s time to discover again what kind of person you are, and what kind of person you aren’t. It’s time to hear the things you need to hear, do the things you need to do, dance to the beat you need to dance to, stumble across that thing or person you need to stumble across.
It’s all crazy and cheesy and easy to make fun of, and easy to dismiss. Especially if you’re not here. Especially if you haven’t made the sacrifices you need to make to get here, given up the comforts and routines you’re used to, let yourself be tossed by waves you didn’t even know were forming, and now they will come crashing down upon you.
They’re about to hit the shore, and you are standing there waiting.
It is upon us.