Throughout my years of pushing through teenage immaturity to fruitful adulthood, I’ve heard about a phenomenal event called “Burning Man”. I first learned about it at my fine years at Warner Bros. where a friend of mine named Suzanne (later to become Anahata) would take a full week off to venture into the desert. My self-consciousness of taking time away from work made me wonder why anyone would dare take more than a few days away, because I dearly questioned job security for myself. It wasn’t until later that my self-consciousness evolved and I also grew to enjoy sick-days when deemed appropriate!
When I knew Suzanne, she was studying the art of belly dancing with Mersmera. Her passion toward dancing doubled in the years as our friendship blossomed, to which she became an instructor and revered goddess named Anahata among her dancing peers.
Anahata is widely known in the Burning Man circle of friends. I have several friends who frequent Burning Man that seem to know or recognize her name. It’s amazing how small this community is; the spidering of connections through one common person helps bridge the gap between social divide. Though Anahata recently started a family, I’m not quite sure whether she continues to go or not. Her stories, as well as others who have attended are… are permanently stuck in my mind. They’re different and personal.
Burning Man is radically inclusive, and its meaning is potentially accessible to anyone. The touchstone of value in our culture will always be immediacy: experience before theory, moral relationships before politics, survival before services, roles before jobs, embodied ritual before symbolism, work before vested interest, participant support before sponsorship.
… experience before theory, moral relationships before politics, survival before services, roles before jobs, embodied ritual before symbolism…
This culture pushes the limits of Burning Man and has led to people banding together nation-wide, and putting on their own events, in attempt to rekindle that magic feeling that only being part of this community can provide. – BurningMan.com
One story that comes to mind is from Catherine of Hoopadelic, a hoop dance & instruction company, as well as highschool best friend from eons ago. I won’t go into detail about it, but maybe another post we’ll talk about Cathy! 🙂
My first year I camped away from the Esplanade at “The End of the Universe”, an area relatively farther from the main playa than most camps. Basically, there’s no transportation in the desert, you bring bicycles or mutant vehicles to get around. Cash ha no value here as it is fundamentally a gift economy. We were exploring the playa late at night and biked through an area that was barren of any art installations – basically there were no lights, hardly any people around – but in the distance a speck of light grew brighter and more defined. The most serendipitous thing of that night, Sonya, was seeing what I’m about to describe. I had no idea what it was, except that there was light and I was heading in that direction. In the middle of the darkness stood a fully outfitted traditional Tokyo style Japanese noodle cake stand – chef in traditional wear, spatula, hat, rice paper lantern with Kanji and all! We were greeted robustly in Japanese and the chef proceeded to give us green onion noodle cakes until we were ready to move on… my stomach and heart were happy, to say the least.” said Cathy.
The simplicity of giving and receiving is commonly forgotten in the world I live in. I’m not sure about you, but everything comes for a price. If I were to ask an old lady if I could help carry her bags, she’d probably attack me with her cane! Ok, maybe I’m over exaggerating, but still it’s hard to find unconditional reciprocated kindness these days. I practice it myself, but hey guys – just because I’m nice doesn’t mean I want to ‘get to know you’, if you know what I mean. I’m just saying.
Here’s a video for you to watch that describes burning man.