Have you ever taken a look at Burning Man’s 10 Principles? To a great extent, they provide a quick synopsis of the Burning Man ethos and what you can expect when you’re on the playa.
The principles are not an orthodoxy that everyone observes in a rigid manner. They aren’t even guidelines for behavior. They are simply an idealized vision of the world that Burning Man seeks to create each year.
The principle that has had the greatest impact on me personally is “radical inclusion,” which is nothing more than the idea that all are welcome at Burning Man. Radical inclusion has helped me become a less judgmental person – especially when it comes to people’s appearances. I spent much of my life hanging around with corporate types and others who fit into my general style of living. There were few people with tattoos, ragged clothing or scraggly hair. At Burning Man, I found myself living, working and playing beside people who didn’t fit into the corporate norm, and it took awhile for me to stop judging such people negatively or even avoiding them because I felt we had nothing in common.
Eventually I let down my barriers and began reaching out to people who looked and acted differently from me. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my Burning Man journey to discover the goodness that lies under outward appearances – even those that are the antipathy of your personal choices. Radical inclusion has changed my entire outlook on people and opened doors to a much broader perspective. It’s in my mind every day of my life because I constantly run into people who I might have previously rejected out of hand.
It may seem callous that I was such a snob in the past, but that was my reality until Burning Man. And the change is one of the reasons I believe Burning Man has been so good for me as an older adult. Late in life, I was able to expand my comfort zone and enlarge my community of interest to include people who think and act differently from me. These changes have enhanced my life, opened my mind to new thoughts, and helped to keep me feeling young and vibrant.
The 10 Principles are not gospel, but they do provide a taste of the Burning Man environment and the ideas that drive the festival. Check them out before you head for the Playa.