Celebration: Dancing Through a Waterfall of Fire at Burningman
Illumination, Navigation, and Celebration are the gifts of Burningman Lamplighter Camp I was part of, and so I mirror these in my post-burn writings. Illumination holds some of the greater-humanity experiences shared on the playa. Navigation shares the oddities and facts of Black Rock City and the Burningman organization. Celebration is my own personal flavor and experiences during the week I spent in the desert.
Celebration: Dancing through a Waterfall of Fire at Burningman
Standing almost 7 feet tall, I watched the horizontal waterfall of fire wash across the desert, clearing barriers and igniting exhilaration. The wind blew coals from the burning man across my boots and out toward the open playa. CRASH! The Man caved in on itself releasing an explosion of fire. An airborne chuck of flaming shrapnel hit me in the chest, and I laughed, because I was wearing body armor! And out of everyone in the crowd I was the safe one to hit with projectiles. Stepping to my left, I waded out of the burning river as the people surged forward and began a howling counter-clockwise run encircling the fire.
With my 7 inch knee-high platforms with spot lights glued to the toes, body armor, EL wire, and pink spiky wig, people happily separated and flowed around me. Someone stopped, and I picked them up in an enveloping hug until they let go of whatever cares they were holding. I set them back down slowly; they flashed a brilliant smile continued their run.
I stood at the edge of the fire behind a star and watched as the world circled, looking for its right position, each heart gleefully running, and hopefully pausing. Each place in the circle was a universe of its own, and a pause in such a place brought on an expectant journey.
Most of my week was spent in solo adventures, an unattached wanderer flying through the energy circles of a thriving, pulsing, living city, surrounded by the deep-dust space of a soul-canvas eager for the paintings of humanity. Exploring, dancing, journeying, feeding the craving of the adventurer within, I painted the canvas with large confident strokes, proclaiming my independent connectedness. I rode miles through the dust following a superhighway only visible to me, arriving at a spirit-paradise that only I could see, and sitting in a place that only mattered to me. Days of this, nights of this, spirals of freedom, as my smile slowly grew into a whole-body glow.
I danced, climbed, played, and floated. My spirit initially a bit intimidated by all the other playful spirits quickly began to live the celebration. I watched sunrise after sunrise, each growing in meaning, brightness, and connectedness. As my glow brightened I began to paint the canvas with others rather than just next to them. I set up a slackline and taught the art of balance, here-now, and mindful movement. I became a furry smile, gifting hugs and stability, with an ear for all troubles, and a playful heart for adventure.
I was overflowing with life.
My journey to Burningman began 8 years ago as I slowly ingested the idea of such a radical “festival.” But the turning point came a year ago while my friends were all at the Burn and I had my first Playa dream. It was so intensely powerful that I woke up in the middle of the night, turned on my computer, and tried to buy a ticket.
Post Burn dreams this year were even more prolific, and yet most were jumbled and hard to understand. My mind-state matched, full of puzzle pieces floating around, some fitting, some not. Most have landed now, but some I feel will continue floating unnoticed until they find the right place, setting off a sure-fire spark of connections again rocking my delicately resilient world.
The integration back into the world has been seamless and inspiring. The playa catapulted me through a few barriers I’ve been struggling with for awhile and only barely suspected. Eyes open, heart open, life open; I am looking forward to the brightness of the future, but also sitting calmly in the refreshing now.
Ideas for next year are soaring, art projects, costumes, rogue prank art, love, and fire. Rites of Passage (the theme for next year) already has its hooks in my heart, as I think it is something our world has sadly neglected, so possibilities for the upcoming burn are flying around a light speed. Every once in awhile I catch one, and oooh it cool! But then it takes off again buzzing and gathering speed. What they will become who knows, but right now my mind is a hive of excitement.
Burningman is a week of excess, a period of time that is extra, forgotten, out of the books, happy and free. It is a time for humans to put down the shovel and say “ok, now for me, what would I like.”
The doorway between worlds had been a pleasant one, full of its own journeys and adventures, each leaving with a completely confusing, and yet totally useful gift. Most I have yet to figure out how to use, and a few I haven’t even seen yet.
Black Rock City is a place of passion, a place of motivation, a place of freedom. Is it incredible to see what people can do when they are left alone to pursue what they love. A week is a big enough window into the soul of humanity to provide a gloriously uplifting view of what’s inside our society. It provided clues to what we crave, what we nurture, and what we don’t care for at all.
The desert is unnatural. From the moment we arrive our body is out of its comfort zone, so we adapt, because that’s what we’re good at. We learn, and change, because that’s what we do when we’re out of our comfort zone. We work to make it comfortable. The same thing happens when we land in a far off city, country, world. We start to learn the language, figure out the public transit system, learn where to get food, where to sleep. Burningman is the same. A new world constructed right on top of the old.
We wake up, and for a moment we want to stay in our bed, because it is safe and known, but then our curiosity gets the better of us, and says “hey! There is a pretty amazing world out there to explore, go!” and so we go, and we explore, and we stay up until sunrise because there is so much exploring to do. And each person we encounter along the way through the day is part of the journey.
Black Rock City is a microcosm for the intentional existence. Thing happen at the right moment, the right place, and to the right people. This is partially a byproduct of everyone going openly, without an agenda.
So, again, what is it all for? What do 50,000 people do when they realize the desert has changed them? They go back “home” to the default world, and look closely at it, trying to figure out how they can sneak a bit of passion into an everyday activity.
The complete set of photos can be seen here. Take your time, enjoy, there are about 200 of them.