Stuff I learned at Burning Man

I got back from Burning Man the other day. This was my third Burn. (For more on my second Burn in 2009, click here and here.)

It was tough this year. It was a lot of work, and I had to face some obstacles. I don’t regret going, but I could use a vacation to recover.

With obstacles, come learning and growth opportunities (if done correctly). Here’s a little of what I learned at Burning Man this year:

1. Shit happens. Good, bad, stuff that appears bad but is actually good – it all just happens. Sometimes there is no one to blame or to thank. The playa giveth and the playa taketh away. There may or may not be any reason or hidden message behind it. The trick is to roll with it and respond in such a way that you get where you need to go.

2. Work doesn’t do itself. When it’s 35C (95F) outside, and the plan is to get 6 more domes up before sundown, then get some water and electrolytes and grab a tool. Figure out what has to be done first and do that. Find out what has to be done next and do that. No sense in crying about it.

3. Take breaks. No sense in killing yourself over this stuff.

4. Put sunscreen everywhere. The sun is not very selective about where it shines. This includes parts that may dangle out of shorts while sitting cross-legged. (And ladies: parts that may dangle in loose-fitting shirts.)

5. When people gather from all over the world for a week of fun together, it’s best to appreciate the immediacy and impermanence of the experience. Enjoy it now. Love the people now, in this moment. You may never see them again. The playa giveth, and the playa taketh away. This happens in the Default World, too. Enjoy what you have right now – you never know how long you will have it.

6. When a pretty girl thinks you’re sexy and wants to make out with you, don’t argue. Moisten those lips and start smooching.

6a) When the unexpected happens, whether good or bad, our first instinct is to ask “why.” Why did my friend just take off and leave me stranded? Why did a stranger just hand me an ice cold beer and walk away? Why does this pretty girl think I’m sexy and want to make out with me? Sometimes we’ll never know why. The thing is, it happened, it is happening, and now all I can do is respond.

7. Sometimes when someone wants to argue, there’s no sense in trying to make peace. Saying something or not saying something, apologizing or defending, it makes no difference. They want to yell at you for something they’re feeling. Sometimes all you can do is let them vent until they’re done.

8. There is more than one way to get to Reno. Pick one and go. There is no perfect route.

9. If you don’t want to lose something, label it and lock it. You could be at the International Convention of Monks Against Theft. Lock it up anyway.

10. When aforementioned pretty girl finds another sexy man to spend time with, appreciate the gift of time already spent together, let go and move on. (See also points 5 and 6a above.)

11. The body changes in the desert. Don’t just eat and drink what you’re used to consuming. Eat and drink what the body is asking for right now. Sometimes that isn’t much of anything. Gatorade and beef jerky are great in the desert.

12. When you’re feeling really hot but not sweating, ask for help immediately. I was lucky to have 3 nurses and an icepack within reach. (Yes, we had icepacks in the middle of the desert. Chalk that up to foresight, a fridge and a solar panel.)

13. Throw all those petty grievances and resentments into the fire. You don’t need them any more. Burn it all. And then there is only gratitude and joy.

14. Who I’m choosing to be right now is more important than what’s happening to me. If I want to attract the right people and circumstances, I better get really focused on who I am and what I’m choosing.

15. Life is hard sometimes. It’s hard to make perfect choices. It seems like, no matter what you do, someone won’t like it. We’re all doing the best we can with what we got. We’re all trying. So, cut some slack. Recognize that people are doing their best, even if they aren’t doing what you think they should be doing. Recognize that you’re doing your best as well, even if you’re not getting all the results you want. Forgive and let live. Be gracious. Be compassionate. You deserve a break and so do others.

16. Everyone has love to give. Give them a chance to show it, and you will be surrounded by love.


About Craig

Craig lives in Calgary, Alberta.
This entry was posted in growth. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Stuff I learned at Burning Man

  1. Amy says:

    Love it, thank you. Sage reminders/blessons. Have heard about Burning Man for years and appreciate this account. 🙂 Take care.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s