It was painful missing out on Burning Man last year.
Had money been no object, I imagine we would have been there. But cost, time and the incredible hassle of preparation weren’t the only reasons I decided that Campbell and I should forsake our annual trip to Black Rock City in Nevada after three successive visits that had provided some of the greatest experiences of my life, bar none. In 2009, in particular, our third year in a row, I had felt a little disappointed at our combined lack of input. A little concerned that we were both taking Burning Man for granted. Genuinely worried that we were starting to behave like tourists, rather than participants. God forbid Burning Man should become our equivalent of the Brit’s annual summer holiday in Benidorm. I thought then that it might be instructive to let the field lie fallow for a year, to use the farmers’ terminology, in the hope that the subsequent harvest would be that much better as a result.

All You Need? Click on thumb nail for full size image

It worked. Not only did we anticipate Burning Man so much more after a year off, but we seemed to treat it with more care once we got there. We prepared well, we created a gift, we enjoyed ourselves and we did our best to participate and to follow the Guiding Principles. Certainly, we were fortunate that for reasons way beyond our control, this was, by considerable consensus, the best burn ever. But it helped that we approached it with a good attitude. That attitude wasn’t perfect, I hasten to add: we’re talking about a dad and his teenage son here, which means there are always going to be disagreements, especially when you’re sharing a tent for seven days and nights with limited sleep, no showers, and minimal hot food. But that’s part of the reason for attending Burning Man in the first place, because it takes your attitudes, your pre-conceptions, your embedded values (such as the need for sleep, food, or showers!), kicks them way beyond the trash fence, and forces you to readjust to the here, the now and the possibilities for a better future. I know that the two of us came away from Burning Man that much closer than we had arrived. I know that it had a profound effect on me personally. Not quite as pronounced us as it did in 2007, and nor should it, that being my first year, but I was surprised just how close I came to falling in love all over again.

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November 2021