Are You Kidding Me? Yes!

It was around midnight on March 31 when I spotted an article about Burning Man on my Google News feed.  It declared that the 2021 Burn would take place under a huge dome that could house 60,000 people, all of whom would be protected from the outside world and its lethal germs.  This dome was made of a material that the Burning Man org had invented and patented, and which they were prepared to offer free-of-charge to other events because – well, because we’re good guys.

According to the article, “Burning Man’s Chief Science Officer Nicholas Riviera said. ‘Housing the festival inside a dome will ensure no dangerous particles can enter Burning Man and it will mean our family can congregate and celebrate life on this precious earth in peace and harmony, as the founders of the Burn intended.’”

That one made me scratch my head.  I’ve spent some time at Burning Man headquarters in San Francisco and never heard of a Chief Science Officer.  Then the article mentioned “Burning Man’s Head Of Innovation Christine Chapel”, another job and person I had no knowledge of.  By that point, the clock had turned past midnight and my wife reminded me that it was April Fool’s Day and this article was probably an April Fool’s joke.  By the time the article described how the smoke from the Man Burn would go out of the dome and only fresh air would come in, we were laughing out loud.

Burning Man to take place beneath "Truman Show-esque dome"Burning Man will take place beneath a ‘Truman Show-esque dome’ later this year.” — MixMag

Then came the best part.  It seems that Google had secretly become Burning Man’s sponsor in 2019 and would pay for the dome.  I started imagining Google logos all across the Playa, and the elimination of our “no commodification” principle.  Larry Harvey must have been rolling over in his grave.

Anyway, the story seems to have disappeared from the news feed and was clearly a full-on April Fool’s joke, so there’s still no reason to believe that Burning Man 2021 is a certainty.  My understanding at this point is that a decision will be made in May.  Even with that possibility still extant, I’m personally not optimistic about going for reasons I’ve already stated here:  age, underlying medical issues, the inability to hold Burning Man with social distancing in place (will we have to do “air hugs”?).

But I have to keep in mind the great value of Burning Man to people my age, and search for ways to keep such youth-inducing activities in my life.  I don’t want to just shrivel up and grow old simply because there’s no Burning Man to give me a jolt every summer.

As I’ve noted before, there are some things about Burning Man that are specific to infusing my life with that youthful feeling: the diverse and mostly young crowd of people; the abundant creativity blossoming everywhere on the Playa; the erotic environment that helps remind me I’m still a living, vital human; and the constant state of joy among attendees.  All these elements combine to have an effect on my spirit and my body that take years off my chronological age, and echo throughout the rest of the year.  I want those feelings back.  And that’s no joke.



Living Like a Burner When there’s no Burn

I read a report in my Google News Feed the other day breathlessly announcing that the heads of major camps have been told to start the planning process for a 2021 Burn.  The implication was clear:  there’s going to be a Burning Man in 2021.  I’m not so sure.  The source of the Google News report was most likely Burning Man’s Placement Department Newsletter that recently went out to people key to theme camp operations.  The newsletter requested preliminary plans from heads of the bigger camps, including location requests and proposed camp layouts.  It’s certainly a positive sign, but I believe it’s premature to consider it anything more than that.  The Placement Newsletters are SOP, and the requested information is necessary to even the most preliminary planning for the build-out of Black Rock City.  So I’m not ready to whoop it up and start packing yet.  It’s a wait and see for now, at least for me.

Meanwhile, we try to keep the Burning Man spirit alive despite this horrid pandemic when we’re stuck at home with nothing but booze to ease our souls.  We’re pretty involved with Temple Guardians throughout the year and are constantly in communications with members of our team.  In fact, we participate in regular meetings of the Guardian leadership team.  So, if you’re part of a  theme camp, you can volunteer to help throughout the year.  You’ll find yourself welcomed by the camp leaders who always have more work than they can handle.  Apply your personal skill-set to whatever the camp needs and you’ll soon receive buckets of appreciation for your efforts.

It also helps to keep Burning Man’s 10 principles in mind, perhaps by picking out one to concentrate on each month.  For example, Radical Inclusion has particular resonance for me right now as we’re going through another round of hate speech against an ethnic group – in this case, Asians.  I like to make an extra effort to re-direct my natural prejudices toward “the other” into efforts to reach out to those who don’t look or act like me.  By making certain I practice diversity in my life choices, I feel I’m honoring the radical Inclusion principle.


