What Are Your Intentions for the Burn This Year? We Asked, You Told Us

While some people hit the playa dancing and go with the flow from there, others take a more intentional approach to their time at Burning Man, carefully thinking about what they’d like to get out of the experience and manifesting from there.

I personally start each Burn with grandiose ambitions about doing yoga, taking classes, reading books, seeing all the art, catching all my favorite DJs, waking up at dawn, getting fit, eating healthy…and on and on. But in the swirl of playa time and my own bloated intentions, they never happen. So I wondered: “What are others’ intentions and how do they achieve them?”

So, not to make your Burn all, like, high-achieving or something, we sought stories about goal setting on the playa this year, and present 10 here that touch on relatable themes like self-discovery, life transitions, healing, relationships, and more.

Maybe some of these mini-outlines will inspire you to think differently about your Burn in 2016 — or not! Blowing these off and hopping on the nearest dragon is a perfectly fine goal, too.

The beauty of this is that it’s up to you. All of it.

To rediscover who I am inside

Laura Kimpton's "Who Gave Birth" Photo by Tony Edwards
Laura Kimpton’s “Who Gave Birth” (Photo by Tony Edwards)

My youngest just turned 18 and my identity as “mom” is being redefined. While at the Burn I will free myself from convention, from worrying what others will think, and let myself be who I truly am inside.

  • I will meet different people, make new friends, and dance until dawn.
  • I will be with art on a personal and meaningful level without velvet ropes.
  • I will wear what I want; eat and sleep when I want.
  • I will use my driving time of 4-6 weeks to sing loudly, visit places I have never seen, and practice yoga at interstate rest stops all while contemplating my path for the next phase of my life.

— Karen. Middle of Nowhere, VA

To shake up how I burn 

My number nine Burn needs to have radical newness, and that’s up to me to make it happen. I think breaking my “routine” will open me up to new things, and hence open me up to whatever the playa has to teach me this year.

I think sticking to participating in familiar ways limits my experience. I want to re-submit to the desert, and the process, and see where it takes me. It’s not something I do well, in general, trying the new and unfamiliar. So consciously choosing to try the unfamiliar is a stretch, but good practice.

  • I’ve planned to participate in some new things (Ali Baba’s Slave auction, among others), which takes planning pre-playa (I think I have a killer auction “item”).
  • I’m shaking up *how* I do my gifting (I bring 20 gallons of award-winning, chilled on-demand home-made beer on draft).  Usually, I dispense from the back of my bike trailer as I move through BRC, with small scale interaction. I’m going to try to show up in communities I want to know better and see if my gift can be a spontaneous enhancement to something that’s already awesome.

— Ken Doll, San Rafael, CA

To take steps for my future, exit out of my current industry

Photo by John David Tupper
TEDx talks at Black Rock City (Photo by John David Tupper)

Everyone tells me I need to write a book about my life based on my effed-up experiences.

I plan to explore my story at BM and how I can bring it back to the default world and make it my career over the next 10 years. How?

  • Take baby steps
  • Start to think out and thru my vision
  • Make connections
  • Listen to the various talks and speakers at BM
  • See what the universe brings me
  • Take time to reflect and start writing
  • Maybe even start with an “elevator speech” and see individual’s or group’s reactions

— Jaymi Fallon, Agoura Hills, CA

To be naked more often

As a survivor of sexual assault, I have had a long journey back to feeling that my body belongs to me. Last year at Burning Man, I tip-toed into the experience of nakedness, which gave me a jumpstart to confront and process this part of my life at the Temple. I hope to embrace these feelings of vulnerability and self-acceptance again (and for the weather to be a little warmer) with some naked bike-rides!

  • A few times a day, I’ll check in with myself and ask “how would it feel to be in this situation with no clothes on?”
  • Lots of sunscreen!

— Oakland, CA

To share my life quote and help at least one person discover their life quote 

This quote by Lawrence of Arabia was prominently displayed throughout the 1991 event.
A quote from Lawrence of Arabia at Burning Man 1991 (Photo by George Post)

My life quote has helped me on my journey through life and has been a vital part of me becoming a Burner. A life quote, by my definition, is one that is original to you and not a quote of others that you favor. It is composed of words that have meaning to you. Once you have this life quote, you know it is right and yours when you feel it is truly how you have lived and are living your life.

  • I wish to help individuals start their journey to find their life quote by speaking to and personally connecting with people through sharing my life quote and how having one has helped me.
  • Through talking about their life, the choices faced, decisions made and experiences realized, they can discover why they are connected to and favor certain words. These words can compose their life quote.

— Rod, Omaha, NB

To have a Burn that is focused on my internal journey and experience, rather than attempting to make sure everyone else has the Burn that they want (playa mom-ing)

Last year was very hard, and I came back to the default world drained and resentful. I did not balance my experience and focused solely on those around me, with no thought for how *I* felt, and what *I* was experiencing. Even though this may sound selfish, I think it is integrally important to care for one’s self. You cannot truly give to others if you are personally in need.

  • I have set boundaries with my campmates and my friends, and I have thought long and hard about how I will approach my trip to the playa.
  • Though I have been extremely active in camp planning and preparation, and plan to participate fully with my camp and with Black Rock City, I am also giving myself permission to be “selfish” and explore my needs and wants more than I have in the past.

— Chairman Meow, Boston, MA

To THRIVE in a week of strange crowds, camping in a harsh desert wilderness environment for the very first time at age 61

Brides on the Playa, Sara & Joy with Friends
The joy of friends (Photo by Juan Carlos Pometta Betancourt)

I was morbidly obese and sick with Lyme disease most of my adult life. I began to recover finally after 10 years of treatment almost five years ago now. I have lost 110 lbs. I now walk over five miles a day and hike up to 15 miles if the elevation is not too steep.

