I’m approaching my 70th birthday (this month), so I wondered as we sped toward Burning Man on that very long stretch of two-lane highway just beyond Reno whether I’d still find Playa magic with one more year under my belt. I’ll admit that I was a bit more tired this year, but Burning Man worked its wonders on me once again, and I’ve returned to the default world a younger 70 year old than the 69 year old who departed just a few weeks ago.
The reasons remain the same – the art, the whimsy, the radical (albeit temporary) change in my life were all present, and all fresh yet again. I know it always embarrasses my wife when I say this, but there was the sex as well. As I’ve written before, eroticism is a life-force that infuses Burning Man, and it’s a wonderful tonic for people our age.
I don’t go to Burning Man for hook-ups, kinky sex or infidelity of any sort (many do, which is fine with me). But I do find that our marriage of 47 years suddenly becomes physically exciting again at Burning Man. There’s a generally libidinous attitude there – for both males and females. Sexuality is openly recognized as an important part of life whereas in the default world we tend to hide it under a cloud of shame. I’m happy to know that we still have a vibrant sex life as a couple, which is inevitably reinforced by Burning Man’s erotic environment.
This year was particularly exciting for us because we were honored by being part of the processional carrying the flame into the inner circle for the Man burn. We also took voluntary shifts for Man Watch, Temple Guardians and Greeters this year, in addition to our responsibilities to Lamplighters. So it was a particularly busy year for us on Playa. We both agreed on our trip home that we had probably taken on a bit too much this year, and we’re struggling as we try to recover from the overwhelming sense of fatigue and letdown that inevitably follows the Burn.
Emptying out and cleaning up the RV feels like the world’s toughest challenge, and re-adjusting to regular meals and showers throws our bodies out of the synch we had established on Playa; but all of these issues are temporary and, day-by-day, we’re returning to “normal.” In a real way, that’s a shame. It would be grand to hold onto the Playa magic just a little longer. But preserving it for our annual trip to Burning Man makes that magic special, so I’m glad we do end up easing our way back into normal life within a short time.
I’ve always felt that my decision to go to Burning Man is one that I need to consider each year. There will eventually come a time when the effort to prepare will seem onerous or our interest will flag. But I don’t think we’re there yet. I’m still looking forward to Playa Magic next year.