I had a fair share of hesitation and anxiety prior to experiencing my first burn. I don’t like camping. I don’t like being dirty. And I certainly do not thrive in extreme heat.
While looking back at my first burn, none of those things mattered when it came to the experience of Burning Man. Now, I must say, not everyone experiences an epic burn. I believe one's stage of life dictates the break-through, growth or challenge of Burning Man.
Each person is individually attracted to BM for different reasons. I’ve wanted to go for 11 years. In fact, I even talk about my desire to go to Burning Man while traveling in Goa, India in search of the notable trance parties. After a decade, I finally made it to Burning Man. And I believe that Burning Man came into my life when the time was right.
I am at a relatively good spot in my life, but like any human I have problems. And being a starving artist is one of them. Although I had my own personal “shit” I needed to internalize, Burning Man exceeded my expectations. In simple terms, BM brought me back to life.
Burning Man taught me:
I Maybe a Starving Artist but I have a Powerful Message & Gift to Share
Oh Seattle. Where do I even begin? For a city that has a yoga studio on every other corner, many places are not receptive to welcoming outsiders. The yoga community can be as petty and exclusive as a highschool cheerleader team. And some of the bookstores are no better.
I moved back to Seattle full of confidence after the Germans toughened me up the previous 15 months. I have been denied, ignored and rejected by nearly every studio, blog, bookstore and newspaper I reached out in regards to offering a book reading or a personal growth workshop that incorporates concepts from my books. Seriously, it’s just a travel memoir about change and spirituality – what’s so wrong with that? Some of it could’ve been universal with the energy not being the right time, but I am no newbie to the health and personal growth world.
My artistry is writing and understanding the art of human movement (and the mind). I couldn’t even get a book reading or book a yoga class at my local library, but yet MOBY who also wrote a memoir got front page press at Seattle Library. Another independent shop said, “Thanks but no thanks. We don’t think your story will bring in the people or enough money to make the event worth it.” I guess I could only thank them for being honest since the Pac NW is ultra-sensitive and passive.
Of course, I don’t blame the system on what brings in money. I totally get it. An independent writer can’t compete in a popularity contest with a big wig like MOBY. BUT…I do believe my story could have more of an impact on the everyday Joe Schmo as I watch countless amounts of stressed corporate junkies live their life in “fight or flight,” but in reality they want more out of life. I see the women who are broken from shitty (or failing) relationships and gravitate towards drugs, sex and alcohol to uplift their spirits.
The best denial came from an organization that said, “this content belongs only at East West bookshop.” I replied stating a travel memoir is about growth and change and the reply included, “it’s out of the box (aka controversial).” BUT…the next month they booked a lady to read from her book about abortions. Seriously!? There is nothing more controversial than abortion, politics and religion. It blistered my mind as hypocrisy rules many notions in life.
Burning Man, an enclave of artists (and I’m slightly tearing as I write this), re-boosted my confidence just like the Germans did last year. Many people praised me for the efforts of “telling it all” and I felt accepted as if I have some fucking value in this money-driven world. I gave away a book after each yoga class I taught at the Lotus Dome at 5:00E.
It was the nicest feeling in the world that anyone gave two-shits for actually wanting to read the book. And at times, I lost my emotions, which I did while drinking naked espresso with three girls (Irish, English and Slovakian). I felt free. I felt alive. I felt uplifted amongst a community of independent artists.
To say the least, to get praised for something that you pour heart and soul into felt good after 8 months of non-stop rejection. But, I am thankful for those rejections because it builds thick skin, which is essential as an artist.
Pretty much, Seattle has committed spiritual suicide. The city is becoming the next SFO and people are losing their minds about money. Burning Man not only boosted my confidence as an artist, but it helped me reevaluate the meaning of success.
On Saturday, my last day and night in the playa, I remember riding my bike through the desert. After conquering a dust storm, chills overcame my body and something clicked in my brain. Society (especially America) is so god damn obsessed with money, which my relationship w/ money changed after living in Germany. The average North German makes 1800-euros per month and pays 40% tax. Life was simple. Life was pure. Life was magical.
While dancing to the last beats of techno, I cried on the dancefloor because I conquered one of my dreams – writing a book. Sure, my sales are nothing to brag about, but I reevaluated that the lives I’ve (hopefully) touched are worth more than some stupid paycheck. I spent three years of non-paid time writing, editing and thinking. That dedication taught me to be proud of what I achieved since most people wouldn’t commit to that (or at least hire a ghostwriter).
I also contemplated my success for living my dreams. I'm unconventional. I don't want a house, fancy car or some VP office job. Anything constricting feels like a noose around my neck. Instead of celebrating work accomplishments, I recognized how far I've evolved in life and gave credit to all of my travels, which is my vanity.
It was a pure shedding of the ego that reconfirmed sometimes I really don't give a shit what other people think.
One of the most blissful aspects of Burning Man was being out of cell reception. I lost reception about 45 minutes outside of Reno. And thank God!