The 2019 Temple

Last year, we hosted two wonderful young ladies from Peru in our Tahoe home where we live and work every winter.  They were serving as TA’s at our ski resort during their summer vacation from college, and they became part of our family for ski season.  Then the pandemic hit and our ski resort was precipitously closed down.  It was no big deal for us.  We just had to pack up our stuff and take it back down the hill to our home near Sacramento.  But for the girls, it was a bit more traumatic.  Just as they were preparing to head back to Peru, that country closed its borders to minimize transmission of the virus.  They couldn’t go home.  Meanwhile, their classes were starting for the fall semester.  So we ended up packing them and us into our car and heading “home” together.  They stayed on for several weeks, taking their classes online (at very odd hours due to the time difference).  Eventually they got a call from the Peruvian embassy and were told a plane had been booked to take them and other ex-pats home via LAX.

Over the months of our hosting these two Peruvians, we grew to love them as if they were family.  We still talk to them every couple of weeks just to catch up.  It’s a joy to include them in our lives, but it still took a leap of faith – one that was at least in part sparked by Burning Man’s principle of Radical Inclusion.

Will We Burn in 21? Should We?

As time has passed since the last Burn, I have felt more and more disconnected from the Playa and the spirit that makes Burning Man so important to my life. I know many of you feel the same, which means a lot of people are eager to see the return to BRC this year. I’m just not sure that can happen yet. And I’m absolutely certain that I’m not ready for a week in the desert with 70 or 80 thousand people while the virus remains active.

I’m now 76 years old, which makes me a prime target for Covid-19. In addition, I’ve recently been diagnosed with early-stage multiple myeloma (a blood cancer) that puts me even more at risk. So there’s almost no way I would feel comfortable attending a full-scale Burning Man even if it does go forward.

But, in truth, I don’t think it will happen this year – at least not in the form we know it. The risk of Burning Man turning into a super spreader event (perhaps the biggest of all time) is high, and such a result would do more than cause sickness and death among attendees and their families; it would irreparably damage the event’s reputation. Burning Man might never recover.

Beauty on the Playa from the 2019 Burn

However, there are some things that the org could do to mitigate the potential for super-spreader results. First, they could mimic many of the states’ rules on attendance at sports events – say, limit the Burn to 25 percent of last year’s number. They could also require any attendee to be verifiably fully vaccinated, and they could test everyone daily. Social distancing rules could be put into effect at seated events and where lines (such as the Center Camp Café) exist. That all sounds painful, costly, and the antithesis of our desert love-fest (how would you handle the Orgy Dome?), but it would be a way to keep the Burning Man culture alive because skipping only one year will cause far less damage than missing two in a row.

I hear rumors from time-to-time about BLM and whether it would even permit Burning Man amidst the pandemic. One positive note I heard was that the BLM budget is sorely missing the money we bring in, so they may be eager to have us back as soon as possible. A smaller Burning Man would provide less revenue to everyone – BLM, the Org, the state of Nevada, and the two counties that gain tax revenues. Reno merchants usually make a ton off of Burners, and I’m sure they’d like a little of that money back. So there are plenty of economic reasons to re-ignite the Burn. But the risk/reward equation still seems out of balance, so my bet is that we’ll have to wait for 2022 to return to the wonders of Black Rock City.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

On another topic, I watched Nomadland the other night on Hulu and felt remarkably close to the Playa. The main character (played by Frances McDormand) lives in Empire, NV at the beginning of the film. She lost her job when the gypsum plant closed and when her husband dies she gets on the road to join other nomads. Her journey begins on what sure looks like NV 447, the road we take from I-80 to Gerlach and on to BRC. Nomadland is a unique and magical film with a few reminders of our desert home.

Preparing for a “No Burn” 2020

I’ve begun to set my expectations for a “no Burning Man” year.  Logic tells me it’s unlikely that in the age of a virulent virus and failing fortunes our love-fest in the desert will take place in 2020.  This reality is just one of the reasons I feel an unsettled sense about life right now, as if the foundation underpinning my 75 years of living has weakened. 

What does it mean to set an expectation for no Burn this year?  First, the good news.  All the hard work required to get ready for our two weeks in the desert may not be needed.  Money that has not already been spent might not need to be spent (it’s expensive just to drive our RV out to Black Rock City).  On the negative side, I won’t experience a joyful week that is always the highlight of my year; I will not camp with mostly younger friends who help make the years slip away from my aging body and mind, and I won’t have that spiritual and creative charge that comes from walking among the art-pieces that dot the canvas that is the Black Rock desert.

