Finding Center in the Chaotic Beauty of Burning Man
I am burnt. And thankful for that. I have arrived back to this reality from the experience that is Burning Man. I am covered in playa fairy dust with a soft heart and peaceful state of mind.
I'm not sure if this sensation will last, but perhaps part of the magic of Black Rock City is going back to remember.
I can only imagine the infinite ways one can burn- the weather, your camp, the role you play as facilitator or wanderer, art of that year- all guide experience. It has been said you receive the burn you need and the playa provides. I agree with this sentiment.
I began bright eyed- soon appropriately named "Alexa Bright"- and I came to the experience with an open heart. However, as I danced with my surroundings, I found myself more discriminating with my energy.
Though Burning Man is one week, every day felt like a universe of happenings. The charge of the space is magnetic and the energy is palpable. The momentum builds as more people arrive for the weekend. However my energy seemed to move in opposition to this current.
Burning Man is a social experiment where radical self-expression and inclusion move from theory to practice. I have explored personal and academic work around social construction and identity, but I had never participated in this kind of alternative community.
Sometimes this looks like cuddle puddles and heartfelt conversation, and sometimes this play has a darker energy, which is not to be excluded. I realized I prefer sunrise and day time frolicking through art and philosophical banter to the sea of neon LED lights and evening EDM shenanigans. The degree to which people alter their state of consciousness and fall into harsh states of being genuinely surprised me.
In witnessing these diverse forms of expression I became more aware of my own essence. I was startled by the purity of my energy, but also appreciative of who I am. As my mother once told me, listen to the quiet voice. That which was soft and gentle led me.
The greatest gift from the playa was to learn to allow everything to be as it is without the need to change anything. I was inspired to let go of external surroundings and root in my center. If I could describe my experience in one word it would be humbled. I began to reflect on the way simple acts of ritual, like making tea, bring me home.
I was fortunate to camp with Deep Tea Hous. This space was natural and blended into the desert. But it was filled with colorful details of Moroccan furniture and hand crafted tea supplies. I had no idea just how meditative and grounding a tea ceremony could be. It was a source of rejuvenation and sanity for me.
I felt such respect for the tea house and the ways people had taken time to set the space, care for it, and share. There was deep comfort in taking part in the camp- shaking dusty rugs and organizing tea cups cultivated gratitude. I became aware of the multitude of ways I am constantly supported by my environment.
The extreme conditions of the desert asked me to care for my space and body. Slowing down to nurture myself- wipe dirt from my cuticles, oil dry skin, and replenish with water and food, became sacred.
Everyone encounters magic at Burning Man. And though it's not always easy, it is a gift to experience. I had healings of massage and tarot. I was gifted musical instruments just as I dreamt of exploring sound. I danced my most full self. I found friends and they found me in gifted synchronicity. I climbed a tower and a tightrope during a dust storm. I strutted down a catwalk on a K Subway train. I listened to live musical chaos of symbols and drums. I stumbled into the snake hair of my muse Medusa. I rode on a sail boat across the desert landscape. I listened to classical music while a light show acted out sweet symphonies. I touched the energy of loss and love in the Temple. I felt sunrise warm my cheeks. I offered sage healings of chakra clearings. I walked to the end of the city just as open desert swarmed me with winds over 50 miles an hour. I pondered the ashes of Timothy Leary.
And just as I’m sure everyone felt, I felt. With love, deep respect, and gratitude.