Burning Man Will Change Your Life As You Know It In These 9 Ways
It happens every year like clockwork. At first it’s a murmur, whispers of Robot Heart, pre-sale tickets, camps, and art cars. Slowly, with each passing day of summer, it gets closer and closer to that mystical week, until people from across the globe flock to this mesmerizing temporary city. At the end of August, deep in the middle of the Nevada desert lies the dusty plain that is Black Rock City. From the depths of the silt comes an ephemeral city, built by the people, to eventually be taken down and rebuilt the following year. Truthfully, Burning Man will change your life in a way that’s hard to expect, control, or fully explain.
I remember the first time I decided to go to Burning Man, I got little to no information about what actually went on, how it would affect me, or what I would see. (Nada, zippo, zilch.) While there is something to be said for going in with zero expectations, I would’ve loved to have known just what I was getting myself into. From the music and art cars, to the MOOP map and the Temple, below is a list of how these wonderful elements of Burning Man will change your life as you know it.
1. The People You'll Meet
One of the best things about this week in the desert is the amount of like-minded, open, creative, loving individuals who make up the community around you. From the strangers who held my hands and spun in a circle belting out Disney classics like "A Whole New World," to the random couple that joined myself and friends on a sunrise journey to the Tree of Ténéré, it goes without saying, the people make the experience. Everyone is in the same boat, thriving on the Playa, which allows for solid relationships that surprisingly last far past Exodus (your depart from Burning Man).
2. The Music You'll Hear
Whether you love pulling all-nighters listening to electronic house pumping out of Mayan Warrior until sunrise, or prefer an orchestra projecting out over center camp, there are plenty of musical wonders to inspire you.
I found that so many of my fondest memories from Burning Man were those that had audio-visual/musical elements, as the mesmerizing music reverberating across the desert really does leave a lasting impact.
3. The Places You'll Bike
The Playa — the dried-up lake bed where Burning Man takes place — is honestly quite a bit bigger than you might think. Needless to say, it's absolutely necessary to have a bike. This mode of transportation is an amazing way to meet new friends and stumble upon unseen art structures. The ability to hop on a bike and find what magic lies just beyond your camp is one of the greatest parts of this wild adventure. It provides you with the freedom of wandering, while soaking up the beauty around you.
4. The Things You'll Feel
While some come for the music, and others for the traditions, I went back to Burning Man because of the things I felt. Walking through the wooden structure of the Temple, you read letters to lost loved ones. You feel the impact of grief, struggle, and loss in an insurmountable way. It really changed the way I felt about my life, my personal struggles, and my loss.
It gives you an appreciation for not only the pain we experience as humans, but also allows you to see that we are all connected through laughter, joy, tears, and pain. The amount of raw emotion and energy that pours out when all societal pressures slip away is what has the power to truly change you and make a lasting impact. The freedom to let go, forgive, love, or forget is what makes Burning Man so powerful.
5. The Things You'll Give
One of the greatest principles ingrained into the burn is the notion of gifting. It speaks volumes and truly changed my experience. As there is no currency, the things you give make a lasting impression.
My first year, my gift was a braid station. While I personally only wear wigs throughout the entirety of the burn, I saw girls constantly struggling to keep there hair out of their faces in the extreme heat. Being able to help and improve someone's experience just by braiding their hair gave me so much powerful, positive energy that I carried with me throughout.
6. The Things You'll Receive
There is a saying from Burning Man that is, "The playa will provide." This basically explains the concept that whatever it is you want or need is readily available to you. The playa is a place of abundance and it takes care of you.
When I first heard about this concept, I truly didn't understand what any person could mean by that phrase when talking about the middle of the desert, but of course, I stood corrected. Much to my shock, within the first few hours of my first burn, I understood.
A girlfriend who I was with quickly realized her throat wasn't taking to kindly to the dry and dusty conditions. No more than a minute after mentioning it to me, a random person biking by stopped and asked if we would like any throat lozenges. What?!
7. The Outfits You'll Wear
This was and still is one of my favorite parts about Burning Man, because for me, it's a time to be the most creative. You can do, wear, and be whoever you want to be. It really is a time to let your inner-child playing dress-up shine.
People spend months preparing their outfits, not because it's a big showy affair, but because you get to channel whoever and whatever you want. It's freeing and an amazing form of expression. My first year I made my costumes from scratch. I was a Galactic Chameleon, morphing from black to white through color every day. It was one of the best parts for me.
Along with the outfits you'll wear, you will develop a Playa name which is essential your alter ego at Burning Man. It's this fascinating concept that you are whoever you want and need to be that week, with the outfits to match.
8. The Art You'll See
It wouldn't be Burning Man without the incredible effort of artists from around the world creating structures, sculptures, and everything in between. The art is absolutely mind-bending and eye-opening on every level. From interactive pieces you can climb, to a sonic runway that turns audio signals into a light show, the pieces found on the Playa are awe-inspiring.
9. The Experiences You'll Never Forget
At the end of the day, only you can control the ultimate experience you have at Burning Man. If you go there chasing the hottest party, or trying to find the "coolest" places, you will inevitably end up with more FOMO than you know what to do with.
Burning Man offers experiences, encounters, and moments that aren't available anywhere else on the planet. If you bring with you an open mind, a gracious heart, and a wild spirit, it will change you. The experiences will seem like a mystical dream that come back to you in day-to-day life, reminding you to stay present or be kind.
One of these experiences for me was at the Temple burn (pictured above). This happens the last night of Burning Man, and was one of the most humbling and chilling moments of my life. A massive crowd of people sat together in complete silence and watched as this monumental structure that held so many emotions, wildly burned, crackled, and smoked into the night sky.
Everyone goes into Burning Man with a slightly different intention and mindset, but all I know is if you let it, Burning Man will positively reshape that way you see the world.