I talk frequently with people around my age (I’m approaching 70 at a rather alarming rate) about going to Burning Man, and they often say things like “I have always intended to go, and maybe this year will be the year.” But it’s rare that any of those people actually make the trek to the Playa in late August. To me, that’s kind of like saying how sorry you were that you never made it to Woodstock back in 1969.
The Burning Man Festival is a unique event, and even though it’s not a one-time occurrence such as Woodstock, it is equally iconic. Because it’s repeated yearly, there are annual opportunities to make up for lost time by choosing to go to Burning Man.
Burning Man’s nature as a continuing and evolving event means that each year provides its own set of individual experiences; but you only have to go once to “get” it. There’s no need to commit to being a “Burner for Life” as one of our gifted scarves says. You don’t even have to go for the entire seven days (although I highly recommend it). A substantial percentage of attendees are newbies who arrive for just the final three or four days and may not return for years, if at all. However you choose to go – in common parlance — “it’s all good.”
But there’s no other way to experience what I like to call “the world turned on its head” for one full week in the desert; to come face-to-face with a level of diversity that you’re unlikely to find in your everyday life; and to let go of society’s preconceptions about race, gender and sexuality, except by going.
Will you be changed forever by attending? Possibly. Probably. But you won’t be changed in the least by saying you want to go without following through.
So call it a bucket list item, something needed to complete your set of human experiences, or an opportunity you simply don’t want to miss. Or consider it a way to make up for skipping Woodstock, or another big event you regret missing. On the other hand, if you went to Woodstock or one of its lesser offspring and are seeking a repeat performance (albeit a different kind of encounter), then Burning Man is a festival you won’t want to skip.
So just take yourself seriously about your desire to go to Burning Man. Tickets will be on sale soon (see my last post). Calendar in the date; register to buy your tickets; and I’ll see you on the Playa.