The Decalcification Factor

At this stage of our lives (a very late stage for those of you who haven’t met us yet), we’ve grown concerned about many issues that can be categorized under the heading “health.” And one of those issues that concerns us the most is the resilience of our brains. We fear becoming calcified old people in our thinking far more than we fear the aches and pains that come along with an aging body. It’s the decalcification factor that’s one of the main reasons we continue to go to Burning Man at the end of each summer, and that we plan to keep it up for as long as we can.

Letting go at Burning Man: a real change of pace for me

Letting go at Burning Man: a real change of pace for me

Each year as we depart Burning Man, we feel anything but old. In fact, we feel far younger than we recall feeling 20 years ago. To us, Burning Man is better than all of those “brain games” combined to keep minds flexible, youthful and active. When you’ve spent a week looking at incredible art; when you’ve hung out with people less than half your age who nonetheless made you feel like you belonged; and when you’ve laughed your way through dust storms and high desert temperatures — the rest of life seems so much more inviting.

What I’ve learned at Burning Man is that I can love and enjoy people who are so different from me that I might never have come in contact with them in the default world; that I’m capable of throwing judgmental thinking out the window; and that I can still be thrilled by something unexpected. Burning Man is the exact opposite of “settling down,” something we did a long time ago but badly need to escape at least once a year.

In other words, I’ve learned that I’m still alive and there’s no reason to worry about the alternative. As a couple, we’ve learned to enjoy the richness of our married life again. Part of it is the sex – which infuses the atmosphere of Burning Man. But it’s more than re-learning to appreciate the physical love we share, it’s also gaining a greater appreciation for our creative souls and the pleasure that artistry, whimsy and just plain fun brings to our lives.

We might never have realized that we were slowly, steadily giving up these aspects of our existence if we had not gone to Burning Man, rekindled our youthfulness and decalcified our minds. I’m personally not an individual who finds it easy to let go, so the experience of a week of nothing but letting go has been revelatory for me, and I believe it can be the same for anyone who is willing to take a risk and give it a try.


Reach Out and Hug Somebody

Greetings among strangers involving hugs may seem like insincere contrivances in daily life, but at Burning Man the hug is the greeting of choice.  And it’s not the least bit phony, because love is in the air at Burning Man and the hug is the most evident symbol of it.

It may take some getting use to at first; after all, touching and even minimizing personal space are not “normal” for most people.  But at Burning Man, hugs are the coin-of-the-realm.  There are even camps devoted to giving hugs, and plenty of guys and gals walking around with “hug me” signs.

If you’re put off by the phony nature of social hugs in the default world, you might tend to think of Burning Man hugs in the same way – just a rote greeting with no particular meaning attached.  But in Black Rock City, the hug is a sincere form of greeting that is meant to express the true closeness that Burners feel toward each other.

In my first year at Burning Man (at age 60), I was almost overwhelmed by he outpouring of love and affection from my fellow Burners.  We went home floating on a cloud of delightful feelings that stayed with us for months.  That’s the way it’s been every year, and we have become avid huggers at every Burning Man.  I’d urge you to do the same, or, at the very least, accept the hugs for the sincere expression of love and welcoming in which they’re offered.

Lashes gets her first hug from a stranger in her virgin year.

Lashes gets her first hug from a stranger in her virgin year.


So if you’re a virgin Burner, open yourself up to the idea that hugging is a treasured form of communications and is meant to express genuine feelings of one human toward another.  That can be a difficult concept to accept – especially for us older types who reserve physical expressions of intimacy for family and close friends only.  But Burning Man’s entire population is a family, and while it may exist for one week only each year, it can be just as real for that week as decades old relationships are outside of the BRC gates.

On another topic, if you still don’t have tickets for Burning Man 2014, don’t be dismayed – at least, not yet.  Plenty of tickets become readily available as the date of the event approaches.  I’m not talking about “scalped” tickets, but those offered at face value.  Check Craigslist – especially in communities geographically close to BRC such as Reno, San Francisco and other Bay Area communities, and Sacramento.  Be ready to pay cash, but be wary of counterfeiters.  Ask for the official receipt from Burning Man that comes with every ticket (or set of tickets).  And keep in mind that you’ll need a $40 parking pass this year for each vehicle in addition to tickets for each member of your group.  Don’t be in a rush to buy tickets currently being offered.  Tickets have not yet been distributed; so buying one from someone else right now on the basis of future delivery is particularly risky.