Why Go to Burning Man at My Age?

As we get closer to the Burn, I thought it would be a good idea to reiterate some of the benefits of attending for people 50 and over.  These are, of course, subjective views, but they’ve survived the test of time and seem pretty solid as they affect my life.

The first of these is a lesson I learned as a Virgin Burner – going to Burning Man makes you feel younger.  When I came back from my first Burn I felt like I had shed at least 10 years off my age.  I not only felt younger, but I also felt sharper and more alive.

Second, I felt happier, more optimistic and less constrained by my life.  Burning Man had opened new doors for me, including a receptivity to all kinds of people whom I might have ignored or rejected in the past.  I took the “radical inclusion” policy to heart and found plenty of room in my life for everyone I met.

Third, I began to see and appreciate the whimsy of Burning Man in all aspects of life.  There was fun all around me that I hadn’t even noticed before – not just on the Playa, but back home as well.

Sex: it's all around you at Burning Man

Fourth, I felt sexier – more erotically attuned to my wife and myself.  Burning Man is like a honeymoon for us every year, and the effect lasts far beyond the playa.  That’s because there’s an undeniably erotic atmosphere that surrounds Burning Man.  Sex is out front and positive at Burning Man, as opposed to buried deep within our psyches and under society’s shadows in the default world.

Fifth, I felt creative.  Observing all the creative works (not to mention the creatively attired people), gives me a new sense of creative possibilities for myself and the world I inhabit.  I come back inspired to add more creativity to the world and my life.

All in all, Burning Man turns out to be my own private Fountain of Youth (despite the lack of water), and I think it will be the same for anyone in our age group who has even the inkling of an adventurous spirit.

Enjoy your time on the Playa and see how much younger you grow.

Preparing Yourself for the Playa

Life on the playa is different from life at home.  You spend more time walking and biking and much, much less time sitting around.  There’s no TV to watch (unless you bring a satellite hookup – but why would you do that?), and there’s a lot of distance between sites.

It’s especially important for those of us a aged 50, 60 or older to be prepared for a more physical week then you might normally spend.  Of course, this article will not be relevant if you’re already a tri-athlete or riding 50 miles a day on your bike.  But for most of us, getting ready is a good idea.

I like to start with more biking or at least riding a stationary bike – every day if possible.  You can easily ride 10 or more miles a day while on the playa, so don’t skimp on your preparations.  Take a walk or two everyday, and go for some distance.  I personally expand my dog walking distance prior to Burning Man (and because I have four dogs, I take them in two waves giving me extra walking time).

Chillin' at Center Camp: a way to relax, conserve energy and still enjoy the burn.

While you’re outside, let yourself get adjusted to warmth and bright sunshine.  Don’t forget sunscreen, a hat and plenty of water.  It’s good to get in the habit of staying hydrated so you won’t forget to do so during the Burn.  Dehydration is one of the top medical problems people encounter at Black Rock City.  Don’t let it happen to you.

Work on staying limber as well.  You can never tell when you might get challenged to a fight a Thunderdome and need all your flexibility and more.

Some things you simply can’t prepare for, like dust storms (you could have a friend, spouse, etc. throw sand in your face and test your goggles and face mask that way, but I don’t recommend it).  You could also get in practice for the porta potties by stopping frequently to use gas station rest rooms, but, again, this is an optional exercise.  There may actually be nothing you can do to prepare for the Burn’s (usually) well-managed system of porta-potties.

In case you don’t already do it, start taking a mid-day nap and extending your nights a little later than usual.  Finally, get your body used to a skosh more alcohol than usual.  There’s a lot of dinking at Burning Man and you won’t want to suffer because of it.

We may be a bit older than the average Burner, but there’s no reason we can’t enjoy it just as much as everyone else.  As many of us learned in the scouts, Be Prepared!