Friday, September 16, 2011
When there is nothing left to Burn you must set yourself on fire.
An entry to the abyss,
It has been a little under a week since I got back from my latest travels and I feel that I have had ample time to reflect on what has transpired over the past couple weeks. In the Springtime near the end of the Ski Season I purchased my Burning Man ticket to ensure that my summer adventures were complete. I had heard numerous accounts of how intense a week in Black Rock City could be but really did not know what I was getting myself into.
It was somewhat of a process finding a ride to Burning Man and I was quite worried that I would have to rally the Subaru down there which had seen enough adventures this summer. With some persistence I found a ride share online from an amazing Canadian, Jen, who picked me up on Monday afternoon. We drove all night and arrived in Gerlach, NV, the closest town to the event, just after sunrise the next morning.
I was humbled and astonished upon arriving to Black Rock City, it was easy to pick up my will call ticket and the lineup was next to nothing since it opened up over 24 hours before. We were greeted with hugs and a friendly "Welcome Home" from the people at the gate. The address that Patrick gave me for the campsite was inaccurate and I was unable to locate him initially. So for the first day we decided to not set up camp anywhere and proceeded to adventure around the playa on bicycle. I was absolutely blown away by the intricacy of the artwork put into this event. Every instillation, especially the Temple, was designed with such grace and creativity. It is truly astonishing the amount of time and effort put into this event for only a week's worth of enjoyment.
The week proceeded as I would have imagined with so much more thrown in along the way. Eventually I ended finding Patrick who was with Camp No Fun and Camp Warlock, with who I spent a significant amount of time with. They constructed a 3 story tall scaffolding structure which a couch and hammock on top. This became one of my favorite places to relax and watch the madness of the city ensue. Thanks to all in the camps who provided so much hospitality, Dan O, T-Funk, Tara, Leslie, Rennee, Billy, Cookie and all the other I forgot.
Over the course of the week I attended workshops, hit up as many bars as I could, watched people destroy each other in the Thunderdome, enjoyed the spectacle of flaming art cars, played my accordion at open mics and honestly interacted with everyone I encountered. At Burning Man manifest destiny is the law and you can really be whoever you want. A lot of people adopt "Playa Names" and evolve personalities to fit the situation. Occasionally I went by "Taters" (seeing as I brought a lot of potatoes for sustenance) but most often gave my real name and tried to remain true to my identity. The costumes and charades are somewhat of spectacle but really the true self is revealed if necessary.
I enjoyed the no money economy and didn't touch my wallet the entire week. I had brought a significant amount of calcite quartz that I had rock hounded on my journeys this summer. Some people gave away stickers, small trinkets or whatever they could to give away. Even though it costs a significant amount to get in the gate and to prepare for, knowing that this type of non monetary society can function is reassuring.
It was quite humbling watching the art pieces burn over the course of the weekend. On Friday camp Troy burned their Trojan Horse in a spectacular display of fireworks and freedom. On Saturday I got rather close to the burning of the Man and was blown away at the spectacle that ensued. At the moment it all collapsed I felt an assurance that all is right and in a way it helped me accept my own demise. Jen and I packed up her car on Sunday and watched the Temple Burn from a distance and left right after in collapsed. It was sentimental feeling watching the beautiful structure fall and knowing all the love that had been put into it. It was an excellent reminder of how fleeting beauty is.
The decompression travels after the better part of a week in Black Rock City was interesting. We encountered a long line and dust storm on our way out so it made it somewhat of stressful situation. Jen is an excellent road trip partner and we powered through and got out of Nevada fast. We decided that going to the Bay Area was a great idea and the next day we found our selves in Berkeley, CA. I reconnected with a friend a made through Clean Vibes after Outside Lands. I attended a lecture at the University and a Yoga Class downtown. It was a nice transition back to the default world. Thank you to Erica, Pia and Joia for taking us in, I spent part of the week busking with my accordion once more in San Fransisco along the Fisherman's Wharf and in Golden Gate Park. Jen found San Fransisco to cold and frantic for her tastes and we decided to travel northwards. We crashed one night near Mt. Shasta and the next day booked it to Portland Oregon. We made a brief stop to visit my cousin Gretchen and her amazing family who I hadn't seen since her wedding last fall. Ended up staying with another friend made over the summer, Laura from String Summit. I was grateful for her hospitality and she showed us an interesting side of her neighborhood in NE Portland. We drove up though Washington the next day and I felt back at home. A million thanks to Jen the best road trip partner ever.
Again I find myself back in Whatcom County, jumping back between Bellingham and where I used to live off highway 542. I have been song writing and pedicabbing a good amount when I can. Mainly I am searching for some sort of stability. This nomadic lifestyle has worn down on me physically, mentally and spiritually. The Burn really does take a special type and I feel for my first time I did it just right. I used a quote from a song for the title of this post from the band "Stars" and the album/song "Set Yourself on Fire." It is gorgeous music and I thought it appropriate for once reason or another.
I don't know what the future holds, for now I am thinking about winter a lot and considering whether I should work back at Mt. Baker or find more profitable employment. Although I am still a lost soul and a tiny functioning cog in a giant machine, I feel that I am perfectly happy with my current existence. I work hard when and where I can, contributing to whatever situation I am currently involved in. An old neighbor reassured me that my choices were validated "Do it while your young" she said and I couldn't agree more. There will be a time when I settle down and have a home base again but for now the gypsy lifestyle is too alluring. Thank you for reading this and I hope to post again once I pick up my traveling feet. Until then Peace & Love