Back to the Future: On Playa Again

I’m coming home. After a three-year absence (including Covid), I’ll be returning to the Playa for Burning Man 2023. It’s a source of great joy and excitement to know that in only a few months I’ll be surrounded by all the excitement, the art, the eroticism, and the dust that makes Burning Man what it is: a uniquely American experience that embraces the entire world.

My wife and I are coming dangerously close to our 80s, which reminds me of our first couple of Burns. In 2006, when we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary on Playa, we met a group of “older” people who called themselves the Wisdom Camp. We thought we were ancient until we discovered this group of Burners who still had the fire within them. As the years passed, many of these folks disappeared from Burning Man. We worried about them but considered the possibility that they had simply stopped coming because of age and the stress of preparing for and attending the Burn.

Now, we are those people. While we’re far from the longest-attending Burners, we’re certainly among the oldest. And though we don’t claim to have the market cornered on wisdom, we can claim experience. The good news is that we still expect to be surprised by what we see at Burning Man 2023, and to come away feeling younger than our years.

That’s the heart and soul of this blog – to remind ourselves and others who are no longer chronologically young that Burning Man is a Fountain of Youth. It’s hard to come away not feeling younger – and for sure you won’t feel older from the experience.

That doesn’t mean we’ll be pretending that we’re twenty or thirty years younger than we are. We can’t operate on the clock of a 40-year-old with a 78-year-old body; we need more rest, and we build that into our experience. We’ve always stayed in our air-conditioned RV during the hottest part of the day, and that strategy will remain in place.

But we actually plan to see more of Burning Man this year. Our camp responsibilities are somewhat lessened now, so we’ll actually have more time to roam around, enjoy the art, meet more people, laugh at the displays of whimsy and joy, and eat and drink more of the gifted offerings. Staying out of the hot part of the day gives us more time and energy to enjoy the fiery night scenes, which have always been our favorites. We love the do-it-yourself artworks that allow some control over the effects. And we’ll take advantage of those Zen moments sitting under lighted art installations programmed to music.

Speaking of music, we’ll be searching out as many performances as we can fit into the schedule – especially by groups like the ad hoc symphony orchestra and the marching bands. We may even dance at one of the discos.  And if we tucker out, there’s always the center camp stage with its cushioned seating.

What we’re looking forward to the most is the renewal we experience at every Burning Man. Feeling younger makes us younger, and the infusion of that youthful spirit into our lives is something we’re eager to embrace once again. See you on Playa.