I’m back from La Playa, alive and well. This was my first year at Burning Man. That’s right, me and 68,000 other people gathered in the dusty hot Black Rock desert for some memorable adventures and soul strengthening moments.
Mainly because I went with an open heart and open mind, and I left with gifts of a lifetime I will never forget — and happy to share these gifts with anyone who is curious and who wants to BELIEVE in having new adventures.
Larry Harvey is one of the early founders of BM, and the 10 Principles of Burning Man he designed at least 15 years ago still hold true. Perhaps it will be the new religion when my little friend “Penguin” (that’s his Playa name) grows up.
Burning Man is of a sort of utopia. The Ten Principles provide a code of conduct that maintains an equality on the playa that is greater than anywhere else I know. While it is true that the rich and famous fly in to stay in RVs and enjoy private art cars to get around the playa, for the most part, celebrities and the wealthy at Burning Man mix it up and get as dusty as everyone else. We are all equal when we practice these 10 Principles.
1. Radical Inclusion
Anyone can be part of Burning Man. They can also be part of the art installations — which helps you “like” it much more.
There is no money being exchanged. Everything is gifted and the act of giving is unconditional.
In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, the community creates social environments that do not include commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. Except for maybe the Post Office and TEDTalks.
4. Radical self-reliance
This is one of my favorites. It encourages us to discover, exercise, and rely on our inner resources. People make the most amazing art cars and decorate their bikes.
Each individual has a unique gift to contribute. And it always tastes better after a big hug.
The community collaborates on creative projects and everyone participates. This special concert by these amazing musicians who played on top of this van was amazing and very refreshing after listening to non-stop Dubstep music.
7. Civic responsibility
“We value civil society,” Harvey advocated (2004). “Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.”
8. Leaving no trace
This is the most fascinating part of this experience. You come leave the playa the way you found it. The community respects the environmentand is committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them. The main burns are the Man and the Temple.
“Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic, and believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.” I witnessed a marriage at sunrise in the Temple and the couple asked everyone there to participate in their union.
Be here now, be present. When no one has internet connection on La Playa, you get to watch the faces of people expressing themselves, listening, laughing, talking and not staring down at their smartphone screen.
How do I feel from all this? Am I “burned” out? Nope. I feel blissful.
“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.”