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Burning Man, or how to change yourself and your world in 10 days

They say if you haven’t cried from stress at Burning Man, then you haven’t gone through the baptism by fire. It’s a test that not everyone can pass.

Why did I decide to go to Burning Man?

In the days leading up to the festival, I slept less than six hours per night. I tried to fit everything into 24 hours so that I could calmly take 10 days off work.

My goal at Burning Man was to look at everything I do, all of my beliefs – to see the flaws and narrow-mindedness and get rid of the excess baggage, like a rocket detaching from a booster, breaking through the atmosphere. To understand the culture of this place.

At every stage of life, certain laws of physics apply, and specific beliefs are required to break through the ceiling. But once you leave the atmosphere, other laws come into effect, and what worked well before starts to hinder you.

That’s why I chose to immerse myself in the context of this festival. I intentionally went there alone, so as not to view what was happening through the prism of my friends’ or family’s worldview. The task was to understand everything as it is.

Mission of Burning Man

The mission of the project is to hold annual events, create a community that unleashes people’s creative abilities, engages them in society, and connects them to the natural world.

The organizers of the event believe that participating in Burning Man can lead to positive spiritual changes in the world. Burning Man is inclusive and accessible to everyone.

This event has been held annually since 1986 and is entirely created by the hands of its participants. Everything is based on its mission and principles. It is one of the coolest examples of self-organization that I have seen. This is the place where I call the birthplace of the coolest business cultures, such as Google, Tesla, SpaceX, etc.

What is the meaning of Burning Man?

One of the meanings that, in my opinion, Burning Man carries is to forget about all material things, to stop comparing and doing things to fit someone else’s expectations of you.

We don’t know what the next technological discovery for humanity will be. Before the discovery of the world of microbes, people performed surgeries without washing their hands. Yes, some nationalities washed, but it was part of a religious ritual, and as soon as the world of microbes was accidentally discovered, the survival rate on the operating table increased significantly.

How many more areas of our ignorance will overturn the earthly representation of how the universe exists in the future? The problem is that humanity only solves the problems it sees. Until it sees a problem, it doesn’t solve it.

Ultimately, all technologies are created to make money. Humanity directs material resources into those areas of science that potentially can bring competitive advantages, profit, but there is a lot that we don’t know.

In my view, this temporary city of Burning Man is a good opportunity for humanity to look at the world through the prism of other values, to pull its head out of the sand of imposed good and bad, valuable and invaluable, to see something in a different color, fundamentally new.

Daily life at the festival

Every day, when I left my house, I always took with me goggles, a mask, eye and nose drops, even if there was no storm at the moment. Sandstorms here start unexpectedly, and it’s very uncomfortable without the necessary protection.

The first two days, I explored everything completely alone, met random people, attended workshops, and watched various activities. I remembered a place where everyone was invited to go to the camp and kiss random people, saunas where dozens of people washed together naked on the street, and psychedelic workshops where they talked about how technology changes reality and our beliefs.

The first two days of Burning Man taught me not to cling, to move forward – a chance encounter, an art object, a dance floor – you try it, and as soon as you feel the wave, you move forward.

It’s as if somewhere in this desert I understood that our life is an abundance of opportunities. But sometimes I don’t understand this and try to cling to a state, time, place, situation to hold onto something.

Here, the conclusions from Vipassana came to mind and overlaid on this new reality. Everything is endless changes. And to be in balance, you need to stop clinging to anything, become an observer, see the good and bad as code, like ones and zeros.

Vipassana and Burning Man complement each other very well. I meditated during the festival for at least 2 hours every day. It helped to ground the experience and cope with the heat and lack of sleep.

By removing all expectations of how I wanted to spend my time, who to meet, I accidentally ended up at incredible events and parties, met old friends I hadn’t seen in over 3 years. It was especially amazing to meet among the 70,000 citizens of Black Rock City people who I missed so much.

It was interesting to see the surroundings through the eyes of friends who were not here for the first time. There is an unwritten rule here – don’t judge anything, observe and if you don’t like something, just move forward. Perhaps that’s why no matter where you are, you feel free.

People here opened up to me in a different way. Everyone has similar goals, ready to hang out day and night, endure the heat and dust, regardless of status, income level, or education. Here, everyone is family and equal.

Here, people are ready and willing to help each other, even if you’re a stranger. Everyone traditionally brings gifts here. If someone didn’t bring gifts, they give smiles, hugs, and do something for you. They also do something useful for the entire community of 80,000 people.

Around me, there are thousands of art objects, each of which is built with meaning: something reminds you of the value of relationships, something reminds you of what you have now and what you have achieved, and something reminds you that we, humans, create problems for the place we live.

It turned out that the city has a script. It starts to be built weeks before day X. Each camp has its own scenario – someone makes food, brews coffee (like ours), someone throws parties, pours alcohol, someone builds an orgy dome (so that everyone who wants to can come there to have sex), someone gives lectures, organizes saunas, etc. All of this is free for festival participants. Some people arrive much earlier to build a camp and prepare venues for activities. Some stay after the festival to disassemble and remove everything from the desert without leaving a trace.

I have changed

Burning Man is an unforgettable experience that ranges from love to hate.

It’s a place where you can see people for who they really are, with both their light and dark sides. Before becoming involved with anyone, I would recommend going to Burning Man and seeing them as they truly are before making a decision.

Everyone who attends the festival undergoes a test. There are countless events at night and no fewer during the day, which means people don’t sleep much. During the day, it’s difficult to sleep even if you want to because of the heat. You can hold on for the first few days, but eventually you run out of energy and can no longer pretend to be someone else. You’re left with being yourself – whether that’s light or dark. It’s all visible from the outside.

Burning Man is impressive for its high level of self-organization, despite the differences in motivation and awareness among attendees. The festival levels everyone regardless of status or income level in everyday life. As a citizen of this city, you feel responsible for following the principles and understanding the mission of this place for 10 days. Everyone comes here to create, share, and disconnect in a way that they can’t do anywhere else.

Burning Man is inspiring. The culture of many Silicon Valley organizations has its roots here. Artists, musicians, performers, and people of all creative professions find something of their own in it and, upon returning home, create something that changes the world. I’ve heard that the founders of Google and Elon Musk found inspiration here.

The goal I set for the trip has been accomplished. I leave behind my old self, who clung to situations, people, and events. I accept that the world is full of opportunities, and to be happy, you need to move forward.

“It’s clear that you’ve changed, but how will your old world accept the changed you?”

This was a question I received on my Instagram after sharing my experience at Burning Man.

My answer: I’ve had this happen to me many times. First, you change, then the rest of the world changes with you. That’s when what’s needed comes, and what’s not falls away.

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