Thursday, September 3, 2009

The life lessons of Burning Man

Is there anything you *can't* learn from the insane desert art festival?

As I've been lured back to the sweltering, dusty sexed-up madness that is Burning Man again this year -- my sixth time -- by a gaggle of delicious friends, I am hereby reminded of a few hundred truths, half-truths, outright lies and astonishing epiphanies offered up by the world-famous, Christian-feared, beautifully debauched, sensory overloaded, impossible-to-describe art-survivalist-camping-rave megaspectacle now underway in the remote Nevada desert.

If you've ever wondered at the appeal, the urge, the drive to attend such a thing, if you've heard wisps of the mythology and the mystery and the epic weirdness or even seen a few pictures and wondered, you know, WTF, maybe these tidbits can help.

Then again, maybe not. With something like Burning Man, there really is only one way to know for sure.

You are not who you thought you were

Countless are the tales and numerous are the personal friends who were once to be found hovering near the far end of the overly anxious, tightly wound, frenetic Type-A personality scale, who attended BM for the first time and wandered out on the playa at sundown and just so happened to stumble upon, say, Serpent Mother, or the giant goddesses, or one of David Best's breathtaking temples or any of a thousand other unearthly spectacles and suddenly felt their skull crack open and their eyes spin around in their sockets and their brain fold back in on itself.

Right there and forevermore, their worldview shifted. Their id swallowed its own tongue. Possibility opened its legs wide and went, ahhh. In short, they lightened the hell up. It's rather astonishing how often this happens, and not just to the uptight and the pushy. This is one of the most powerful aspects of the event: It almost matters not from which angle you approach it -- Burning Man is an equal opportunity soul exploder.

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