Burning Man Destroyed My Life

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Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby Drawingablank » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:08 am

From the moment I heard about Burning Man, I knew I had to go. I no longer remember where I first heard about it as it was over a decade ago. But kids, business, scouting, little league, mortgages, empire building, and the general demands of the rat race seemed to prevent it and over the years the desire go slowly faded away until I had completely forgotten about it.

Then, during the 2010 burn - something magical happened. I was tuning through the TV channels and came across Burncast TV on Current. It was a jolt - like getting hit by a lightning bolt! The kids are now grown, the empire has crumbled along with the economy, and along came faster rats so I was no longer a contender in the rat race. I decided on the spot that 2011 would finally be my year. When I told my family, my wife and son decided to go as well.

As we started to prepare, the task seemed daunting and I knew this was going to be the longest 12 months ever. I spent hundreds of hours reading everything on the Burning Man web site and nearly every post on Eplaya. My life began to change in unexpected ways. I started creating art again for the first time in many, many years and learned how to machine sew. My entire attitude started to change and my life now revolved around preparing for the burn. I won't bore you with the details, but the year of preparations had its ups and downs and seemed to pass excruciatingly slow.

Finally Sunday August 28 found us in the Fernley, Nevada Walmart parking lot surrounded by burners. Not just a few, but hundreds of burners – it was like a pre burn party. I was too excited to nap even though I knew it would be a long night. After stocking up on supplies, we headed out for Black Rock City at 11:00 P.M.

We were all excited and traffic was much lighter than I expected, but as we came out of Wadsworth on 447 I saw a mass of lights north of us. I was just saying what the hell, is BRC visible from 70 miles away? When it dawned on me that those were tail lights and we would be catching up to them within minutes. We kept pace with the line of cars and turned off to the gate uneventfully at approximately 1 A.M. And within minutes were at a standstill. You couldn't see much between the dust and the darkness, but the mood of the folks on line was exuberant. We tuned in a radio station and after the first song, my son turned to me and said “did we really just hear a song about a magical penis on the radio?”. I knew we were not in Kansas anymore Toto.

After a grueling time in line we arrived at the gate. A woman in one of the sexiest outfits I've ever seen herded us out of the vehicle for its inspection. Minutes later we were on our way to the greeters and got to see the sun rise there. We got the full virgin treatment – rang the bell, rolled in the dust, got a huge hug, and were welcomed Home. Much to the amusement and cheers of those in line we stripped down before reentering the rental vehicle (we had to clean it before returning it).

As we drove away from the greeters station, I got my first good look at the playa. Home looked more like a refugee camp at the back door of hell at this point – I sure hoped it was better up close. We found a likely looking spot and parked. After a PBR toast to our arrival, we promptly set up our Monkey Hut and tent before the day heated up. Although exhausted after being up for 27 hours at this point we then proceeded to help any neighbors that needed it. I did manage a few cat naps during the day, but the playa was just beginning to show me how badly it could kick my ass and I was quite listless all day.

I'll summarize a bit here as you don't need a minute by minute account of my burn. We ended up with some great neighbors – any of them I would welcome as a neighbor here in defaultia as well. I spent a week in a magical place surrounded by some of the most loving, caring, and generous people on this planet. I saw some great stuff, wore some outrageous outfits, and gifted otter pops when we could get them to freeze. I explored as much as my level of fitness and being out of practice on a bicycle would permit (I am not in bad shape, just was not fully up to the demands the playa placed on my body). I learned that 5 minutes after showering you are just dirty as you were before the shower and learned to embrace the dust. We met many of the Eplayans at the Meet & Greet. In summary, we all had the time of our lives and I've never felt more at home.

By Sunday we all had the playa stare as we packed and mooped our site before the temple burn and left later that night. During our 3 hour exodus we again saw the sunrise while in line. At this point we were all exhausted – both physically and emotionally. It was a somber 5 day drive back to New York.

