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.