I was wondering what I should write about next.
I had set the task of writing 7 entries about my experience at Burning Man. One night around 4 a.m., which I guess makes it early morning as late night, regardless, I had biked deep onto the Playa along the perimeter fence and the moon was huge and brilliant, and I started to try to piece together my first few days.
I would continue to jot down notes and ideas in my little notepad.
But it has been the new Facebook friends and their posts and their pictures and tags of me in pictures and all of the "virtual decompressing" that I have been part of so many miles away that determined the topic of this next post.
Connections and Community
Disconnecting to Connect
When I first decided to go to Burning Man, I was going to go very minimal, very small footprint.
I wasn't going to tag-along with a camp or be the third wheel with friends who already had done the work.
I was going to be "radically self-reliant"
I was going hard-core and I would camp out in the Walk-in Camping Zone and when I wanted peace and quiet and solitude, it would be mine.
And then I started thinking about why I was going out to Burning Man.
And it wasn't to "survive the elements". If I wanted to that, I could find much cheaper and challenging environs and/or situations.
Finding and making community among 50,000 strangers, connecting, that was why I was out there. And so I changed my trajectory
After deciding to not go at it alone, I started checking out some of the various internet groups that were posting and conversing about Burning Man.
And then it dawned on me that at the very least I could volunteer to help out on the 24/7 Time Star.
I had seen Charlie's work before and had met him a couple of times briefly. He welcomed my help and then it worked out that I would actually be able to camp at Art of Such and Such, aka ASS Camp.
It was a pretty intimidating experience for me. Many of the campers had known each other for years upon years. I didn't know anyone.
They were incredibly receptive and open and took me in, but still I felt like an outsider. And for the first few days I ventured away from camp many more hours than I was at camp, which I think was a good thing in the end.
Because the camp itself was awesome. I could have easily parked myself there and missed out on a lot of the wonderful experiences I had away and on my own.
I was incredibly fortunate to have the best of both worlds.
Friends Old & New, Named and Nameless
This half sunk ship would become a home away from home for me. I would watch three sunrises from its bow, I would watch a wedding there one morning and celebrate and toast with another pair of newlyweds on another morn.
I would meet a couple who I spent the better half of the morning with, biking over to the farmers market and sharing beignets with at the French Quarter and then would follow along as they put me through one of the most intense yoga sessions I have ever done.
And every morning I was there, this wonderful gentleman was there as well. At first he would nod to me, or we would share a few words on how beautiful the desert was or the sunrise. By the third day, he gave me a big hug,
The morning I was with the Time Star crew to awaken the dawn with a rollicking fire, I darted off and ran up the ship's deck to bid my friend good morning, but on that day he wasn't there.
I watched the sunrise and missed my friend whose name I never got and I shared few words with but 3 beautiful and unforgettable sunrises with.
There were several people I knew who were going to be at Burning Man and I knew that the likelihood of finding them was slim, but that wouldn't keep me from trying.
But several times I would find them when I wasn't looking, or they would find me.
I had biked to the perimeter and was on my way back.
I had my Foreign Legion style cap on, with goggles and a dust mask, when a voice called out my name.
I turned around and it was a girl I had met and talked to at the Decompression in Atlanta. We had become Facebook friends and knew we would both be out, but that was about it. How she recognized me was, well I do have a rather prominent nose, and it was the only thing not covered.
She invited me to a seminar she was going to that night. So I went, as tired as I was. It was by the artists, Alex and Allyson Grey, Cosmic Creativity, which was very much about, among other things, connectivity. It was the only seminar or workshop I attended.
I will attend more in the future.
And then there were a couple of times when people were where they "should" be and I found them. And that was wonderful as well.
The Frolic Room,
and Some Dust Thrown in for Good Measure
The bar in ASS camp is where I spent many hours.
Again I am glad I started out slowly, because I could easily have stayed there even more than I did. The bartenders were the best ever. The perfect degree of familiarity and yet maintaining an order that doesn't blur the line of host and guest, except when it does.
One of the only things on my "must see" list was an absinthe bar, that is until it turned out that a woman who repped Pernod was camping at Art of Such and Such. I brought out my bottles and spoons and we talked shop. And suddenly the need to go to the absinthe bar was no longer.
I met so many wonderful people and had great conversations, some just witty banter and some soulful and deep.
Lots of good craic as the Irish might say.
I am just beginning to scratch the surface, but to say the least Burning Man connects.