The Man burns is 24 days.
You, my fellow-Burners, know what I’m talking about. It’s that time of the year again, when you’re checking Ebay for cool gadgets and entering every vintage store to look for glitter, glamour and extravaganza. Unfortunately, this year I’m not part of the fun. My heart cries a little, knowing that in a couple of weeks I will not take that plane to San Francisco, but will fly back to Amsterdam, one of my other homes. But all is good. I’m supposed to be somewhere else this year and totally accept it. Nevertheless, it does remind of the amazing experiences in 2014 and 2015, and the life lessons gained from it.
Burning Man. A yearly festival in Nevada desert, United States of America. Some might call it a drug-infused naked hippie festival, I call it the place where magic happens. Where everything is possible and one can explore all sides of oneself. For one week, all participants create Black Rock City, a city that is built on the ten principles and love. Money is useless (except if you want to buy coffee of ice cubes) and nobody leaves a single trace. Once the festival finishes, people clean up their shit and the desert is, again, deserted. One might even question whether Burning Man took place at all. The beautiful thing about Burning Man is that seeds are planted that start blossoming and fully come to bloom in the future, off Playa (Playa is a reference to the area the festival takes place). Insights gained on Playa have as much (or maybe even more) importance off Playa and I’m happy to share my five most important take-aways of the last two Burns with you:
The Playa always provides
In desperate need of glitter? Your neighbor happens to be glittering people on the street. Stuck in a sandstorm for a while in the middle of deep Playa? A guy with a guitar walks in and starts playing amazing songs. But the beautiful thing is: the Playa also provides outside Burning Man. Reconnecting with camp members in Nepal and Bali brought a little bit of Burning Man to me this year, making me cope with missing out this Burn. Same goes for the lessons you need to learn: you will get the experience on the Playa (and off obviously) you need to learn at that moment. My first year was all about being present and accepting what is, and slowing down, and I learned that the hard way by having my backpack (including passport) being stolen from the trailer I was sleeping in. The second year I was struggling with a burn-out while at the Playa and the lessons were all about listening to my body and needs, while the mind wanted to escape and not miss out on anything. Basically, you get what you need (including experiences) to accommodate you in whatever place you are at that point in time, all to help you grow as a human being. On AND off Playa.
Everything is possible
Have an idea? Just make it happen! Burning Man showed me how to dream big and act bigger. The art work that is shown on the Playa is out of this world and all made by human hands. People have ideas, find ways of funding and get that shit done to show to the rest of the world for a limited period in time. Not because they want to show off or because they want to earn money with it, but simply as an act of sharing and showing an underlying message.
Be what and whoever you want to be, whenever you want to be
Want to try running around naked? Do it! They even have a naked bike ride each year, where hundreds of people ride their bikes naked in a parade around the Playa. Want to wear a dress and make-up as a guy? Do it! Traditional conventions and thought patterns have no power on the Playa, unless you let them. Nobody will judge you for being yourself or exploring yourself. So don’t listen to that voice inside and shut your inner-judge down for a week. Trust me, you will benefit from this for the rest of your life.
The true nature of people is love, compassion and generosity
Take money, background and expectations out of the equation and people will show you this. Everywhere, anytime. There is always a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on, right when you need it. And it might come from a complete stranger, when you least expect it. Burning Man can be intense. Living in the desert for a week is challenging, both physically and mentally. Don’t underestimate that. You sleep little, don’t always eat healthy and push your limits. There are a million impressions to take in and to process every minute, and you’re not always in a happy state with yourself or others. Therefore, you have to take good care of yourself, every single second of the day. And for the moments you forget about this, I found there was always somebody to support me. To hug me. To let me cry. To let me curse. To love me. To be there for me. And also the other way around. Whenever I saw somebody struggling, I would ask them if they needed something. I hugged my ass off (yes – it’s possible!) and provided my shoulder or listening ear. Because really, people DO help the people.
We are all one and together we create the world we want to live in
If 60,000 people can create a world of magic, acceptance, love and peace for one week, imagine what millions of people can create. Experiencing this twice gave and is still giving me lots of hope for the future. I am positive change can and will occur, despite the chaos that is currently going on everywhere in the world. Chaos is necessary for major shifts. I already see so many changes in consciousness and awareness around me, so many people who do things differently, follow their hart and own truth instead of ‘the system’ with its outdated conventions. Change is already happening, right here, right now. It all starts with a single positive thought, intention or act. Be what you want to see and what you see will become what you are. Maybe not directly, but it will have an effect. Little by little, step by step. Just be patient and have faith.
For everybody who is going to the Playa (and specifically all my amazing family members of Disco Chateau) – have an AMAZING time! Forget what you know for a week and life the magic. Find the unicorn inside yourself and live your dream. Whenever, wherever.