I’m not entirely sure what to make of the last week or so.
Biopic by way of a quick example: Imagine going out to dance at night, getting lost, yet still managing to have a good time, waking up in the middle of the desert with the sun coming up over the horizon, walking the half mile or so back home as quickly as possible to avoid getting dehydrated by the heat, then rushing to a scheduled seminar lead by a poly-amorous woman-identified accountant. How interesting you find that previous sentence depends almost entirely on who you are, perhaps ranging from “the most exciting night of your entire life”, to “a college Tuesday” .
I’ve been told that as a first timer I’m handling BM quite well. Well apparently I’ve always been amoral just extremely boring in how I go about being so. I never found anything I saw there shocking or offensive, although as a straight, single male, I belong to the least inclusive demographic with many barred doors thus frankly, never really had the opportunity to get shocked. In many ways the experience was quite mundane and ordinary, no more surreal than had I gone to London. In fact, it was a lot like my London trip: looking at interesting architecture and art all the while waiting in god forsaken queues and surrounded by people that appear to be speaking some indecipherable dialect of English. I suppose this is more an observation about myself than anything particular about where I’ve been.
People seem to range from the utterly hedonistic and self-absorbed, to the lost and emotional, desperate for some spiritual connection. The former aren’t as interesting to me as good times are probably had much easier and far better in the haven of euro trash electronica that is “Anywhere but most of America”-stan, but the latter held for me a strange obsession. They seemed so deeply invested in their own egos that I couldn’t stand to listen to them talk about their hardships and struggles at the Temple, or how amazing and spiritual an experience they had on the playa, or their particular insightful observation about an artistic exhibit, even as I restrained those same impulses in myself. I think what really bugged me was that I’ve really heard it all before. Remove all the interesting nouns and what you have left are people who are deeply affected by the loss of a loved one, or so incredibly happy they’re getting married they need to tell the world, or so lonely and disenfranchised they cling to an ideology, or demanding of appreciation and success they don’t get elsewhere. At the core they’re no different than any other people I’ve met in my life, and I guess that’s supposed to make me love and appreciate them all the more, but in actuality it just makes me hate them as much as the rest of humanity. It would be pithy and dismissive of me to group Burning Man with BBQ slideshows, work sanctioned mixers, and online dating, but would it be wrong? Same drama, just less clothes.
I guess what I’m trying to say is I utterly missed the point of Burning Man and I’m not quite sure how that makes me feel. At the very least, I think it’s worth going again next year with an open mind, and more importantly, better foresight and planning to see if switching up the variables leads to a better experience.
Not that I had a bad time, everything and everyone was incredible and uniquely enjoyable, I’m just having difficulty assigning an inherently spiritual value to the entire experience.
I’ve never felt so alive yet so empty before.