The Decalcification Factor

At this stage of our lives (a very late stage for those of you who haven’t met us yet), we’ve grown concerned about many issues that can be categorized under the heading “health.” And one of those issues that concerns us the most is the resilience of our brains. We fear becoming calcified old people in our thinking far more than we fear the aches and pains that come along with an aging body. It’s the decalcification factor that’s one of the main reasons we continue to go to Burning Man at the end of each summer, and that we plan to keep it up for as long as we can.

Letting go at Burning Man: a real change of pace for me

Letting go at Burning Man: a real change of pace for me

Each year as we depart Burning Man, we feel anything but old. In fact, we feel far younger than we recall feeling 20 years ago. To us, Burning Man is better than all of those “brain games” combined to keep minds flexible, youthful and active. When you’ve spent a week looking at incredible art; when you’ve hung out with people less than half your age who nonetheless made you feel like you belonged; and when you’ve laughed your way through dust storms and high desert temperatures — the rest of life seems so much more inviting.

What I’ve learned at Burning Man is that I can love and enjoy people who are so different from me that I might never have come in contact with them in the default world; that I’m capable of throwing judgmental thinking out the window; and that I can still be thrilled by something unexpected. Burning Man is the exact opposite of “settling down,” something we did a long time ago but badly need to escape at least once a year.

In other words, I’ve learned that I’m still alive and there’s no reason to worry about the alternative. As a couple, we’ve learned to enjoy the richness of our married life again. Part of it is the sex – which infuses the atmosphere of Burning Man. But it’s more than re-learning to appreciate the physical love we share, it’s also gaining a greater appreciation for our creative souls and the pleasure that artistry, whimsy and just plain fun brings to our lives.

We might never have realized that we were slowly, steadily giving up these aspects of our existence if we had not gone to Burning Man, rekindled our youthfulness and decalcified our minds. I’m personally not an individual who finds it easy to let go, so the experience of a week of nothing but letting go has been revelatory for me, and I believe it can be the same for anyone who is willing to take a risk and give it a try.


2 thoughts on “The Decalcification Factor

  1. I appreciate reading your posts… My 26 year old daughter invited me to Burning Man–to experience what she loves. I’m going! I’m looking around for camps to stay in along with how to maneuver that long trek into Burning Man which I hear can be an all night slow drive. Thanks for your writings.

    • Hi Pamela Rose — I was first invited to Burning Man by my 20 year old son, and we had an unforgettable experience together. The trip to Burning Man is not as onerous as you may have heard — depending on your departure point. If you are coming from south of the Burn, you’ll depart I-80 at Fernley. The drive to Gerlach is 70 miles from there, then there are 10 more miles to the entrance to Burning Man. If you travel on a day or at a time of low traffic, the drive will be approximately 2 hours from 80. However, heavy traffic can slow you down. If you want to be there on day one, you can expect heavy traffic and a long wait at the gate. If you delay until, say, Tuesday or Wednesday, traffic will be lighter. Traffic picks up again Thursday thru Saturday as many people come for the final weekend only. Make your plans and set your patience level up accordingly. Driving the two-lane highway is best done during the day, when you can see the beautiful Pyramid Lake, the former lakebed that is now desert, and the unusual rock outcroppings.

      You asked about camps. First of all, there are areas of Burning Man set up for individual campers, who come in tents, RVs and variations thereof. But you may be looking for a camp with a solid infrastructure so you have the support of an experienced group. That’s one of the reasons we chose Lamplighters Village at the outset. Other possibilities are Greeter’s Camp and Center Cafe Camp. All of these are working camps, so you’ll have to commit to a certain number of shifts working. Lamplighters light the city nightly, and you’re expected to participate at least 5 of 7 nights. Some of the jobs are quite physical at Lampighters, but some are less so. A newer camp that you might try is Temple Guardians camp. It is in its second year, so you won’t feel like an “interloper,” (not that you do at any of the camps).

      Good luck, and I hope we see you at the burn.

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