I’ll also miss serving as a Temple Guardian where I am privileged to help ensure that visitors experience what they need as they work their way through their grief over lost family and friends.  And I’ll miss that erotic charge that it always part of Burning Man and that helps keep us and our marriage young.

I went to my first Burn dreading the experience because I feared the harsh environment.  Now I miss everything about the desert – the dust, the wind, the daytime heat and the chilly nights.  I used to worry about sunburn, but I’ve never burned out there.  Although I use sunscreen religiously on playa, I’ve come to believe that my body is protected by the layer of dust that quickly forms on my skin.  Playa dust may well be the perfect sunblock formula.

2019 Temple Burn

As we hunker down in our ever-more isolated life, I think about the diversity of people that I’ll miss seeing if Burning Man is canceled.  My relationships at Black Rock City are distinct not only from my immediate family but from my neighbors and co-workers as well.  One of the best aspects of Burning Man is that I meet and get to know a spectrum of people from geographically and emotionally diverse backgrounds.

Can I live without Burning Man?  Of course.  Will my life be lessened without it?  Absolutely.  Let’s hope for a positive outcome for the world’s health this year so Burning Man happens and we’ll all be back together sooner rather than later.

UPDATE:  I attended Burning Man’s Theme Camp Symposium on March 28 and heard the latest information on whether Burning Man will go forward this year.  According to Marian Goodell, CEO of the Burning Man Project, no decision has yet been reached about the 2020 event.  Marian described the situation as “too early” to know whether the virus will still be a threat in late August.  The org is considering a number of possible steps, including delaying the main sale of tickets that is scheduled for April 8, with registration on April 1.  Check for more info, and review this Burning Man Journal entry for a summary of the current situation.

Will There Be a Burning Man in 2020?

It’s hard to know what the Coronavirus situation will be in August of this year when Burning Man is scheduled to commence, but there’s no question in my mind that if today’s situation is unchanged by late summer, then a gathering of 70,000 half-naked, hug-hungry people in the desert of Nevada will not take place.

But there’s way more to consider than just the timing of the Burn itself. DPW and Burning Man staff will begin working in the desert in the next couple of months, and the org will have to decide ahead of this time frame whether to risk people’s health by putting a concentration of workers together in relatively close proximity. Therefore, I would expect to hear a decision from the org very soon.

If you have tickets and are making plans to attend the Burning Man Festival in August, keep doing what you’re doing for now. But stay in touch with the org to get the latest information. Subscribe to the Jack Rabbit Speaks email publication — an excellent and accurate source of news. Also, you can always check in on the Burning website, or the various Facebook sites that cover Burning Man activities. If you are part of a theme camp, check-in with your camp mayor or leader and make certain they are planning to communicate the status of Burning Man as soon as they hear something.

It’s urgent that you rely only on knowledgeable people and reliable sources of information. Rumors and conspiracy theories are the lifeblood of many internet sites, so be cautious about blockbuster news that comes from only a single, lesser-known source. Real news about Burning Man will be big news for all media, so wait until you hear it from one of the sources mentioned above or from the so-called mainstream media.

Meanwhile, we can all do whatever we can to keep ourselves and our family and friends as safe and healthy as possible. Staying well is the best way to know that you can attend Burning Man if it is held this year. Getting sick is to be avoided at all costs. Stay home and take advantage of the robust entertainment sources that we all receive daily. Work on the house, do that project you’ve been thinking about for years, build an art car; but, please, don’t party down with large crowds of people for now.

If we all work together we can get past this pandemic with the least possible impact on our lives. Then we’ll be sure to meet at Burning Man sometime soon — whether this year or next.

Watching the Man Burn

Some five years ago, we were fortunate enough to help carry in the fire that starts the Man Burn, and it was an awesome experience.  We were as close to the burn as we’ve ever been, and since then we’ve put more distance between ourselves and the fire and taken a leisurely approach to the big event.  This year we sat on top of our camp container, with drinks and snacks, where we had an awesome view of the Burn and no need to locate our bikes among the mass of blinking lights.

We soaked in the image of thousands of festively lighted bikes and walkers streaming out of the city and toward the Man; observed the vista of lights across the Playa – all powered by generators and batteries; and waited for the Man’s arms to rise marking the beginning of the burn celebration.

Hippie Bus Redux

It was an awesome sight, humbling us before human creativity and endurance that makes Burning Man such an important event in our lives.  It is nearly impossible to capture the scope of it all in words or pictures.  You have to be there to truly experience it.

