Four Reasons Burning Man Makes Us Feel Young

The 2018 Burn is behind us, but still fresh in our memories.  It was one of our best Burns ever:  good weather (for Black Rock City), a happy group of campers, more than our usual number of showers, an abundance of good food (we both actually gained a little weight), and an array of art beyond anything we have previously experienced.  Best of all, we celebrated the wedding of our son and new daughter at the Temple – a great moment for them and us.

The last piece of our campsite was this box of recyclable cardboard. The rest has faded into the Playa

Although we were eager to get home to friends, family, and dogs (we really missed those guys), we spent much of our drive from the desert to our home in Northern California planning for next year’s event.  After 11 Burns over the past 13 years, the magic and mystery of Black Rock City is rooted in our systems and an important aspect of our lives.  It’s why I have written and published Sunrise Burners for years.  We believe Burning Man has had a positive impact on our lives and our marriage, and we want other people who are 50 and older to enjoy those benefits as well.

The over-arching reason we keep returning to Burning Man is that it makes us feel younger.  We always come back energized, refreshed, and excited about life.  That’s a good thing for people who are approaching their mid-70s, and, we believe, would be similarly good for anyone with a few miles on them.  Younger attendees may see Burning Man as a gigantic party, but it’s so much more than that to mature people.  I’ll list what I view as the underlying reasons that we seem to grow younger after each Burn.

  1. We meet and get to know hundreds of people at Burning Man who are well outside of the norms of the rest of our lives.   I spent more than 30 years as a corporate executive and saw nary a tattoo or shaved head in the boardroom.  We all dressed alike, spoke alike, and competed for our piece of the pie.  At Burning Man, I meet people who would never pass muster in the look-alike world of big business and who aren’t interested in how much I earn or what toys I own.  So, getting to know individuals who look and act un-corporate forces me out of my comfort zone and into a broader world.  Because of Burning Man, I have learned to love and embrace people who I might otherwise have seen as anathema to my way of life.
  2. The creative intensity of Burning Man is both inspiring and stimulating.  It makes me want to grow creatively rather than sit back and retire from innovative thinking.  Burning Man reminds me that while I’m retired, I’m still alive and still capable of contributing to the world.
  3. Burning Man is hilarious.  The people, the art, even the way people cope with the harsh desert environment are full of whimsy and wonder.  Every time I see an art car that skewers life and the human condition, I feel joyful to be in the presence of people who refuse to take themselves and their lives too seriously.
  4. There’s always an undertone of Eros at Burning Man.  In my early years, I remember that each day was named for a sex act.  While that’s not done anymore, Burning Man’s embrace of sexuality is a constant presence.  From partial to full nudity to the many sexually-oriented camps and events, Burning Man deals more openly with our sexual selves than anyplace else in the world.  I believe that eroticism is a life force, especially important for older people.  Going to Burning Man has enhanced our intimacy in astounding ways.  We don’t do swaps, orgies, public sex, or anything of the sort.  But Burning Man has helped us keep our sex life vibrant.  Not bad for a couple in their 52nd year of marriage.

All of these factors combine to – essentially – subtract years from our metaphysical age each time we attend.  Will it do the same for you?  I can’t guarantee that.  But what’s the harm in finding out?  See you at the next Burn.