During the 17 day round trip I never actually touched cash as everything was put on a credit card and although I knew on an intellectual level that I was spending money, it just didn't seem real like touching actual money. On my first day back at work the first person to walk in the store paid with 3.50 cash and for a few seconds I just stared at it sitting on the counter before handing her the change. I nearly broke down and cried.

Now, over a month later I am finally starting to get over my post burn depression. I have been trying to craft this essay to share my Burning Man experience and it has taken days. Every time I read it I have to make changes. Perhaps because every time I sit down to write I am in a different mood, or perhaps my brain wants to say things that are difficult to put into words, or possibly because I want to make it interesting and worthy of anyone's time who chooses to read it – or more likely a combination of all three.

It was a week that affected me on so many levels that words can't even begin to describe. To loosely quote Carlos Castenada - I no longer live like an immortal being and live every moment as if it might be my last. I've given up on much of the trappings, complacency, and boredom of my mundane suburban lifestyle. I walk or ride the bike to work, I rarely turn on the TV, I create art and design clothing, I read more, and I plan for next years burn. Most importantly it has made me see the world in a different light and has renewed that sense of wonder I had when younger. Every fiber of my body and soul has a constant yearning to return home.

Burning Man Destroyed my life as I knew it. I have never been happier.
Savannah: I don't know what it is, but no thread here escapes alive. You'll get 1 or 2 real answers at minimum, occasionally 10 or 12, and then we flog it until it's unrecognizable and you can't get your deposit back.

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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby oneeyeddick » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:18 am

Great story!

And thanks for the new sig line...
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby MOOP_Czar » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:25 am

This I like.

You sir are a Happy Nihilist.

Congrats.
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby BBadger » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:26 am

What's interesting about your essay is how much you remember of your experiences before and after the burn. When you finally get to describing your experiences at the burn, it's some short description of relatively generic things, with little detail. It's like the only things you can actually relate to or transcribe are those that are connected to what you know now. Everything else in that week is from a realm that really can't be communicated.

It reminds me of what someone I know said about heaven: it's so grand and incomprehensible that if you saw even a fraction of it you would die from longing.
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby Elderberry » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:27 am

Nice.
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby trilobyte » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:37 am

For someone who says he struggled with the words, you sure managed to find just the right ones. Excellent story, thank you for sharing.

How have your wife and son been doing? Did they have similar feelings regarding the burn? Has their re-entry been okay?
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby NessaZee » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:33 am

*tear

thank you for sharing <3, i liked those words a lot :)

I too am interested in your wife and son's experience. will they go back with you?
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby Savannah » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:34 am

Drawingablank wrote:It was a week that affected me on so many levels that words can't even begin to describe. To loosely quote Carlos Castenada - I no longer live like an immortal being and live every moment as if it might be my last. I've given up on much of the trappings, complacency, and boredom of my mundane suburban lifestyle. I walk or ride the bike to work, I rarely turn on the TV, I create art and design clothing, I read more, and I plan for next years burn. Most importantly it has made me see the world in a different light and has renewed that sense of wonder I had when younger. Every fiber of my body and soul has a constant yearning to return home.

Burning Man Destroyed my life as I knew it. I have never been happier.


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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby Drawingablank » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:40 am

trilobyte wrote:For someone who says he struggled with the words, you sure managed to find just the right ones. Excellent story, thank you for sharing.

How have your wife and son been doing? Did they have similar feelings regarding the burn? Has their re-entry been okay?


Finding the right words was a very slow process in this case and that short essay probably took me 12 hours over 9 days to write. Totally the opposite of the way I normally write (One time with a spell check and proofread).

The wife was totally unaffected - her decompression took all of about 12 seconds. "the people were great and it was an interesting vacation" is about the most positive thing I can quote from her about it. I doubt she will return.

My son was already talking about bringing a much larger camp before we even left for defaultia. Of course that will kind of depend on what he ends up doing after graduation in December. He is contemplating moving to China and that would probably make his attending the burn impractical next year due to finances. I just gave him the stipulation that he needs to make some kind of decision come January - if it don't look like a bigger camp is gonna happen I need to make other arrangements for myself. His reentry was fairly painless as well, but then again he is young, less set in his ways, and being in college - parties pretty hard year round.

