It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m vegging out in front of the TV watching college football. It’s not easy to resist this and similar diversions – especially when all you have to do is reach for a remote control to do so. In fact, it seems as if I couldn’t live without TV to entertain me. But I do live without it in the desert. And, unlike my sense of urgency to catch the shows and games that I’ve declared to be important to me, I suffer no pangs of withdrawal at Burning Man. I’m otherwise engaged.
One of the healthiest aspects of Burning Man is that I get to live without mind-numbing escapism for a week or more. It’s not like there’s nothing fun to do out there; there’s an entire book full of activities (see my earlier post on the What, When, Where Guide). But none of it can be done with the press of a button while in resting mode on the couch. You have to find out what’s going on, get your ass up to walk or bike there, and usually participate to get the most out of it. Once in the habit of doing so, you begin to wonder the exact opposite of what you thought sitting in front of the TV: who would ever want to go back to being a couch potato?
That’s one of the things that makes it hard to decompress from a week living within Burning Man’s Ten Principles. What was enticing at home seems not simply boring, but a complete waste of time compared to the surfeit of fascinating hour-by-hour choices in Black Rock City. And most of it is off the charts different from what’s available to you in the day-to-day (aka default) world.
I’m already sucked back in to couch potato heaven (especially during football/basketball/baseball/hockey season), but I miss the adventures I experience at Burning Man. One of the best ways to get out of this rut is to engage with activities that re-ignite my passion for all things BRC – such as Decompressions and working on next year’s Burn. Also, I’m considering putting together my own slideshow about Burning Man to share with friends and neighbors who might not understand why I go.
My wife stays occupied year-round with the event because of her role as our camp’s mayor. I do what I can to support her in this work, such as helping her edit or craft communications to our campers. I’m also part of the Temple Guardians communications team, so I remain in touch with this aspect of my Burning Man experience year-round. Staying active preparing for next year keeps Burning Man alive in my mind, constantly reminding me that while I may be old, I still have a lot to look forward to. That fact alone makes me feel good – and younger.
Of course, there’s also this blog. Even though I’ve posted only intermittently over the past year (with the exception of my almost daily posts from BRC), I’m now determined to keep Sunrise Burners active throughout the year. That requires me to think of new topics, and write regularly – something else that keeps me feeling vital. Overall, then, Burning Man activities appear to be far better for my mental well-being than watching sports (or anything else) on television. I’m determined to keep in mind how good life can be even if I don’t have access creature comforts and diversionary tactics. I’m at my best without them … in the desert.