Last night’s Burn was one of the quickest we’ve seen, probably because of the five propane bombs used to kick-start the fire versus the usual two or three.  It’s possible that the Burning Man org was purposefully shortening the burn cycle to lessen the possibility of crazies running into the fire.  Last year, an individual avoided all perimeter patrols and ended up losing his life after he launched himself into the flames.  No such event this time around.

The shorter burn cycle seemed to make the entire evening more mellow and less raucous (although in fairness the raucousness is way closer to the burn then we were) and perhaps a little anti-climactic.  Everything this year was a bit less than expected, although still amazing and inspiring.  One of the top art pieces – a flaming, winged horse near the entrance to Center Camp – worked only intermittently.  Several major art pieces weren’t ready until the final couple of days.  And no single piece had the impact of some of Burning Man’s greatest hits, e.g. last year’s tree of lights or kaleidoscope of LED lights that shifted shape and color in time to classical music; however, the multi-hued elephant out in deep playa was a major attraction.

Sculpture on the Playa

Also, there was a magnificent structure far out in deep playa called The Folly, a two-tower building with a windmill on one of the spires that featured a top-notch musical theater performance.  The building burned with great intensity on Friday night.

However, this was definitely the year of the art car at Burning Man.  There seemed to be more and a greater variety than ever roaming the Playa.  But it was an oldie that seemed to draw the biggest crowds, “El Pulpo Mechanico” – a many-headed octopus that shot fire from its arms and head and whose eyes sprung out of its sockets at onlookers.  El Pulpo played music that seemed to be composed just for it and spit out its fire to the beat.  What a sight!

Space Vehicle? Not Sure

As Temple Guardians, we always keep a special place in our heart for the Temple.  This year’s edition was both simple and beautiful, using a Japanese theme found in many Buddhist and Shinto shrines.  Its atmosphere was calming and provided the perfect environment for introspection and contemplation of lives lost and found.  It burns tonight.

Five Big Concerns and Ways to Resolve Them

Art Car Magic at Burning Man

Here are the major concerns for older people about Burning Man, and what to do about them:

1. The heat. Yeah, it can be hot out on the Playa, but it is – after all – a dry heat! In fact, the extremely low humidity (usually single digits) is actually a problem in itself. We try to take care of ourselves in several ways. First, we try to go out only mornings and nights. Mid-day is rest time when we stay inside our air-conditioned RV. Also, we never go anywhere without adequate water or other thirst-quenchers (such as Gatorade).

2. The dust. Some days are worse than others, and some people are more sensitive than others. Successfully negotiating the dusty landscape requires goggles and a dust mask. These are not items to scrimp on so buy goggles and face masks that are both effective and comfortable. Getting them on and off easily is important as well. It’s fine to shop online, but be sure that returning items is easy because you need to try them out before making a final decision.

3. Transportation. The main mode of transport is biking, but you don’t want to bring your $4,000 elite mountain bike. The dust is killer on gears and other delicate bike parts. If you can afford a fat-tire bike, you’ll do better on the variable Playa surface. But stick to basic bikes, or even old bikes that you can pick up at flea markets or on Craigslist. If powering a bike manually is a problem for you, then consider a bike with a supplemental electric motor. Another option is a Segway (expensive, but you may be able to rent one). If you’re planning to bike, make sure you’re in shape to do so. Get some miles in on a bike as time for the Burn approaches.

4. Porta-potties. Yes, you’re going to have to use them here at Burning Man. And, yes, they can look and smell disgusting. But there’s this: there are thousands of these “portos”– as some people call them – placed strategically across the Playa. They are cleaned twice a day by the contractors in charge of them. Additionally, certain theme camps have “private” portos that tend to be cleaner. Check with your theme camp (if you’re staying in one, which I recommend) to find out whether they have their own portos.

5. Showers. Most of the major theme camps have rudimentary showers, but you need to supply your own water and privacy is minimal. Wet wipes are a must for between shower clean up and many other uses. Bring plenty.

The single best answer to all of these challenges for older Burners is an RV. You can have at least some air conditioning, your own bathroom and shower facilities and a place to ride out some of those legendary dust storms with their white out conditions. But you’ll need to bring a well-equipped RV with a top-notch generator that can be run for long periods of time and is well-protected from dust (which can destroy a generator in a couple of days). You can’t run the air conditioner without a generator, so it’s critically important. You’ll also need an RV with large fresh water, and black and grey water storage so you can make it through the entire Burn without the need to dump tanks or re-fill your fresh water. It’s possible to have your tanks pumped out by the suppliers who clean the potties, but there’s no way to get fresh water delivered. Also, it costs around $85 dollars to have your tanks pumped out, vs. around $10 to do it at a dump site in off-playa.

