On my drive into Reno, I was sharing my struggles leading up to the Burn to another close friend - a real veteran Burner - who vehemently declared that with this being my most challenging, it will inevitably be my greatest. He couldn't have been more on the mark. Looking back, I think this photo was the pivotal moment when it all began to shift for me. A couple hours into an especially heavy trip, I ran into this beautiful soul perched in voyeuristic solitude inside an art piece. Curious, I sat next to him and asked him what he was doing, to which he simply replied: "what are YOU doing here", and then "what are you looking for". Clearly in need of a cathartic release, I broke down into tears for the better part of the next two hours. We spoke about some of my deepest fears, most painful regrets, and solutions to some really wicked problems. From that moment on, I felt empowered to make the positive changes in my life that I had been avoiding, and it has helped to guide me more consciously in my actions over the short time since. A very dear friend told me as we entered the Burn this year that, "the Playa does not give you what you want, it gives you what you need". Ironically, this gentleman above, said exactly the same thing at the end of our chat.
This is precisely the magic of Burning Man - its ability to break you down, to crack you open, and then hurl you into these serendipitous and seemingly random interactions with complete strangers (many of whom you never cross paths with again). It is one that can impact your life permanently. There are few places on earth where one would be comfortable sharing such intimate vulnerability with strangers, and the Playa's otherworldly ability to force you to interact with others and connect with yourself, is truly unparalleled.
I am so grateful for the experiences I have been afforded, the friends I have shared them with, and most poignantly, the lessons from this summer in particular. I am so excited to move forward in a better place as a result. Thank you to all the people who have helped encourage some changes that were necessary - you know who you are - and for supporting these iterations of growth and learning. I'm already itching with excitement for the next Burn, contemplating the best ways to contribute in a more meaningful way, perhaps something like my friend here has done for me. So much love for the support, and can't wait to make this year the best one yet. 💜
1. Follow your gut; it's always right
2. When things seem hard, it can be because you're needing to overcome your own mental limitations
3. Be independent and self-sufficient; it is toxic to be at the mercy of others' decisions
4. Repairing relationships takes huge weights off your shoulders; both people will feel better for it
5. Be single until you're ready to give enough commitment to another person and truly be a partner and a team mate
6. Crying with strangers is oddly cathartic
7. Don't be so reactive and run away out of fear or insecurities; say the hard things, swallow ego and pride, and respond like a grown up.
8. Stop letting insecurities make you feel out of place; you're only out of place if you decide you are
9. Internal power source stems from genuine successes you're proud of
10. Connect with dynamic people in authentic conversations; they're more rewarding
11. Stay sober most of the time; it's easier to remember conversations and you are capable of more productive conversations
12. Exploring organically leads to more serendipity than ever chasing a plan
13. Jealousy and attachment are useless emotions; learn "compersion" for the people you love
14. Surround yourself only with people you admire, respect, are inspired by, and wish to emulate, Humans are truly adaptive creatures, and we become what we surround ourselves with
15. Chasing parties is perpetually unsatisfying
16. It's easy to connect with people if you just make an effort to listen to what they're saying