“In such circumstances the mind is influenced through the body. Though your mouth glows, and your skin is parched, yet you feel no languor,- the effect of dry heat; your lungs are lightened, your sight brightens, your memory recovers its tone, and your spirits become exuberant. Your fancy and imagination are powerfully aroused, and the wildness and sublimity of the scenes around you, stir up all the energies in your soul, whether exertion, danger, or strife. Your morale improves; you become frank and cordial, hospitable and single-minded; the hypocritical politeness and the slavery of Civilization are left behind you. Your senses are quickened; they require no stimulants but air and exercise; in the desert spiritous liquors excite only disgust.
There is a keen enjoyment in mere animal existence. The sharp appetite disposes of the most indigestible food; the sand is softer than a bed of down, and the purity of the air suddenly puts flight a dire cohort of diseases.
Here Nature returns to Man, however unworthily he has treated her, and, believe me, when once your tastes have conformed to the tranquility of such travel, you will suffer real pain in returning to the turmoil of civilization. You will anticipate the bustle and confusion of artificial life, its luxuries and its false pleasures, with repugnance. Depressed in spirits, you will for a time after your return feel incapable of mental or bodily exertion. The air of the Cities will suffocate you, and the careworn and cadaverous countenances of citizens will haunt you like a vision of judgment.”
Source: Personal journal entry of Richard Burton during his Pilgrimage to Meccah and Medinah circa 1853. From ‘The Life of Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton’ by Isabel Burton, published in 1893 –via the 7/8/10 Jack Rabbit Speaks
yes, burning man is art. and parties. and revelry. san francisco values to the max. and perhaps even a secular religious experience on par in cultivity, mysticism and worship of the extremes as snake-handling and ancient egyptian rituals.
but what i love most is the desert. i love being in the desert. i love the feel of being dusty. i love hot sun followed by cool night winds. i love my body being forced to reckon with nature. and not having a choice about it.
despite our wonderful vacation to south america, i am carrying much stress, still, and i am still dealing with this pain management issue that because it’s tiring and boring and unchanging i’ve stopped talking about but is still present.
and while many will go to burning man to have the ultimate excited social experience – thousands of new friends and neighbors, amazing things to participate in 24/7 – i intend to spend a lot of time alone on the playa this year. calming down. this is an intention. but it is also a result of circumstance.
jay can’t go to burning man this year. his work during this time requires him to be at least online and reachable by phone. this means, that for the first time in our 12.5 year relationship, one of us will be going on an extended, non-family vacation without the other. yes, we’ve each gone to michigan to see our families without the other. and in the winter jay often goes up to tahoe on weekends to do the snowy sports things that i don’t like. but the difference here is that once i get somewhere north of Reno, my phone will stop working. and there will be no communication until i come back, 6-7 days later, depending.
this is making us both sad and i think a little nervous. sad because it’s not that jay doesn’t WANT to go – he can’t. and nervous due to separation anxiety. we’ve never been this long apart.
every day that my departure gets closer, our feelings about this amplify and it gets harder to wrap our heads, and arms, around.
i thought about not going. but i want this. i won’t say need, but it feels like need. i want this.
i saw my friend last weekend, shortly after we’d returned from south america, and she noted how much different i looked than the last time she had seen me. younger, she said. my face – so relaxed. so less tense. and it’s true. sometimes you don’t know how much you’re carrying until the weight has been lifted. and i still have more weight to shed.
i am also looking forward to practicing some self-reliance. yes, i am camping with an awesome camp of 50 people i trust and love, inside a village that has a population of…150?. but i’ve never gone to burning man without jay, i’ve never had to consider and organize all of my own logistics – getting to and from, my tent (how to stake it down/cover it up), my food (how much? what cold? what cooking?), my bike. i am not nervous about this – especially since i think my personal needs regarding these things are pretty minimal, and there will be a lot of infrastructure and support. what will be different most of all will be managing all of my own time. outside of a few camp obligations, i will have all of my own time to manage, without the consideration of pull of anyone else’s needs/wants/agenda.
what will i do with myself?
i am hoping that the desert provides me with what i need right now. i just don’t know what that is.
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i need a reset button. i realized a while ago, that for 2004-2008, i had a weeklong rebooting procedure that took place in the middle of the desert where i drank a gallon of water every day and ate very little and rode my bike for miles and danced for hours every day. some people go to burning man and toxify themselves; i was always detoxing. some people go to yoga retreats in bali to do this kind of thing, to eat sparingly and meditate and flush and cleanse. for 5 years i did it at burning man. and this year, i did not have that. my mind was ok with it, the not going, because i had europe instead! but i don’t think my body was. and traveling around europe for a month instead was the opposite, physically, drinking wine at all hours and smoking cigarettes and hookahs and eating all kinds of rich creamy fattening foods because there was nothing else and yes walking but not in the hot sun and not for all night and sleeping 10-12 hours a day is not exercise. and i think that this is true, and if there’s anything i now regret about not going to burning man this year it is that i did not get this physical reboot.