BBadger wrote:What's interesting about your essay is how much you remember of your experiences before and after the burn. When you finally get to describing your experiences at the burn, it's some short description of relatively generic things, with little detail. It's like the only things you can actually relate to or transcribe are those that are connected to what you know now. Everything else in that week is from a realm that really can't be communicated.

It reminds me of what someone I know said about heaven: it's so grand and incomprehensible that if you saw even a fraction of it you would die from longing.


That sums it up very well. As someone said on Eplaya previously - "If you've never been there words can't describe it, and if you have - words aren't necessary". I can't find the original post that is from to credit the author, so if anyone comes across it please let me know.

Thanks to all for your kind comments - it makes me feel the agonizing writing process was worth it.
Savannah: I don't know what it is, but no thread here escapes alive. You'll get 1 or 2 real answers at minimum, occasionally 10 or 12, and then we flog it until it's unrecognizable and you can't get your deposit back.

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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby moonrise » Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:04 am

Wonderful story!

I particularly love the finish line.

Drawingablank wrote...
"Burning Man Destroyed my life as I knew it. I have never been happier."
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby MyDearFriend » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:54 pm

(((DAB)))

Wow.

8)

Thank you for writing this, and posting it.
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby trilobyte » Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:21 pm

The 'for those who've never been...' explanation has been around for years. I think I saw it in the Beyond Black Rock DVD (cool docu, btw), though I'd heard it from others long before that film came out.

I'm glad you took the time, it certainly reads like you got it right. Glad to hear that re-entry was painless for the wife and son. Sounds like your re-entry may have been exactly what you needed, transformational in a very good way. I'm glad that you're a part of the community, and look forward to seeing what kind of fun stuff you get up to in the months and years ahead.
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby delle » Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:43 pm

((((DAB))))

A huge hug for having taken the time to get that out there PERFECTLY.

(lord knows I understand how important it was to you to do so too.....)

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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby Jax Dee » Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:21 am

Really enjoyed this. Thx for sharing :)
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby deutlich » Thu Oct 13, 2011 5:05 am

Oh, man.. this was awesome to read. Thank you for sharing!

and Trilo -- that's the documentary that hooked me!!
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby Sham » Thu Oct 13, 2011 5:46 am

Very well said and written. I hear all the time from people who THINK they know what this festival is all about. They've seen pictures and read articles and they KNOW. Once they attend, there really are no words to describe the sights, the feel, the smell, the aura and the people that ARE Burning Man. It simply is nothing like you can imagine.

Good luck with your next year of planning. I think I need to remind you again about "no expectations". Things you expect to see again on year two, will be very different from your first year. Different, but better!
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby Drawingablank » Thu Oct 13, 2011 7:56 am

Several more thanks for the new comments.

Expectations - Funny you should mention that. I went in 2011 with fairly few other than expecting to be at the M&G and to visit many of the eplayan's camps. I even made a list with the locations of all who posted them here. I did make the M&G, but only actually visited 2 eplayan camps (and one was BDC&WB). It turns out that I left my list back in the car in Salt Lake City (along with all the shopping lists). I looked up a couple camps at playa info, but once on playa time I really didn't have much patience for using the computer. All our art had to be abandoned back at default home because we couldn't fit any more in the car and survival stuff took preference - so from our elaborate preparations all we ended up with was a flag at the burn.

For 2012 I have about the same few expectations, but hopefully my "to visit" list will make it all the way to the burn. I am already in better physical shape and hope to be able to explore more, and I will figure out a way to get at least some of the the art projects to the playa this time.
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby Sunfish » Thu Oct 13, 2011 11:23 am

Wonderful story, thanks for posting it.
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby Simon of the Playa » Thu Oct 13, 2011 11:46 am

trilobyte wrote:The 'for those who've never been...' explanation has been around for years. I think I saw it in the Beyond Black Rock DVD (cool docu, btw), though I'd heard it from others long before that film came out.

