In hindsight, one might say I am lucky I survived the last couple of days unharmed. Little did I know about the things my mind and body were going to endure when I boarded the plane in Manila, Philippines, three weeks ago. When I touched down in San Francisco, after what seemed like eternal 30 hours of flying, waiting, and more flying and waiting, I embarked a spiral of craziness.
A small group of adventurous, lunatic people, crammed in a SUV, went up the never ending I-5 up California to Bend, Oregon, on the search for the path of totality of the solar eclipse that was about to cover parts of the US – or as we called it: The Path. We found it. And it was magical. We witnessed roughly 52 seconds of totality. Words cannot describe what we saw. We were in awe, stumbled, cried, screamed and hugged. 20 hours on the road for 52 seconds of magic? Worth it. But this was just the beginning of what started off as the best weeks of my life.
Back in Berkeley, the next day was reserved for last minute preparations (I was not prepared) and resting (we did not rest), before we took off on another endless drive. 15 hours later, we find the entry to Black Rock City, Nevada, or as it its aptly called: the playa (beach in Spanish, in case you did not know that already), about 12 miles east of Gerlach, where the pavement ends and the dust begins – it’s not a beach, it’s a desert. We enter BRC as the first rays of sun – now fully visible again – kiss the horizon and our faces. Welcome home.
This is the place where I decide to jump and plummet down the rabbit hole to face the many locked doors that I had closed myself, mentally and emotionally. The fall is long, long, long, and the impact hurts. I wake up to an Alice-esque tableau. „One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small.“ Is this my chance to escape reality or is it my first step towards it? „If you don’t know where you’re going any road will take you there.“ Right, Lewis Carroll, tell that to a German, me, the walking stereotype of organization, structure and rules. I abandoned all that and threw myself down the rabbit hole. What I found after the long haul flights all around the globe – unlike Alice – was not a room with closed doors, but a place with a lot of open hearts. All living organisms on earth are constantly engaged in the search for a better world. Human or not, they are trying to upgrade their situation. My journey down the rabbit hole is not an escape from reality but rather a venture into my most authentic self. An ongoing trial and error period to improve my life. My journey is the tale of what has become a rather remarkable adventure. My search has brought me here. I found a better world. I found a better me.
Burning Man is a playground for grownups. Sex, drugs, techno and alcohol are ubiquitous. If that is not enough fun for your taste, rest assured that there is no lack of other activities – you can engage in daytime workshops, shows, or just walk into a camp to talk to random strangers and enjoy their company, food and drinks. The playa always provides. You just have to be open minded and not afraid to say ‚yes‘ once in a while. The playa changed me. It is hard to fathom the vibe of the city and even harder to put it into words. The deserted fantasy world that I entered when I fell into the rabbit hole and was not a dream. I did not wake up. I am wide awake – although I barely slept. Burning Man is a world in which the imagination runs amok. It is a place where you figure out your limits, where you encounter your desires you didn’t know you had, a place that gives you a life changing hug that you didn’t know you needed.
There is an end to this experience though. When you look up and see a chrome shower head pouring hot water over your body for the first time in two weeks, when you see the playa dust running down the drain, you know you’ve returned to reality. The default world welcomed me with a warm embrace. It is the starting point of my mind’s awakening, to take all my experiences with me and spread the love and virtues of Burning Man. This is a first step of many more to come.