[originally published August 1, 2013 as The Man Burns In 30 Days)
So, I guess I may as well fess up at the get-go.
I'm obsessed with Burning Man. And, the Man burns in 30 days.
2013 will be my 8th consecutive year out on the Nevada desert - an annual "pilgrimage".
There. I said it.
I used to think that if I made it widely known, people I wanted to do business with would get all "judge-y" on me. Obviously, I was projecting my own stuff, based on the (naive and uneducated) image I held about this "little" art festival. It's definitely part of who I am now. I'd like to think that the lessons I learn out there are woven into my daily life and business. Who knew I’d take to it in such a way that it would influence my life, including my business? If you haven’t been out there, I can’t do it justice with a lame explanation here. What I can do, however, is put up some photos that will at least give you a sense of what it looks like. The feeling I get from being there, amongst 68 thousand citizens (2013) of Black Rock City? Fugget-about-it. No can do.
Since I barely drink alcohol and don’t do drugs, and I’m definitely not an exhibitionist, I figured (like most of my friends and family members) that I’d be out of place on the playa. Actually, it is exactly the opposite. There’s a feeling of "one-ness" out there like no other place I’ve known. People actually thrive where even insects cannot survive. No money exchanges hands, except for the ice and coffee offered by BurningManOrg. It’s the largest leave-no-trace event in the world, and has spawned hundreds of regional events globally. Life is simple there, and yet, it’s a huge challenge. Survial can become extremely complicated, based on the elements (Mother Nature) alone. It’s raw, and compelling. Artists flock there to create, and then destroy their creations. People from around the world, all walks of life, gather there at Burning Man to create community - physically, and spiritually. In fact, one of the highlights of last year's burn was the addition of a TEDx regional event, where I was moved to tears by one of the talks from a man who built a self-sustaining community in Costa Rica with his family.
What fascinates me most, other than the fact that I feel so centered and connected to community there, is that this event is run 80% by volunteers! That’s the statistic I learned 8 years ago, and I’m pretty sure it’s still accurate. Campmates of ours are Rangers, others work at Center Camp, as Lamplighters, and I, myself have volunteered at BMIR radio. I love doing voice over, so I volunteered to record PSAs for our Theme Camp events and activities.
And, as a business model, it’s also fascinating to be part of. Shrouded in controversy, opinions, judgments, and challenges, including a really nasty PR blunder (over ticket purchasing) a couple years ago, Burning Man has gone from a gathering of 20 "creatives" (read: "hippies") on Baker Beach in San Francisco (1986), to one of the most sought-after tickets across all demographics. And, it 'aint cheap.
If you want to go, hit me up for a conversation. I’ve learned and created tricks about how to eat well, and nourish body, mind, and soul out there. So, I guess you could say that I’ve blended my passion for travel, food, community, and business, all wrapped up into this annual experience, at "home" on the playa.
Tell me about your Burning Man experiences and your pre-conceived notions too. If you know anyone else who is obsessed with Burning Man, and especially the art-sy types, feel free to share this post with them. And if you know anyone who would like a solar-powered, electric, plug-n-play Mutant Vehicle, we are finally ready to let go of ours, so be sure to reach out directly to me.
Let’s swap stories of life and miracles on the playa.