I'm glad you took the time, it certainly reads like you got it right. Glad to hear that re-entry was painless for the wife and son. Sounds like your re-entry may have been exactly what you needed, transformational in a very good way. I'm glad that you're a part of the community, and look forward to seeing what kind of fun stuff you get up to in the months and years ahead.



WOW..

synchroinkydinky...

My GF and I watched it last night, it's available on N*tFl*x instant, and it's the next best thing to decompression as far as getting that "Burny feeling" back after re-entry.


David Best is the Best....a truly wonderful documentary...***sniff...homesick***
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby Roberto Dobbisano » Thu Oct 13, 2011 11:54 am

forgive him, he misses the smell of propane in the morning.

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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby Drawingablank » Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:36 pm

Roberto Dobbisano wrote:forgive him, he misses the smell of propane in the morning.

Image


Lol, I do miss the smell of BRC in the morning. I actually saved all the dust that came out of my tarp and tent, but it lacks the full playa aroma.

I delayed washing the playa coat for weeks because it reeked of playa and if I closed my eyes it brought me back (and as a side benefit probably freaked my neighbors out). But making it was too much work to risk the dust damaging it from long term dust exposure so I broke down and washed it after a few weeks.
Savannah: I don't know what it is, but no thread here escapes alive. You'll get 1 or 2 real answers at minimum, occasionally 10 or 12, and then we flog it until it's unrecognizable and you can't get your deposit back.

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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby LostinReno » Thu Oct 13, 2011 1:34 pm

Thanks for sharing your story! I've tried to put it in words so many times, without much success, kudos! It really is like trying to explain a color to a blind person. You did well! 8)
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby junglesmacks » Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:00 pm

DAB..

Honestly, I can't wait to see what your second year itch brings out of you creation-wise..


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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby peachandpapa » Thu Oct 13, 2011 4:51 pm

Wow! You took me right back to the Playa. You thought it took a long time for your first Burn to come...this year will take even longer! Shade structures, art cars, and fire will be dancing in your dreams!
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby mgb327 » Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:57 pm

Wonderful, well done. I am suffering through a difficult re-entry here in the sticks of Virginia, nobody understands, nor wants to hear about it, so I hang out here on eplaya for hours every night. Counting the days til I can go home again.
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby Savannah » Fri Oct 14, 2011 4:06 pm

mgb327, they can't help it--it's so difficult to explain. So I'm glad you're here.

317 days, 7 hours, 53 minutes, 5 seconds until Gates open. :)
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby junglesmacks » Fri Oct 14, 2011 4:14 pm

Savannah wrote:mgb327, they can't help it--it's so difficult to explain. So I'm glad you're here.

317 days, 7 hours, 53 minutes, 5 seconds until Gates open. :)


But who's counting?
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:54 pm

mgb327 wrote:Wonderful, well done. I am suffering through a difficult re-entry here in the sticks of Virginia, nobody understands, nor wants to hear about it, so I hang out here on eplaya for hours every night. Counting the days til I can go home again.

You have checked out the regionals, I hope. Many places have weekly get togethers. I know some burners in Tennessee. Maybe a long weekend or something...
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby lemur » Sun Oct 16, 2011 8:03 pm

Drawingablank wrote:
Lol, I do miss the smell of BRC in the morning. I actually saved all the dust that came out of my tarp and tent, but it lacks the full playa aroma.



tip: getting playa dust wet brings out the smell.. sprinkle a little bit on the table, sprits a little water on it..... ENJOY!
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Re: Burning Man Destroyed My Life

Postby Drawingablank » Mon Oct 17, 2011 6:17 am

lemur wrote:
Drawingablank wrote:
Lol, I do miss the smell of BRC in the morning. I actually saved all the dust that came out of my tarp and tent, but it lacks the full playa aroma.



tip: getting playa dust wet brings out the smell.. sprinkle a little bit on the table, sprits a little water on it..... ENJOY!

Nice, can't wait to get home from work and give that a try. Thanks
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