My last post clearly resonated with people (and hit a nerve with some). I’m happy that so many people visited the site over the past few days and I was thrilled with the dialog (much of which was on Reddit).
I’m a committed Burner, and have been since 2005. In fact, there are stories in this site’s archives (which goes back at least as far as 2007) about my first Burn, when I was dragged out to the Playa by my son who was 20 that year while I was turning 60. I would never have gone on my own and I was prepared to hate every minute of it; but the instant I walked through the gate and rang the virgin bell, I knew I was home.
When I returned from that first Burn I felt 20 years younger, and I couldn’t wait to tell other people my age about the Fountain of Youth I had discovered in the Black Rock Desert. I’m an enthusiast, and even something of an evangelist for the powers of Burning Man – especially for people 50 and over. I’ve even met people on Playa who came as a direct result of reading this blog.
Hence, I wouldn’t want anyone to take my last blog as a criticism of Burning Man or anything other than my own personal experience, and the viewpoint I’ve arrived at from those experiences. Burning Man could not exist without the commitment of dedicated volunteers. When I see what DPW accomplishes every year in constructing and then deconstructing BRC, I’m blown away. These are extremely competent individuals who give up a significant part of their year to turn the blank slate of the Black Rock Desert into a city of 70 to 80,000 people. I’m proud to be a tiny part of that effort; to participate with my team and campmates and to push myself to do whatever it takes to ensure a successful Burn.
I just believe in honoring all the work done by Burners, even if it’s in the name of fun vs. something more “serious” such as Rangering, Lamplighting, or spending time helping people get what they need out of the Temple. Burning Man wouldn’t be the same without the discos, the bars, the camps that provide free grilled cheese or slushies, and most especially the camp that provides Bluegrass music. No one’s work is more important than another’s, and many Burners put in a ton of effort before and during Burn week. I only become uncomfortable when people start laying judgment on others around being a more important part of BRC, or a harder working piece of the Burn. There’s one “hardest working man in rock and roll” (it’s James Brown, by the way), but there isn’t a “hardest working team at Burning Man.”
If someone’s all caught up in their own thing, that’s fine. Just don’t drag me into it. I’m fully committed to the work I do, and to opening the world up to Burning Man’s principles. But it’s not a winner-loser proposition. Somebody doesn’t have to fail for me to succeed, and as competitive as I may be in sports and other areas, I genuinely believe the pie only gets bigger when we all do the right things for each other. When I’m involved with Burning Man, I’m there all the way. Otherwise, I’m doing the rest of the stuff my life demands.