To see personal photos from Burning Man: click here.
Imagine 50,000 people coming to the playa, a remote, desolate desert of nothing but sun a dry lake bed of cracked dusty earth building a temporary city, sharing everything from food water to wine, music trailer parts, building exquisite works of arts, taking part in various forms of celebration then, before departing, burning most of it up exit leaving no trace.
This is Burning Man.
At first glance you’ll see an experience of survival in the middle of the Nevada desert called Black Rock City (named after the organization that puts on the community driven event). From Bend the journey is a good nine hours through the wide open countryside of Summer Lake, Lakeview, Cedarville to Gerlach pulling a trailer up down steep inclines.
You must prepare for surviving in very hot weather bringing all of your own food, water shelter. You must learn to survive without a shower or even washing your hair, dirt rubbing into your skin baby wipes becoming your best friend for nine days.
If you’re in a tent, then you’re really roughing it, facing the fear of extreme elements from high winds blowing so much dust that you can’t see one foot in front of you to hot blistering sun with little relief. (If you arrived in just a car…wow, brave you!) Having an RV or trailer is a blessing, but you’re still in the middle of the desert!
But when you indulge closer you realize this is much more about a culture of art, self-expression, sharing gifting than surviving the elements. While rumors of drugs, sex nudity abound, it’s not paramount to the festival-like event. Yes, it does take you away from your ordinary life offers various instructions, if you choose to partake, in sexual enhancement….like having more or better orgasms. I missed that workshop; I was too busy trying to stay cool.
My fellow Burning Man attendees were particularly kind generous (this attitude is really the center force of the event), many are talented artists nearly everyone encountered possessed a poignant free-spirit that lends itself to radical self expression entrepreneurship.
While some photos project a circus-like party the city is carefully laid out in an organized clock-like blueprint there are rules. You cannot purchase anything (except ice a coffee at The Center Camp Cafe) you cannot sell, barter or trade anything. You give freely of what you have to share you accept gifts readily (such as Burning Man jewelry, scarves to cover your face from the dust cocktails, served openly in various funky tents, thumping art cars or double-decker contraptions).
The artistic creations of Burning Man from large wooden cutting-edge structures to intricately designed sculptures are strikingly noteworthy. At any moment you could encounter cup-cake cars, dragon-flaming vehicles, water fountains on wheels or a giant octopus with flames spewing from large propane tanks.
Just when you think you’ve seen the most amazing artistic contraptions word comes that 300 volunteer ‘slaves’ will pull a gigantic Trojan Horse into the middle of the desert one night, flaming arrows will set it on fire fireworks will explode from the top as it burns to the ground. This is when you amazingly wonder: how did I get here?
On Saturday night is the customary burning of the Burning Man statue, which takes its name from the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy in reference to the traditional establishment referred to as the ‘man.’ Visitors traverse a lamp-lined boulevard leading to Burning Man in a rather Egyptian-like experience. The structure sits atop two pinnacles divided by a chasm. Burners may climb wooden ladders to get a feel for his inner core. Four semi-pyramids with flaming braziers surround the awe-inspiring structure. On the night of the burning thous s of spectators stood back as it burned in honor of the spirit of the makeshift community.
On a windy, near white out afternoon we slowly traveled by foot past Burning Man to The Temple of Tears where a spiritual, meditative encounter of written words to passed loved ones mementos from their lives now lost was set in the middle of the desert. Chanting, chiming bells tears were abundant. If one thought that Burning Man was just a big party, they would be thoroughly taken back by the spirituality of this temporary sanctuary as it too was burned before thous s.
Where do ‘Burners’ go from here? We’re asked not to go back to our old life without some change. We’re asked to keep the spirit alive. We’re asked to take our lessons share exp .
Before I go forth I must take a brief repose congratulate myself my fearless friend who shared this experience with me, Joanne Sunnarborg, for taking the journey.
My simple lesson from Burning Man: interaction, kindness sharing. I hope to have a gentler way of looking at things promote tolerance, compassion kindness.
by PAMELA HULSE ANDREWS Cascade A&E Publisher