There was something wrong with me when I was a kid. The way my brain worked was wrong, and had to be fixed because it made me do things that were wrong, made me say things that were bad. It made me unable to do things normal kids could. I was sick and had to be healed.
If that might come over as a little strong, picture me this, if you will:
When I was in 3rd grade, so around 8 years of age, I always had good grades. Not because I worked hard, but because I studied a lot of things out of natural curiosity. I caught on very easily and even despite being a terrible student, I always got 80%+ on my report, which is how we grade students here.
They failed me that year. I remember my mother taking me to my school in the summer vacation, which was a very unusual experience for me. I played while my mother saw my teacher in my usual classroom. I don’t remember her face when she came back, but something tells me she looked very distressed. After trying to calm me down, she asked, “How would you like to stay in your grade next year?”
I considered it, and said, “No.”
They failed me that year for reasons no one ever bothered to explain to me.
“It will blow your mind,” they said, and I nodded. Supposedly, I’d had my mind blown more often than I could count, with pretty much every event and artist I’ve seen. And to be perfectly honest, each time leaned towards a disappointment.
Thankfully, I’ve gotten a lion’s share of epic moments in my life, but when it comes to people’s recommendations, I can’t help but notice that most things are hyped to a legendary status, for all the reasons I couldn’t care less about.
So imagine my surprise when, after asking someone unknown to dance for the first time in my life, I sank to my left knee and she shifted her weight, I noticed that my mind just got blown. Again.
So now I tell people the same: Burning Man will blow your mind. It was a hopeful thing to see someone shy and reserved like me, open up so easily and take in everything with such huge quantities. I left Black Rock City satisfied that I had enjoyed it to the fullest of my capacity.
I thought long and hard on how to share that feeling. I mean, I have a relatively open mind and enough imagination, but even with all the info out there -and I read most of it- I still had no idea what I was getting into. No explanation sufficed to illustrate the experience.
The only attempts that came close, were the articles that delved deeper into the 10 principles of Burning Man. I have to admit I missed the point of those though, because I’m not a big fan of rules and regulations, even in a place where there’s only 10 of them. Reading those posts, I just felt like I was going to be wasting much energy focusing on my obligations rather than my freedoms. Little did I know, the opposite was true.
So let’s go over those principles, and how I experienced them. I hope that, if you can bear with me to the end, you might have a better understanding of why my stay in the Black Rock desert challenged my ideas on society as a whole.
Anything in caps, read it 4 times, slowly. Every single word. Let’s begin:
THERE IS NO SHAME IN LONELINESS
People get lonely sometimes. I know I do, quite easily. Ever since my first break-up I’ve been battling this little voice in my head, telling me that I am alone because I’m worthless, to the point where one day, I surprised myself with my own shadow. Just the fact that it was there.
You get lonely too, I know that. I also know that you feel like you can’t share that with anyone, it’s taboo to be unliked- or feel that way. You might want to call out for help, but you don’t. Perhaps you should?
It’s up to you, but if you want to take my advice:
Draw a line and stick to it. Maybe a point in time, a situation, or a decision that should set off a few alarms, enough to make you act upon it and treat it like the threat that it is. Seek help.
I never said loneliness is a good thing, although solitude might be. But it’s nothing to be ashamed of, people just want to make it seem that way because it’s a problem they can solve if they just give it some effort. But they have problems of their own, and effort comes at a high price these days.
We all have someone though, right? If you don’t, try me. If that wouldn’t work, try professional help. Try anything, but try. Open your god damn mouth.
I crossed the border by bus, suddenly alone. I felt forlorn and excited at the same time, back to how it all started in the planning phase: Me, on a trip, by myself.
I was joined by a German, who, under the assumption of privacy, told her friends behind her all about me and how she suspected that I was pretty disgusted with her smell. Me, I was just happy that for once, I wasn’t the one disgusting others. Running water is such a great invention, even in New York bathrooms where it runs non-stop, soaking into the walls.
I am on the last leg of my trip and already, I miss the road. I do this a lot and it’s a good habit: Near the end of a long vacation, I take the time to visit friends and hang around for a while, in limbo between traveling and home. It slows me down and absorbs the shock of going straight from the car to the day job.
And a home I have here, indeed- Coincidentally, I have a number of friends in Canada and I’m trying to see them all, happy to be the visitor this time. I feel like part of my background took place here in my absence, and it’s nice to catch up. It feels like I was missing this place without ever having been here in the first place. Problem solved; Let the missing begin.