Embrace Nature

Embrace Nature

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Too Much or Not Enough

Recently I had a conversation in which it was suggested that perhaps I'm asking too much. This was after I said that what I want to do with my life is something:
  • worth waking up for each day,
  • that makes a positive impact on the world,
  • challenging,
  • with enjoyable coworkers,
  • that occupies me.
On one hand, I admit it's a lot to ask for - especially to experience those aspects every minute of every day.

But each paid job I've had so far seems to move me a bit closer to perfection. Why not keep searching?

A Nonjudgmental World

A few posts ago, I wrote a commentary on awareness of your impact, and how Burning Man promotes such. That post was more specifically about one's impact on the environment. But I also believe that Burning Man deserves respect as a social experiment on how people affect each other, and how people view each other.

One of my most meaningful musings about the event revolves around the lack of judgement that people seem to take on one another. In the default world, people (including myself, as always, as I am a person, too) have a tendency to pass judgement on each other swiftly and simply, and very often towards the negative end of the spectrum. At Burning Man, on the other hand, the default assumption is positive, or at the very worst just neutral. This bias helps to create an environment that is emotionally open, accepting and freeing. People have no motivation to put up a false front.

If there were a way for us to foster this kind of behavior in the everyday world, I think we would be many steps closer to perfection.


Before I realized what I was doing, I signed myself up for what would become two life-changing events, one after another.

First I decided to attend Burning Man. Although it took place almost a month ago now, I'm still reeling from its after-effects, and unsure how to proceed with my life.

Next I am heading to a 10-day Vipassana meditation course, where I will be immersed in silent meditation most of the time. I've never done anything like this before, and everyone I talk to who has been through it assures me that I won't be the same afterwards.

I'm terrified. But I'm also extremely intrigued. The course starts Monday evening, and for the duration of the class, there is no speaking, reading, writing or pretty much any kind of communication.

Let's hope I can soak it all in, and continue to process everything that has happened in the past month as well.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


"I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way."
~Carl Sandburg

Thanks, Carl. I think that's a good sentiment for today. I'm getting ready to head off on some adventures - Vipassana meditation, and then visiting lots of friends and family in various parts of the country.

Here I go.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Temporary Community and Sustainability

Burning Man is a self-stated experiment in temporary community based on radical self reliance and radical self-expression. It brings people together in the hostile environment of a high desert dry lake bed, and cultivates a culture of art and music for one week each year.

Participants - or citizens of Black Rock City, as the community is known (named after the Black Rock Desert) - are required to bring all of their own water (for drinking, cleaning, bathing), and are also required to remove all of their own grey water (used dishwater, wastewater from showers) from the site. Anything that falls on the ground that wasn't there to begin with (food wrappers, crumbs, thread from your costume, a sequin) is deemed "matter out of place," or MOOP, and must be picked up and carried out. No trash receptacles are provided by the event planners, and citizens must carry out all of their own trash.

I embrace this "leave no trace" aspect of Burning Man, and appreciate that it is an economical and responsible way to run an event like this. Port-a-potties are one of the few things provided by the event (thank goodness). But to require participants to fend for themselves, and to take responsibility for all of their consumables, forces each of us to be more conscious of the impact we have on ourselves, each other and our environment and surroundings.

On the same token, that very aspect reinforces the necessary impermanence of Burning Man. Just to survive for the short period of time I was out on the Playa, I had to carry in approximately 15 gallons of water, showered only sparingly, and washed my dishes as frugally as possible, so that I wouldn't have to lug many gallons of grey water out with me. My water supply was finite, and the space in my car to remove all of my trash and MOOP was limited. By design, Burning Man is a temporary community.

So while Burning Man exhibits so many aspects of perfection on an emotional and interpersonal level, the basic needs for human life limit the extent to which it can be ideal. But the lessons we learn from these limits are useful beyond measure: Simply put, be constantly, vigilantly aware of your direct, humanly impact on this place we call home.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I returned from Burning Man on Tuesday. I am still processing so much, but I wanted to get something out there:

Burning Man is how a perfect would could be.

It's true.

People hug hello, instead of shaking hands.
People accept each other as they are, instead of being judgmental.
People act themselves, instead of putting up a front.
The gift economy dominates.
The art rules.
And everyone smiles and cries together.

I'm working on more, but this is all I can get on the page for now.