Make sure you carry enough extra fresh water to re-fill your tank, if necessary, and that you have the right kind of equipment (funnels, pumps, etc.) to do so without spilling tons of water on the Playa. Even fresh water can become a problem when so much is spilled in one place that it creates a hole in the Playa surface.

There are other comfortable ways to live at Burning Man such as Shift Pods and other innovative living units that stay cooler than a tent. Some can even be air-conditioned with the help of a generator.

If it all sounds like too much trouble, then maybe it is for you. But you have to balance your level of difficulty with the value of experiencing Burning Man. It’s well worth the trade-offs for us.

Playa’s the Place to Celebrate

I celebrated my 615th birthday here the other day. Well, it was actually my 75th but Lashes couldn’t find a “7” to go on the cake so she put a 6 and a 1 instead. It was a surprise to see two cakes come out of our RV because they were so well hidden – NOT. I just completely missed the fact that there were two cakes in our fridge, in plain sight. But Lashes knows how easy I am to fool.

She, on the other hand, was un-trickable until her own 75th birthday late last year when I pulled off a surprise party that was exactly that: a surprise. I was probably more delighted with myself than she was with the party. The heavy lifting was done by my kids and their spouses, so I really can’t take credit.

Nonetheless, it reminded me of the multiple celebrations we’ve had out here on the Playa over our 12 years as Burners. In 2006, we renewed our wedding vows for our 40th anniversary in a ceremony we’ll never forget at the Hotel International Ashram Galactica. Our youngest walked his mom down the aisle. The Ashram people actually gave us a honeymoon suite to sleep in, and fed us a gourmet dinner cooked by a celebrity chef from L.A. Six years ago, we held a “Lashes 7.0” party at Lamplighters Village for her 70th birthday. 2017 marked another vow renewal for our 50th anniversary, with our older son Carousel performing the ceremony. We returned the favor the following year as I married Carousel and Unisee in a Unicorn Wedding at dawn in front of the Temple (covered in an earlier Sunrise Burner).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Bugs-in-Love-copy.jpg

Bugs in Love on Playa

The great part of celebrating milestones at Burning Man is that everybody within sight and sound of the event joins in for what might be called “Kumbaya moments.” It’s so great to feel the hugs of strangers out here in the desert. There’s no stand-offishness about human-to-human contact. There’s simply joy.

If you find that thought a little Pollyanish, I can assure you that it’s not my nature to be this way. For years, I tended to shy away from people, avoiding touching them at all cost. The Playa has turned me into a major-league hugger who’s looking for new people to meet so I can bring their experiences into my life.

Serving our Temple Guardian shifts we are often approached by people with questions, which then flow into conversations about who they are and what they’re mourning, grieving, or celebrating at the Temple. As a result, we’ve absorbed others’ stories about lost dads and moms and the regrets people have about the absence of intimacy or the rejection of parents that is often part of adolescent rebellion. Burners use the Temple to put a balm on those wounds. They don’t heal completely, but they become tolerable once they’ve been acknowledged.

At the Sunday night Temple burn, the crowd watches in near silence as the wishes and memorials left there go up in smoke – releasing much of that painful baggage. It’s a moment of clarity for many Burners.

On a practical note, how do people our age survive the Burn? We do it by living in an RV that is air-conditioned and has available power through our generator. Without the AC, it would be difficult to take our mid-day naps that allow us to keep going late into the night. We’re also careful to pack adequate numbers of our meds and supplements so we won’t run out during the Burn. Planning is crucial, especially for us older people. You’re going to be on your own to a great extent out here, so you need to think through every day and bring what you need. There are no pharmacies, convenience stores, or Wal-Marts on the Playa.

We’re Not Too Old for Burning Man; And Neither are You

Why would two retired 75-year-olds with a comfortable home and children and grandchildren to spoil hit the road in late summer to spend two weeks in the desert for the Burning Man Festival? Let me count the reasons:

1. It makes us feel young. It’s not just about being with young people (although our camp is filled with what we call “kids”), it’s also about stretching your mind and your body and getting those brain synapses firing again. Burning Man is an adventure in non-comfort-zone living in a harsh desert environment, and having fun doing it. That’s why we’ve gone 12 times since 2005 and plan to keep going until we can’t do so physically.

