The Thing about Burning Man

What is it about Burning Man?  Why we all come back looking exhausted & radiant?

I can't speak with absolute certainty, but I do know this:  It works on much the same principle of brainwashing as does the military & Jesus camps who, I might note, have some of the highest success rates of any organizations.  In this case, you can't help but love it.

It starts with a simple doctrine: Radical Self-Reliance....Thou shalt not MOOP.  MOOP being originally "Matter Out On the Playa" and becoming simply "Matter Out Of Place"....I like the second, because I think it can easily be said to follow the RSR Doctrine....anyone not following the doctrine could easily be said to be MOOP, an undesirable bit of stuff wandering about the playa waiting for someone else to take care of it.  Radical Self-Reliance is about knowing one's self well enough to prepare and take responsibility for our actions & choices, rather than relying on others to take care of you.  You bring the necessary supplies & shelter, clean up after yourself, and make sure that any ridiculous thing you do is at a level that you can handle without needing others to do it for you.

So one takes the doctrine & prepares.  Food, Shelter, First Aid....anything anyone can think of to go wrong & need.  There's even a guide to help you.  Believing oneself ready, you take your doctrine, supplies, fuzzies & glowies, and you head out.  And it is with your arrival to the great Black Rock City that the brainwashing begins.

The first thing that happens on your arrival in Black Rock City (BRC) is that you get hit with dust.  Lots of dust.  Dust storms.  Having believed yourself prepared, you say "No one told me about the--*khak!* *gack!* *gasp!*", your words cut off as another white out buffets you to & fro.  You cower in your tent, looking every bit as though you are experiencing the end of the world, breathing through a dust mask & peering out only occasionally with goggle-encased eyes, disbelieving that such a phenomenon can last through the entire DAY(??), and hoping that if your tent blows away, it won't decide to take you with it (I'm sure it's happened).  When you do emerge, everything you own is covered in dust...not a fine layer, mind you, but actual dunes.
At some point, usually mid-week, sooner if "letting go" is easy for you, you give up hope of ever being clean again...not for the rest of the week, mind you, but ever again in your life.  The dust has permeated every part of your being.  It has snuck through every battened down hatch of your stuff.  It is not only on you, it is in you, having crept into every orifice of your body, absorbing through skin, and casting everything in a slightly greyish tone.

This is the breakdown of self....and as you struggle on, RSR ever in the back of your mind, something amazing happens...

You stop caring.

You stop worrying about being clean, looking nice, being clean, whether you were properly prepared for this, being clean, your woes in the outside world, that your tent just blew away with your house keys....Did I mention being clean?  You just stop caring about that.

And what that gives you is the ability to care about something else.  To care - really care - about yourself, about others, about being part of a community.  You feel more yourself than you ever have.  You wander out into the desert, a dazed expression on your face, remembering that you got yourself into this and you must continue the doctrine.

And then another amazing thing happens.  Everyone you meet wants to hug you, feed you, give you treats, take care of you, body & soul, without - because you adhered to the doctrine - you ever asking them.  You wonder how the world could ever be different than this glorious display of love.  Why, life should always be like this, you think to yourself.

And despite the fact that you will return to the outside world in mere days, you know in your heart of hearts that it isn't the real world you are returning to.

Oh, and you get to see things set on fire.  That is totally freaking awesome.

That is what Burning Man is.

© Content property of Andromeda Ross, all rights reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment