Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Burning Man is for Doers

Burning Man participants bike near "The Man"
Amateurs try their hand at basic trapeze maneuvers 
A shot ski goes down in the middle of the desert.
Why I go to Burning Man

It's cliché to say Burning Man has to be experienced to be understood, but in many ways its true. (If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is experiencing it firsthand worth?)  That said, I will attempt to explain why I attend Burning Man.
People fit into one of two groups: watchers and doers.
Watchers will critique a flash mob, but won't organize one, show up to the costume party, but don't take risks and are the last ones to go skinny dipping.
I choose to be a doer.
I guess I've been a doer most of my life. I was more or less involved in student government since grade school, was a union official at work and have served on various boards throughout my adult life. I love that Burning Man celebrates doing. 
Burning Man is not a city. City's can sustain themselves for more than a week. But Burning Man is a community. A community of people that say yes, that take risks, that participate.
For those who know little of the annual week-long experiment in the Nevada desert, Burning Man invites attendee to shed their normal governors on what to wear and how to act. It turns the show or the festival inside out and asks the guests to be the show. Some invite world class disk jockeys to perform, some create a (free) full-functional bar (minus the bathroom), some teach acrobatics, others offer massages classes, other erect beautiful works of art.
Just about the only thing the event offers beyond structure, gatekeepers, port-a-potties, ice and a few classes is a large wood "Man" that of course burns.
One could run themselves ragged, trying to do a quarter of the pre-planned event. Conversely, one could stumble on the perfect day by setting out on your bike and exploring the a dozen or so of the unmapped, unscheduled events planned and executed by people just like me -- doers.   

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