I have never camped in the desert. I have never done ANY wilderness camping. And I’m a bit of an introvert, who only knows one other person attending Burning Man this year. When I was a young person, I was very adventuresome. I feel young, happy and free again now, so I want to be that adventuresome old lady that I was meant to be! I can do this!

  • I am volunteering with the Greeters, and camping with them, so I will have a family with knowledge, experience and advice, as well as a support system.
  • I am coming as an “early arrival” to help them, so that I can avoid the initial egress difficulties, and have time to set up my camp carefully.
  • I am reading EVERYTHING I can about survival at Burning Man, clothing, food, waste, equipment, and camp set-up.
  • I am sure that I will be over-prepared, since I cannot imagine what to actually expect!

— Beverly Drottar MD, Beaverton, OR

To recharge my spirit, deepen friendship and connect with kindred souls

My default world demands put a strain on my emotional energy. As a social worker, I expend enormous amounts of energy creating harmony and finding solutions to society’s problems.

Burning Man provides respite and affords me an outlet to get my freak on and express my wild side while sharing intimacy with like-minded people. I can step out of conventional society with conventional approaches and experience alternatives that provide a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of what society can evolve into.

  • First and foremost, I try to leave expectations at the office and I open my heart and mind for the unexpected as soon as I set foot on the playa.
  • I invite conversation with strangers, attend workshops, lend a hand, observe with a veil of fantastic overdress, ride in an art car and insist on turning down streets I have never before taken in a direct attempt to expand my perception of reality.

— Gail, Cedar Flat

To transition my relationship between myself and my son, as he approaches his 14th year

Participant wearing a bird costume with a child
Momma bird with her bub (Photo by Rick Egan)

My son and I have always been close, and have been to Burning Man together three times before. (Well, four times if you count the year I was 8 months pregnant with him — and he does!) In previous years, I felt it was my imperative to protect him at the event and shield him from any harm. This year, that relationship is shifting more toward an experience of the event on an equal level, as kindred souls.

  • I still plan to keep him safe from harm, but now I feel I can share the event at a more mature, thoughtful level.
  • My plan is to keep him with me and keep communication lines open, while allowing him to have his own experience of the event.

— Jennifer Wilde, Oakland, CA

To shift the Earth into the next vibrational dimension

I’m sick and tired of this dimension. Also, to bring about the new Earth of sacred beauty and harmony for us all to live in.

  • We’re building the 1:44 Alcyone Portal, the 13th year of bringing Portals to the Playa since the 11:11 Diamond Portal in 2004.. This year is a collaboration with a group of other artists to synergistically combine their talents and offerings to facilitate this.
  • The Portals align participants multidimensional vibrational energy bodies to the evolution of the Earth’s energy body through the use of color, sacred geometry and the sound vibrations of the Quasar Wave Transducer that is inside of all of them. (See transportals.org.)

—Harlan Emil Gruber, Taos, New Mexico

Top photo by Mario Covic

About the author: Mia Quagliarello

Mia Quagliarello

Mia Quagliarello is Burning Man Project's Digital Community Manager. She went to Burning Man for the first time in 2006 (seven months pregnant, no less) and immediately wanted to leave. (She didn't know dust storms were a thing.) But 24 hours after that initial shock, she fell in love with it, and it's been a part of her life in big and small ways ever since. On playa, you'll usually find her camping in Kidsville, riding Bahamut the dragon, or hugging a speaker because she loves music so much.

9 Comments on “What Are Your Intentions for the Burn This Year? We Asked, You Told Us

  • Margaret says:

    Mia!! See you there! Marg

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  • Sarah says:

    Mia!!! You’re so rad! Thanks, as always, for your writing and your badass presence!

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  • john curley says:

    I always read the book and circle the things, and then I don’t do any of it. But at least I made a list!

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  • annette carrington says:

    My son introduced me to this. He went last year and is going again. Sadly his sister defined the event as a drug based function. I am not getting that. Bucket list…I want to go..at age 71!!!

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    • Machine says:

      You really should! And once you’ve experienced it yourself you may be able to change your daughter’s mind more easily than your son could :).

      Here’s a short documentary of an 81 year old man who goes to Burning Man for the first time! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ho9umwLzyJA

      It’s called “Charlie Goes to Burning Man”, in case the link gets censored.

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  • rabbit says:

    Great article, and thought provoking! I resonated with the themes of finding oneself in a rut at the burn (this will be my 12th) and so I”m inspired to shake my burn up a bit, let more and different in. I”m 61, and I’m also interested in finding a rhythm between having my heart and mind wide open, and the other more prosaic times of camp and friends and “it doesn’t always have to be epiphany time” practices. Thanks!

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  • Boom Boom says:

    I went to my first burn in 2010, a year after my partner of 32 years died. I was 65. I had two very specific questions in mind as I approached the burn: 1) Who was I as a single man in the 21st Century and 2) Is it too late for me. I got resounding answers that year, made friends that have lasted and got hooked on this radical ride.

    The last couple of years have been more aimless, less intentional. This year I am asking questions of the burn again. I know I’ll come out on Labor Day with my answers. I hope we all will.

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  • Damion says:

    it’s been nine years since I was at Burning Man.
    My intentions this year? Break the unfair preconceptions I’ve since built about the place (namely that it’s now a playground for the P.Y.T Rich crowd – I know this isn’t true, but the stories have gotten to me…), break my habit of not interacting with other people, and finally, break my self-image of being ugly, unwanted, and outcast.
    How will I do this?
    I have no idea.

    here goes.

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