I want to thank all the contributors to ePlaya. Their posts provide a wealth of information and insight for those of us who are relatively new to Burning Man and what it's all about. I especially want to thank junglesmacks and ugly dougly for their input. They both captured the large part of the spirit of Burning Man in their responses to my "Wander Aimlessly Amongst Theme Camps?" inquiry. Their responses even made me loosen my tie (figure of speech--I try not to wear one if at all possible).
The Burn of 2012 was my second. I came last year but didn't get a ticket until the Thursday before the Man burned on Saturday. As such, 2011 was a short Burn.
I've concluded Disneyland isn't the happiest place on Earth anymore. It's Burning Man and its positive, creative, joyous energy. On more than one occasion I stopped dancing only to do a complete circle while I took in all the smiling faces that resonated with something we don't see too often in the Default World-----Pure Joy. People grinning from ear to ear and moving their bodies to any variety of music without any hint of inhibition or reservation.
The type of music ran the gamut---from techno beat to the an awesome Bluegrass Jam where moonshine and corn whiskey passed amongst the revelers. To offset (or complement) the alcohol, bags of healthy trail made their way amongst the crowd. The younger generation in their 20's knew the words to many of the old Bluegrass songs. I was amazed. After precisely singing along with the band, one of the young guys turned to me and, while perceiving my amazement, said, "It's timeless music, man." I felt old and out of it. The ardor for Bluegrass music skipped my generation. Yet, it felt good to see the young appreciating and respecting timeless music of old.
Unconditional acceptance was everywhere. Pre-judgment didn't rear its ugly head. An open mind was prevalent everywhere as demonstrated by the creative costumes, worn with pride and aplomb. And then there are those whi proudly and comfortably strutted in their birthday suits. Everybody "letting their hair down." What a relief, what a departure from the Default World.
Burning Man is a celebration of Life and Living. It is unconditional acceptance, joy, smiles, and experiences all packaged together in a harsh, desert environment. The experience, over the course of a week, can be like a roller coaster. You may experience some lows (i.e., playa dust plastered on your teeth and/or someone "borrowing" your bike or goggles), but you also experience highs manufactured by a level of boundless and uninhibited creativity you'll never see in the Default World. All this wrapped up in the warm bosom of unconditional acceptance. And that's what makes Burning Man so unique and so damn refreshing.
Last year I was a bit embarrassed to say I had been to Burning Man. People wouldn't understand and they'd judge. Ironically, I couldn't tolerate their intolerance. This year, I didn't care quite so much because I know the spirit and essence of Burning Man is emblazoned in my soul. It gives me passion and makes me smile. Burning Man allows people to be free without judgment. In that regard, it's a perfect world yet in a harsh environment. At the same time, the harsh environment (i.e., dust storms) mightily contribute to the overall experience.
People often misjudge Burning Man and automatically visualize people drugging, drinking and fornicating in the dust. I'm here to say, I didn't see anyone drinking---just kidding. I attended events that lectured on the wildlife (animal---not human) of the Black Rock Desert. I also went to an interesting event that discussed the philosophy of Burning Man.
Burning Man is the accidental making of a counterculture. Who knew the 8 foot man constructed and torched before 20 people on Baker Beach in 1986 would spawn such a counterculture? The participants, in conjunction with the keen organizational skills of Burning Man Organization, contributed to the evolution of Burning Man to make it what it is today.
So, while I'm telling more people about my attendance at Burning Man this year I still hesitate to some extent. He/She may pre-judge and jump to conclusions without first keeping an open mind. And then I say to myself, "Maybe we should keep Burning Man our own little, well publicised secret."
Well, contributors of e-playa, thanks for all the info, all the insight and all the suggestions for my list for my week of radical self reliance at Burning Man. I couldn't have done it without you all.