and yes now, not to keep going on about it, but my body hurts. and i need TIME to find some other way to reboot. and my boss, he is so kind, he today agreed that i should be at work less, sitting in my chair less, and that i can cut the number of hours my butt is in this chair and it will be fine. and also that i can have someone build me a standing desk configuration, so that the hours i am here will be better. and while it didn’t take the pain away, at least i think i’ll have more time to Focus On My Body now, more time for therapy appointments and yoga and walking and things, and less time sitting. this is good news.
on to other topics, for the rest of 2009 it looks like a lot of low-key hibernatory activities, although we are going to Tahoe for Christmas (yay!) and so i will actually see some snow this year. the chain of christmas holiday parties starts this friday night and lasts until around 1/1 (i don’t have any plans for NYE yet and i don’t plan on making any either). i haven’t had a drink in 9 days (i sound like an alcoholic but this is for cleansing/healing reasons, not addiction reasons, i swear) and i intend to stay sober until around sunset on 12/31. this makes holiday parties slightly less fun, but not a big deal. lack of hangovers makes up for it.
and while i’ve been bitching and moaning (literally) a lot these past few weeks (and to those of you who have had to put up with it IRL, please be kind enough to forgive any snappy retorts, evil eyes, or frustrated outbursts you may have been the recipient of or been witness to; i swear i am not really like this), today i feel optimistic, and am once again counting my blessings instead of curses. most of those blessings are people, and i am most thankful for the lot of wonderful humans in my life who make this whole l-i-v-i-n thing bearable.
(aside: for the full first episode of The IT Crowd, quoted and linked in the first line, click here. awesome sauce.)Filed in autobiographical, burning man, food, health & vegetarianism, me myself and i | Tagged with pain management | Comment (0)
Tamara, Antje & I in Miss Velvet Cream designs @ the Black Rock Arts Foundation annual benefit fundraiser, 11.20.09Filed in art, bay area gems, burning man, events, fashion, friends, photos | Tagged with missvelvetcream | Comment (0)
it sort of feels like when i decided to stop going to church. when i decided i understood enough, had gotten what i needed, had seen behind the curtain, and that i did not need to go anymore. but i could not just throw it all away, all those hours and thoughts and emotions and time, such a large part of my formative years, and so moved on to studying religion, to tracking its history, to seeing its parables and metaphors and literary tools for what they were, developing a different kind of appreciation, one that i carry around deeply with me to this day. will i ever go back to a church, sit in its pews on a sunday morning, and return to the beginning of my journey? i cannot – it’s impossible.
and so it is with burning man, that special place where a community belief and value system is set out in plans, preached, acted out upon, put forward in signs and banners and songs and dances while the revelers let their eyes see the sky and their mouths speak in tongues. where am i with this? did i get enough to continue to pay it forward without going back? will i ever return to those morning worship services even though i know they will never be the same? i cannot know until i have moved on whether my heart will simply look back or long for return.
we leave for europe in 11 days. i will turn 33 in 23 days, on the other side of the planet. in my 34th year, i am to learn many things, see many places, live many lives, and that journey started with this, collecting what i have and moving forward, not taking the path already tread.Filed in burning man, personal favorites, philosophical ramblings, travel | Tagged with wanderlust | Comment (0)
i haven’t done a ‘this is what i’ve been up to’ bulleted post since the end of may, which means this one covers June, July, and August. wow. so i guest that makes this a “Summer 2009″ who/what/where/when summary. much of this has already been referenced in singular posts or tweeted, but if i don’t summarize like this i lose track.
after the beautiful zimtrix wedding came JUNE:Filed in art, autobiographical, bay area gems, burning man, events, fashion, friends, phish | Tagged with badunklsista, false profit, mexico, oakland, priceless | Comment (0)
Get real. Burning Man is a completely outrageous, multimillion dollar, for-profit, impossibly unsustainable theatrical megaproduction. This is, in part, why we love it. Tickets are $300 and it costs many hundreds if not thousands more in gear, supplies, transport to attend, and while you can get there and do it on a grimy hippie sort’ve budget if you leech on your friends just right, it’s basically a very expensive, meta-bohemian, chemically enhanced anti-vacation. It’s all a grand and ridiculous and temporary illusion, not at all meant to be transposed on a livable sphere.
Or is it? You may not be able to take the pseudo-economy and the neo-pagan society back with you, but what you can transpose, of course, is the sense of awe. The fearlessness. The creative wonder. You can bring back confidence. Abandon. Fierce joy. Really, what more could you ask for?
five years in a row has indeed instilled in me this sense of awe/joy/abandon/creativity/wonder in my daily life (although it ebbs and flows). case in point: bringing these life lessons home from the playa and applying them to Our Daily Lives, the Stay Behind team has many devious plans for this coming Week Without Burners in SF, definitely not limited to Balsa Man. this is the whole point, right? take the class, apply it to Real Life? consider this year Burning Man Practicum.Filed in burning man, morford worship | Comment (0)
this post has been sitting in draft since september 16, 2008, and i have kept revisiting it, trying to finish, trying to think of what to say, so this is pretty fragmented and definitely incomplete. now that we are definitely NOT going to burning man this year and pretty much everyone we know who is going is leaving for BM 2009 within the next 5-7 days, i think i’ve reached a time limit and feel like i should say something about last year. it did happen.
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