New Beginnings

I’ve decided to try a new strategy for Sunrise Burners: shorter, more frequent posts that I hope will provide greater overall value for readers interested in attending Burning Man. So here’s my first brief entry:

Burning Man is not perfect, and those readers who have responded to my posts by complaining that I’ve missed the “problems” in talking about the benefits may well have a point: I really try to sell Burning Man to people, because I want them to share in the experience. So focusing on the problems (e.g., rising costs of attendance, the possibilities of crime, health concerns in the harsh desert environment) is simply not my purpose. I want to honestly alert people to Burning Man’s imperfections, but also remind all of you that the overwhelming impact for me has been positive and exciting, and has added new dimension to my life.

I’ll be turning 70 shortly after Burning Man 2014 ends, and I really appreciate how many ways Burning Man has added to the vitality to my life. That doesn’t excuse some of the negatives. To be honest, Lashes and I had our share of downers at the most recent Burn. But we also felt like it was the best overall Burn we had been to since our first (there’s just no way to improve on that first-time playa experience). So I’m pushing aside both my own negatives and some of the criticisms I read about our site, and moving forward with increased energy. We’re looking for new volunteer opportunities in the upcoming year because we’ve always found that playing an active role in Burning Man makes it a far better experience.

Art like this is one of the life-altering experiences we love best about Burning Man

Art like this is one of the life-altering experiences we love best about Burning Man


With the help of some friends we’ve made at earlier Burns, we’re actively seeking to burst out of the limitations that we’ve created for ourselves by repeating too many of our experiences every year, and find new challenges. I’ve mentioned before on this site that there are plenty of ways people can apply their current skills or their willingness to learn new ones at the Burn. Learn to be a barista, help with some of the art projects, look into serving as a Temple Guardian or a Greeter, be a Lamplighter at least once during the Burn. You can find out about all the volunteer processes on the volunteering FAQ page.

For those who feel like I’m overly positive about Burning Man, I give you my full respect and my appreciation of your views. But this blog is not the place where I plan to go into depth, either philosophically or journalistically, about what’s bad – because for us, it’s been such a great enhancement of our lives.

Enjoy it with us in 2014.

Burners for Life?

Because we attend Burning Man regularly, we frequently refer to ourselves as Burners, and we have many other Burner friends who do the same.  Like most of them, we’ve always thought of our Burner lives as only one persona among several.  For example, we’re also retired from the work we did for some 30 years, and still have connections to that work and the individuals who were our colleagues then.  In addition, we spend part of the year living in a retirement community where we have developed numerous relationships. We’re also parents and grandparents with close and important ties to those we care about the most – our family.  Finally, we spend our winters skiing and working part-time in North Lake Tahoe ski resorts, and we’ve made many friends there as well.

We’re obviously Burners annually when we attend Burning Man, and also during Burn-related events such as decompressions or parties for Burner friends.  We love to get involved in our regional group’s CORE art projects, because art is what drew us to Burning Man in the first place.

But our lives do not orbit exclusively around Burning Man.  For people our age, I think that’s important to understand.  The commitment that you make to Burning Man can be at any level you desire.  It can be for one week in the Nevada desert or for the entire year if you choose to make fellow Burners more central to your life.

Burner families -- not all the same.

Burner families — not all the same.

Our choice is a mix.  We always proudly call ourselves Burners, and we feel Burning Man has enriched our lives in a multitude of ways.  But we also see ourselves as parents and grandparents, as members of our senior community, and as residents of North Lake Tahoe during the winter.  We focus on these individual parts of our lives as it suits us and as necessity requires it.   When we’re in our “active adult” community, we socialize with our friends of similar age and interests, and take advantage of the amenities that are part of that lifestyle.  In Lake Tahoe, we see mostly our fellow workers and skiers.  And when we’re with our children and grandchildren, our lives are all about family.

Making choices about how to play out your Burner persona is one of the factors that allows us – at this stage of our lives – to continue participating in Burning Man, to continue enjoying the parts of being a Burner in which we choose to participate.  For us, going to Burning Man is not a full-time commitment, although it certainly can be.

We’ve had a ball going to decompressions and parties with some of our Burner friends, “meeting” with them on Facebook, and participating in occasional work weekends out in the Black Rock desert.  We sometimes even meet with the parents of our Burner friends to try to recruit them to come to the festival.

But we never feel committed to attend any particular event.  We like to keep our options open and socialize with our full range of friends and family, both in and out of Burning Man.