Before I Go: Burning Man 2016

I leave for Burning Man in just under two weeks.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t equal parts excited and terrified.  There are so many things that go into spending a week at Burning Man that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you first start researching it.  It’s not like other festivals or events where you plan the week before, show up, dance for a few hours, then go home and go to bed.  No, Burning Man requires months of planning and preparation. Participants live in the desert for a week with no ability to purchase anything (other than ice and coffee).  You’ve got to bring everything you need to survive with you. For those not familiar with Burning Man check out the 10 Principles of Burning Man and also have a look at the video below.

Burning Man has been on my bucket list for years.  It’s something I said I wanted to do without knowing much about it.  Honestly, that’s been my approach to life over the past few years.  I hear a story, talk with a friend, or come across an article about something and before I know it, I’m completely enamored by it.  I’m consumed by the belief that if I don’t do it, or if I don’t go there, my life will lose all meaning and I’ll look back with regret.

Perhaps that’s a bit dramatic, but sometimes the things that motivates us are.  When I really think about it, I know that one can’t live a life completely regret-free, but I once read, “In the end, all we can do is hope to end up with the right regrets,” which, for me, helps to keep things in perspective.

You can’t know what things you’ll look back on with regret.  Sometimes, it’s the things we’ve done, and sometimes we regret the things we didn’t do. Though in my experience, it’s much more common to look back and wish you’d done something than actually regret doing it.  Taking the “what if” out my life has long been a goal of mine.

With this belief in mind, I continue to explore the world and my own consciousness.  Where that path may lead, I have no clue.

In truth, I have no idea what I’ll find out on the playa (what burners call the area of the desert where Burning Man takes place).  I have no idea who I’ll meet or how I’ll behave.  I don’t know if I’ll be overwhelmed with emotion while standing in the temple or think everything there is completely over the top.

Make no mistake, Burning Man isn’t for everyone.  It takes a special type of person to go there and be completely at peace in the openness.

Maybe it’s not for me.

Or maybe it’ll be the best week of my life.

I’ve missed the uncertainty.  I’ve missed not knowing what tomorrow may bring.  I’ve missed the underlying sense of adventure I once had.

The first 22 years of my life were planned and structured.  I had a good idea of what I was going to be doing each and every day weeks before that day came.  It’s not a bad way to grow up, but it’s a difficult way to grow.

The next 3 years were a whirlwind of traveling, questions, and uncertainty.  New places and new people weekly.  It helped me to become even more comfortable with who I was while learning to adapt to any situation.  Not only did I learn to adapt, but I truly learned to enjoy the freedom that comes with the uncertainty I was faced with.  It taught me that change is not only good, but necessary, and with the right attitude, any new situation can be made better than what came before it.

“Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful, it is threatening because it means things may get worse. To the hopeful, it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident, it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better.”

-King Whitney Jr

It’s been over a year since I moved to Kansas City to go back to a “normal life.”  I know that moving back to the States was the right decision at the time (I was seriously burnt out), and I’ve found a job that I enjoy with a company I’m honored to be apart of which is more than most can say.  However, for me, all of the routine takes its toll on me as much as the 3 years of traveling did.  It’s taken some of the excitement and adventure out of life (truth be told, it has taken some of the anxiety out as well, nothing is ever all good or all bad after all).

After what some would consider a 3 year ‘vacation’ (those people have no idea what they’re talking about) I haven’t taken any time off in the past year.  I couldn’t afford it and it wasn’t something I felt I deserved.

I wanted to really throw myself into my new life.  Which meant focusing on my new city and new job.  You have to understand that for 3 years, I didn’t work a job or live in a city I expected to still be in 6 months later.  I learned to keep my eyes to the horizon always looking for my next opportunity (a blessing and a curse I’ve learned).  I’ve done my best to not do that over the past year. To be fully present where I am. To be honest, it’s something I struggle with every day, but that’s a topic for another time.

Burning Man gives me an excuse to look toward the horizon again.  What excites me most about Burning Man is the thought that I can go back to being who I was while traveling.  I can live in the moment without caring what the future will bring and be free of the responsibility I’ve found in KC.  I can turn a corner  and meet someone not from the heart of America.  I can say whatever I want and wear whatever I want without any fear of judgment, because well, it’s Burning Man.

In the end, I need a place where I can recharge by getting to live that type of lifestyle for just a little longer.  I’m not ready to grow up, and the beautiful thing about Burning Man is you don’t have to.  It’s a place where adults can dress like superheroes, watch the sunrise come over the mountains, ride around on art cars, and rediscover their inner child.  The person they wanted to be before the world told them who they should be.

Like I said, I don’t know what I’ll find at Burning Man.  Everything I’ve read says it’s a life changing experience as long as you come into it with an open mind and open heart.  Those two things were my biggest takeaways from years on the road and things I’m beginning to fear I’ve started to lose. I’m hoping that Burning Man helps me rediscover those amazing and welcoming parts of myself.

Only time will tell.  Two weeks and counting…

Stay Gold.

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