Burning Man 2014
How Was Burning Man? An Impossible Question
How was Burning Man? A nearly impossible question to answer. How can you summarize something when you can’t possibly fully understand it without having experienced it yourself and when no two people’s experience is the same?
Each year 70,000 people from around the world come together to build a city, Black Rock City, where thousands of art instillations are erected over 7-square miles of desert in an extremely inhospitable climate where they’re at the mercy of Mother Nature. At the end of the week, everyone leaves without a trace like the city never existed, with only their memories, photos and new friends as proof that it wasn’t just a dream.
Each person brings in and takes out something completely different each year. Not only does it depend on what they want to get out of it, but also what “the playa” determines they need to get out of it. “Playadipity” is what Burners will so affectionately call it. The atmosphere of Burning Man allows for the availability of having something you value or want, plopped into your lap unasked for and unexpectedly on the playa, much faster than almost anywhere else in the world. Playadipity.
Witnessing a memorial and wedding celebration at the exact same time at the Temple, an extremely spiritual place as it is, especially when this year’s Temple of Grace is meant to represent mourning, reflection, celebration and commemorating life transitions. Mourning the loss of a life and celebrating a newly married couple’s new life at the exact same time serves as a friendly reminder that creation and destruction are but two sides of the same coin. Playadipity. An EO member from LA who made the trek to Burning Man by himself but fortuitously runs into a dEOxidizer on the playa who invites him to join our camp and he instantly gains seventy new best friends on his journey. Playadapity.
Burning Man really is only something that can be experienced and not described because words, photos and videos just don’t do it justice. How can you describe the moment you embraced a stranger at the Temple in the middle of a whiteout dust storm and then parted ways without exchanging words? It’s utterly indescribable, as were many other moments on the playa, so the best thing to do is to keep it short and sweet.
We created a community. We collaborated for months. We built a camp for seventy people. We experienced Burning Man’s first lockdown in its 28-year history. Some of us got locked in. Others got locked out. We participated. We shared. We gifted. We radically included. We crafted cocktails. We gave Vitamin B12 shots. We ate lobster. We self-expressed. We danced. We celebrated. We checked bucket lists. We did yoga. We watched TedX Talks. We reflected. We mourned. We bonded. We hugged. We made new friends. We saw art. We climbed in art. We got on an art car. We got off the art car. We survived dust storms. We survived hailstorms. We embraced the burns. We had our own burn. We laughed. We cried. We had a blast and will remember these moments for the rest of our lives.
As someone who’s been known to suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) from time-to-time, I sometimes feel like there was so much that I missed out on at Burning Man when I hear about other people’s amazing stories (a cool camp that I missed or an art piece that I didn’t see), but then I remind myself that every person’s experience will be different every single year and that I got exactly what I needed from this year’s burn. I fully embraced the entire experience - from the beautiful burns to the sacred space of the Temple of Grace - and I loved every minute of it. I wasn’t ready to come back to the Default World at the end of the week, but now I have something to look forward to every year.
Burning Man is greater than I ever could’ve imagined. Some day, I want to live in a world with the culture, community, creativity and camaraderie of the Burning Man culture. Not just for one week a year, but for all fifty-two weeks. A place that is devoted to acts of gift giving where nothing is expected in return. A place with such incredible generosity that it completely renews your faith in humanity.
Original article authored by Crystal Warner and appeared in Entrepreneurs' Organization Reno-Tahoe Chapter in October 2014.