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Burning Man: The Playa is Bold and Fears Very Little


Photo by Flickr user: Nico Aguilera CC BY 2.0

Trying to write about Burning Man is like being an over stimulated child standing in a room full of brightly coloured balloons floating on the ceiling and trying to choose just one string to grab on to and run with.

The experience of Black Rock City is simply too explosive to properly describe in words. To pin down a few anecdotes or to neatly summarize what Burning Man is, is a mostly fruitless endeavor. For those of you who haven’t been, or don’t really understand what Burning Man is, their website does the best job at breaking down the core principals of the event.

[quote float=”right”]The experience of Black Rock City is simply too explosive to properly describe in words.[/quote]For anyone who has made the journey to BRC, you well know that when you get back to your oh-so unfamiliar default life and get together with long lost friends over beers (and possibly leftover jungle juice) that when someone excitedly asks you the question: “So!!! How was it? Tell me some stories from the Burn!”

Your mind immediately races to a million different thoughts, art installations ridiculous anecdotes, sunsets, sunrises, people, music etc. etc.

Instead of stringing together cohesive ideas and thoughts, you somehow just end up staring at your friend/family member/coworker wide eyed, slightly crazed, and unable to say anything other than to mumble “this or that thing was really sweet” or attempt to accurately recount that night you walked all the way across the playa, got lost in a dust storm on the esplanade and ended up learning how to play the harmonica because you needed to play a funeral march for yourself. Usually whoever you are talking to will respond with a slight smile, maybe a giggle, perhaps even an incredulous stare that indicates they assume you have finally cracked.


Photo by Flickr user: stuartlchambers CC BY 2.0

It’s impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t seen BRC in all her glory why these seemingly insane moments (at least in the retelling) are so unique, deep and transformative.

This is the reason why I’m not going to write about my past time at Burning Man.


Photo by Flickr user: Nico Aguilera CC BY 2.0

Rather, I’m going to write about the impression it leaves on the individual. The things that come away from BRC once the dust has settled.

I’m going to talk about how the playa makes you a better person, how it inspires, how it encourages every participant to be not only the best Burner, but the best human being they can be.

The living organism that is Burning Man spreads far more than dust in to the world.

The sheer amount of uninhibited human creativity on the playa is astounding. From the biggest art installations to the smallest grassroots camps, the vast majority of the people at the Burn have incredible brains that are cooking up all kinds of unexpected delights for the people around them. The surreality, surprise and delight of playa art and interaction goes to show that every day human beings and you, yes YOU can do just about anything we set our minds to.

All people are inherently creative.


Photo by Flickr user: stuartlchambers CC BY 2.0

What keeps us from displaying the far reaches of this creativity we all possess on a day to day basis I would say, generally, is fear of absurdity, competitive drive and obsession with being the “best” at whatever it is we do. The playa has absolutely no fear of absurdity. It provides an atmosphere of low competition and high cooperation.


Photo by Flickr user: Neil Girling CC BY 2.0

The playa is very bold and fears very little.

It’s a lesson we should translate to post playa life. You should try to be fearless when it comes to creating things and sending them off in to the world. Translation to everyday practice: you should not be afraid to take risks, you should not be afraid to try new things, you should not be afraid of failure. In the inevitable event of failure, you should not be afraid to try again.


Because life is very short and very precious and your ideas will eventually disappear in one sense or another.

Why else?

Because you have the capability to do and create greatness in the simple sense that whatever you choose to do or create can improve the world if you choose to make it do so. You can give the world incredible gifts.

BRC expedites the realization that greatness does not lie only in physical creation or the material (physical creations all eventually become ash), it lies in the creative ability we have to make the world a more positive place and to inspire one another by creating the impossible.

14938135677_fa0f4cb0c0_kBurning Man leaves you with a sense of hopelessness; but not in the regular definition of the word. It leaves you hopeless in the sense that you have just undergone such a massive immersion in possibility that you can’t possibly latch on to all the ideas that end up sparking in all corners of your brain.

It is an overwhelmingly inspired place.


Photo by Flickr user: Neil Girling CC BY 2.0

If you now find yourself overwhelmed by inspiration that’s a very good thing. In several weeks or months you will figure out exactly how to grab on to one, two or three ideas and begin executing them.

You know why?

Because you know it’s possible.

Because you friend, are hopeless in the infinite possibility of the world.

To revisit my initial analogy of the over stimulated child in a room full of balloons, take a deep breath, focus, and grab on to some of those strings and hold them tight. Carry them with you everywhere you go.

Bring the playa to the people.

Bring it to work (although I don’t recommend bringing the dust), bring it to school, to the stage, to small interactions with strangers.

Go forth and create magic.

There is no sense in delaying it any longer. You are not getting any younger, the world is not changing through collective apathy. The world can only know change through action, so go ahead and act. I promise that if you do, you will inspire others to follow.

Be honest, be inspiring, make eye contact, smile, be conscious, don’t take yourself too seriously, love deeply, don’t be afraid, be generous in spirit and lead by example.

I promise reality will never be the same for you again. Yes, Burning Man is a physical place we visit for 7 days a year. But,

The lessons learned on the playa can pervade everything if you have the courage to let them.


Photo by Flickr user: John Chandler CC BY 2.0

Check out the next page for some photos taken at Burning Man by a few us here at AYNiB over the past few years. 

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