I sat down to start writing about my week at Burning Man and I couldn’t do it. I didn’t know how to start. It wasn’t until an hour ago when my thoughts finally came to me and I finally understood how this last week impacted me.
I just finished an interview with Michael Latronica, the man who runs The Center down the street from my house in San Francisco. I was interviewing him to write an article about The Center for Hoodline, a neighborhood-based news site that I am now freelancing for (exciting!). I came to the interview open-minded and ready for a conversation with someone I was genuinely interested to get to know. I wasn’t thinking of it as doing my job, but more about the two of us having a real and honest conversation. I walked into The Center ready for a new experience, whatever it was.
Recently, I have felt closed off to making new connections with people. I go about my day with my head down, probably phone in my hand, just living in my bubble world and hoping that no one talks to me. Burning Man opened me up to the possibility of spontaneity and discomfort, and finding comfort in that newness. I feel more approachable, and willing to approach others with loving kindness and probably a bit too much friendliness than people are normally comfortable with.
Burning Man for me wasn’t about ~~~*eNliGhtEnMenT*~~~~, but about letting go of expectations and being okay with what is happening in the present. This is something I have been practicing in my everyday life with my mindfulness practice, but became a real-life practice for me during the week living in the desert away from distractions and connections to the outside world.
We had an amazing camp, the Post Office, a group of new and long-time “Burners” (a word I am now using thoughtfully, thanks to Kat), that became a wonderful home for me to rest my head at night. I felt supported in the journey of my week and like I truly had a family around me. I acro-ed a lot, meditated, got a massage, had my hair washed (shout out to Shonna), had a photoshoot with a professional photographer, traversed sunrises and sunsets, and gave a lot of great hugs. The details of the week are special to me and those who experienced them with me, and in the hopes that everyone continues to have their own experience at Burning Man, I am happy to share them privately with you if you ask.
After my interview with Michael today, he gave me not one but TWO great hugs and offered me a month of free tea membership at The Center. That to me embodied the magic of Burning Man – unexpected kindness that comes from those that you may least expect.