2. The creativity inspires us. We see art installations and art cars on the Playa that are unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere. There are monuments to the spiritual (the Temple), inventive ways to show the power of fire (the Fire Tornado), and astounding travelling artistic statements such as the Porcupine mutant vehicle. The desert surface is the artists’ canvas at Burning Man, and that space provides artistic opportunities unlike any art gallery or museum. We come back motivated by the infinite power of the human mind and with the desire to do more with our own lives – and that means staying active and engaged.

Playa Butterflies

3. The whimsy makes us laugh. We love that Burning Man never takes itself too seriously. There’s a wink behind every artificial palm tree, and a smile hidden in even the most assiduously constructed art pieces. Whenever we begin to make too much of day-to-day life, we only have to think about Burning Man to take it down a notch.

4. The people teach us about life. We’ve learned to look beyond outward appearances and dress (or, in some cases, the lack thereof) to find the connections we never knew existed between us and people who simply don’t look like us. It’s added a deep appreciation of diversity and a powerful desire to bring new, often exotic people into our lives.

5. Eroticism is our fountain of youth. Burning Man is not as sexually outrageous as some people believe, but there’s plenty of erotic reminders out there. A bit of nudity, a touch of provocative dress (by women and men), a multitude of camps and sites devoted to sex from an intellectual or practical perspective; the Playa exudes eroticism and the life-force that it represents. For us, as a couple married for nearly 53 years, it’s a constant reminder that sex remains valuable in human relationships, including our marriage. In fact, everything about our marriage has gotten better since we started going to Burning Man.

6. The desert gives us courage. On my first trip to Burning Man, I thought I would die out there in the heat, the blistering sun, and the dust. But instead of diminishing me, the desert raised me up to a higher level of confidence in surviving and thriving in an environment that I had feared. I’m not a daredevil because of Burning Man, but I did decide to start teaching skiing last season at age 74. And while I still worry about “losing a step” as I age, I realize that my experience – including Burning Man – can easily make up for lost horsepower.

We’re deeply involved in our Burning Man community, having taken on the responsibility of running a camp each year as well as participating in numerous off-Playa activities and meetings, including those at Burning Man Headquarters in San Francisco. The more you do for Burning Man, the more it does for you.


With the announcement of “Metamorphoses” as next year’s theme, a vision of Burning Man 2019 begins to emerge from the dusty remains of BRC.  The theme was unveiled in the Burning Man Journal and while I find the idea fascinating and filled with possibilities, it’s nonetheless reminiscent of two earlier themes – Evolution and Rites of Passage — both of which featured imagery consistent with nascent butterflies and historical alterations in the natural world.

The introduction of next year’s theme may not seem like a big deal, but in fact, it affects the Burner community like a giant starter’s gun, alerting everyone that it’s time to begin working on the upcoming Burn.  Many of the major art projects for Burning Man are based on the theme; art cars are built that represent it, and events are planned by various camp reflecting their interpretation of the word.  Hence, unveiling the theme is the true beginning of Burning Man 2019.

For us, it’s a definitive starting point for the planning process and turns “thinking about” Burning Man into an action plan.  What are we going to do at our camp next year?  Are we going to design a new flag?  How are we going to assign out the different jobs?  What costumes would we like to bring?  What did we forget last year that we need to add to our packing list?

In my time at Burning Man, the theme has sometimes been revealed earlier and sometimes later than this one.  When I first came, next year’s theme was announced at the end of the current Burn.  Then it wasn’t and we had to wait for Larry Harvey to decide.  Or, at least, that’s what most of us thought was happening.  It’s part of the lore of Burning Man that Larry chose each year’s theme himself and he did it when the spirit moved him.  That may or may not be true, but much of Burning Man mythology revolves around Larry.

I was actually surprised at how early the new theme was revealed.  Perhaps now that Larry has passed away the team leading Burning Man decided to act more quickly, thus providing additional prep time.  Or maybe not.  Maybe this theme was already in the hopper and ready to go, which means Larry’s spirit continues to guide us.

Here’s the thing.  If the Metamorphoses theme inspires you, then take advantage of that inspiration and do something with it.  Perhaps it speaks to you so strongly that you will decide to make this your first Burn, or return after a long absence.  Perhaps it will inspire you to create art for the 2019 Burn.  After all, metamorphoses is one of the most image-eliciting words in the English languages.  It always makes me think about the caterpillar-to-butterfly miracle and the personal change in my life because of Burning Man.

Whatever the effect of seeing the new theme is on others, it impacts me in a very particular way by re-igniting my passion for Burning Man and letting me know that the on-ramp to Black Rock City has re-opened.