Escaping the email, the Facebook rants, the petty politics and terrorism in Europe, I disconnected from the device that drags me down every…flipping…day. The pressure of today is just as intense as it was in the past. In the past people worked like dogs to tend crops and survive. Today, we are minions of money-makers.
Sure some potential blog partners want to know “How many Instagram and Pinterest followers do you have now?” Oh, I don’t have enough? So, that makes me not valuable, right? WRONG! That’s not what the playa taught me.
Instead of worrying about all this horseshit, I lived in the moment and breathed in the dusty air. The cathartic experience of burning art allowed me to "burn" off anything that brought me down. Oh my God, if I could go back to a life without a smart phone, I’d be there.
I felt as if I had more time on my hands and the freedom to choose anything – an art workshop, a rave or ride around the playa. The playa is a magical and powerful being.
In Latin and Greek, spirit translates to breath. It was ironic that in the playa I felt like I could actually breathe. In Seattle, I’ve suffered off and on respiratory problems, which I will blame because of all the construction dust in the air. Seattle once healed me when I moved here seven years ago, and now I feel like a sick dog.
Once the body can breathe, #OMG amazing things happen. To me, Burning Man is a modern day spirit circle. Now, there are copious amounts of drugs on the playa. And well, spiritually sophisticated cultures like Native Americans and Egyptians had their fair share of getting high. Although it’s not my thing, most everyone is at their best, enhancing the experience with a bit of mind-altering drugs.
Between dancing, energy healing sessions and the gifting and sharing concept, you can’t help but change at Burning Man.
One of the most amazing things I personally experienced was that I lost all physical pain. For days, every ounce of negativity escaped my body. I no longer had shoulder or low back pain. And I certainly did not have PMS, which in the real world debilitates me for the first 24 hours.
I had a complete union of the mind, body and spirit that ascended me up the spiritual ladder. I felt as free and light as angel. Things such as pain, negativity or cruelty did not exist in my reality.
I remember dancing on Friday, and I kept saying, “I feel like I am on Mars.” Between the lights, music and the stars, everything outside of Burning Man seemed like a blackhole that I did not want to re-enter.
My mind empowered, I believed nothing but beauty, life and love existed. When I believed this, my body experienced the best 72 hours of its life.
I believe pain goes beyond physical misalignments. It’s the pain and agony of the soul, desperately trying to break free of whatever is holding it back.
Is there such a thing as pain free living? I believe there is. I believe the playa wanted me to experience this to ascend me to the next level of confidence to start teaching others what I’ve learned after 12 years of spiritual journeying.
A big lesson for me in 2016 is to experience the rough and tough parts of life. If I had it my way, I would’ve opted into accessing the “easy” parts of life, but that is not what the universe had in store for me.
I am spiritual. Spiritual people normally believe that everything happens for a reason. I do whole-heartedly believe this, especially because I know I came to Burning Man at the right time.
But, not all Burning Man-ers may feel the same. Another concept is random chaos in that things happen spontaneously and not as planned. That is the more logical and scientific way of seeing the world (and what makes the world go ‘round). And there are plenty of logical techie people at BM.
The playa reconfirmed my spiritual beliefs. The only person I keep in touch with from childhood came to Burning Man. No matter how hard we looked for eachother, we kept missing eachother, sometimes by minutes. Once she left, I arrived. Once I left, she arrived. Although a big bummer, I believe that we needed to experience Burning Man on our own terms. We both needed to internalize our own information and work through our inner-world battles.
It taught me that there is something higher guiding us. Spirit guides. Angels. Ascended Masters – whatever it is, something is giving us obstacles or shifting us around like the gamekeeper from the Hunger Games.
I also believe in spirit guides. I believe that nature is a reflection of our inner world. I’ve had multiple encounters with animal spirit guides throughout my life.
And the same happened on the playa – a place where life cannot EXIST because of the alkaline environment.
On the last day, I rode my bike through the playa, carefree and “sailing” across the desert, going wherever the wind guided me. Suddenly, my chain popped off my bike but luckily I got it on back.
I headed face-first into a dust storm and pedaled to whom the fuck knows where. Somewhere near the temple. Once the storm past, I pedaled forward, thinking about my life as an artist. I looked over my left shoulder and saw a blue dragonfly following me. I turned my head forward and our path split and we departed our ways. I pedaled to the right and the dragonfly flew to the left.
Once I got back into cell reception, I looked up the meaning of dragonfly to find it’s most powerful message as, “symbolizing the transformation and life’s ever constant process of change needed in order for one to reach his or her full potential.”
I believe I was sent to Burning Man to ascend myself to the next level. The shift from pupil to teacher to Master, I thank Burning Man for all of its powers that it sent to me.
This blog post is long enough so stay tuned as I talk about the The Power of Nature at Burning Man & its Perspectives in the next post.
Did you go to Burning Man? Did it change your life? I'd love to hear your story!