Before I Go: Burning Man Round 2- A Note before the madness

But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Alice in Wonderland

Before you have the experience, it’s a fucking lot to try and take in.  It’s not something your brain can easily comprehend.  Honestly, even after going it’s a lot, but like anything else in life it gets easier (and less intimidating) after you’ve done it once.

I can’t tell you how many hours I spent researching what to expect and what to bring before my first burn.  Rarely do I spend much time “planning” a trip (going to Greece in four weeks and have 0 plan as of today, sorry mom) but at the time it felt like something I had to do regardless of how overwhelming it seemed.

I’ve talked about this before, but when I come across something that catches my eye (trip, event, person, or hobby) I jump in with two feet.  It’s the only way I know how to be and to be honest the only way I want to be.  I get this weird (almost) anxious feeling that if I don’t jump in I’ll regret it.  That feeling has lead me across the world a few times, into some both amazing and terrible relationships, and how I found myself with the compulsion to become a Burner.


Burning Man is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced.  It’s not something you can easily explain to someone (learned this on the plane today).  It’s not for everyone (though it does have something for everyone)  It’s not something you can buy a ticket to the day before and just go (at least I don’t recommend it).  It takes prep, it takes experience, and honestly it takes a certain level of insanity.

Only a certain number of people in the world are open to the idea of spending a week in the desert, fighting off the intense heat and the extreme cold, dancing all day/night, where you have to prep and bring everything you want with you.  Even fewer people will actually make the commitment and end up going at some point.

Luckily, with past experience on my side it took significantly less prep time as I know what to expect (as much as that’s possible with Burning Man) and already had most of the stuff I need. Which meant it was easier to prepare for this burn than the last.

I’ve had friends claim they want to go, get a ticket, and then the reality of how much work it is sets in and they’re like “nah I’m good.”  They bail and honestly that’s probably the right move for them because you have to be ready both physically and mentally for what Burning Man is.

There are thousands of blogs and videos out there about what Burning Man “is” because it’s different and special to each person so I won’t go into too much detail about it.

To me, Burning Man is the place where childlike wonderment meets the freedom to be who you really are and pursue what you really want based off endless possibilities.

There is no judgment at Burning Man and while there is some loose structure there really isn’t.  If you want to spend your day wrestling in pudding you can.  If you want to eat donuts and watch porn you can.  If you want to watch Tycho as the sunrises you can.  It doesn’t matter what you do and no one really cares how you spend your time.

It’s a place where you never know what you’re going to find, who you’ll meet, or where you’ll end up. To a person like me, that’s the best part.


This entire year has been hectic as fuck for me.  It’s been one thing after another.  Things have gotten even crazier since getting back from Russia.  I realize my schedule ultimately is up to me, but lately I’ve been going a million miles a minute with little opportunity to reflect or disconnect (hence the lack of writing).

As I sit on the plane flying out to San Fransicsco it’s the first time all year I’ve actually focused on what lies ahead of me.  What do I actually want to get out of the experience?  Why am I going?  Do I expect it to be similar or different than last time?

The older I get, the more aware I am about how I’m spending my time.  By going to Burning Man for a second time it meant giving up going to Morocco or Columbia or South Africa this year.  I’ve become more and more intent with each trip making sure there is a reason and purpose to why I’m going (granted sometimes that reason is “it looks cool” but still that’s something).

The things I really want to get out of my second burn are:

Connection: With old friends, while making new ones

People make life worth it.  You never want to fall in love with places because they don’t miss you when you’re gone.  The variety of people at Burning Man is second to none and it’s an amazing place to broaden you world view, make a new best friend, and create a few memories.  We have a group of 25 so this shouldn’t be too hard.


Getting Lost & exploring myself:

While I love people and spend most of my days with them.  (clients, coworkers, roommates, and friends) very rarely do I have chunks of time totally to myself which is something I need.  This is a great opportunity to wander off into the desert and remind myself who I am when no one else is around similar to the three years I spent traveling alone.

Tech Chill out:

Working at a tech company for three years can wear on you.  I want to disconnect from my that side of my life for a week and appreciate things as they come without worrying about timelines, budgets, or employee drama.  While I still do my best to document my experience I will be away from emails, Slack, and all things web related.

Random experiences which lead to good stories.

I love storytelling (no shit right?). But to be a good storyteller you have to be interesting and the only way to become interesting is to do stuff.  You don’t become interesting by sitting in a room alone.  You have to put yourself out there and constantly add new events to you life.

I have no idea if this year will be anything like the previous one .  I don’t know if I’ll have a transcendent life experience or just leave covered in dust.  But I do know if I can succeed in doing those four things I’ll have had an incredible burn.  Hell, if I can do half of those things the burn was a success.

Stay Gold.

Todd Smidt

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