In August 2012 we went to Burning Man: Fertility. Going there has been on my mind for almost 10 years. The photographs and accounts from the event paint a surreal picture of a city from a post apocalyptic movie. The art installations, the costumes, the desert landscape and crazy artistic people, were all major reasons for wanting to go. But getting there isn’t easy. Its 2800 miles from the east coast. Its a 5 hour drive from San Francisco. All the RVs are rented many months in advance, and tickets always seemed hard to get. You have to be prepared for surviving on your own for a week in the desert. One of the main mottos of Burning Man is RADICAL SELF RELIANCE after all. So for many years Burning Man was just some place where I HOPED to go someday. Like a lot of other things, it was something I put off for when the time was right, when things would align, when I had people to go with or the money to rent an RV. Now I know that it wasn’t about waiting for the right timing. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t up to the challenges, I was not ready to take my own path or make commitments to my own future, I wasnt ready to give up control and surrender to serendipity, I wasn’t ready as burners say to COME HOME!
The last couple years we have sought to change our lives, scaling down, choosing to travel, welcoming uncertainty and opportunities as they came to us. As a result we have become different people. Travel has changed us. Our experiences have changed us. The people we have met along the way have changed us. We are more open minded, driven to explore, welcoming to new adventures, more self reliant in surviving adverse environments or situations. Most importantly we are done waiting for the perfect moment to do the things we want to do. Sometimes all you need is a change in mind set and you find yourself standing in the middle of an immense desert playa watching the sun set behind a giant wooden statue, the neon lights of thousands of camps for miles around holding the promise and excitement of the night ahead.
So leaving all the excuses behind we bought the tickets. No plan, no definite camp to join, no sure way of getting there. Its that commitment that gets the plan in motion, and makes you start your journey. We now know that we can always figure out the rest along the way. We were going to our home in the desert for a week, to join a different kind of community, a huge party, a temporary city that draws tens of thousands, a place that means so many different things to every person who ends up there, a place that does not leave any one of the people who attends unchanged.
Burning Man is a place, Burning Man is a party, Burning Man is an art event. Its an experience, its a challenge, its an awakening. Its a dusty dirty place, hot during the day cold at night, with public toilets covered in shit and stickers, weird naked people running around, some beautiful some not, some nice some outright obnoxious and mean. Its really a reflection of the real world concentrated into a very dis-habitable place, stripped of many inhibitions that stop us from being ourselves, with an idea of creating art and a community just for the sake of its own existence. You quickly realize that there are rules just like in any other society, well maybe less rules and more inside jokes mixed in with safety regulations from the organizers of the event. The people who have been going for a long time can come off as extremely welcoming to “Virgins”, with impromptu hugs and gifts, as well as obsessively elitist because they have been coming for many years and know shit that you don’t. Some people get too much into believing that the Burning Man event is a world that is different from the “Default World” or how they call normal society. Maybe it is, or maybe its just another manifestation of the multifaceted reality that we humans can create if we are given freedom to be open to various possibilities. Traveling as much as we have, we understand that there is no Default World. There are so many takes on the truth as there are different human experiences in the universe. The only thing we can do is to try to fully participate in the human experience, challenge our limits, create art, strive to change things that we perceive as wrong, and to try to build our camp or our world according to our understanding of those greater truths. And sometimes we need to take a week to go into the metaphorical desert, strip away our un-needed clothes and troubles and emerge purified from the fire, with the strength and conviction to continue on our path with a humble trust in ourselves. I cant wait to COME HOME again!
Roma and Natalia are world travelers, photographers, and an all around fun couple. When they are not travelling far away continents or driving around USA in their trusted Highlander, they can be found in San Francisco, California.