Sunday, September 19, 2010

Theme for an Imaginary Western - part 5

Click to enlarge (then click the picture to further enlarge): Temple wall detail...
Temple-take 2, reading my angels and another fortune

As the days pass, I am really feeling lonely. Painfully. I am having a lot of trouble with it. Still loving the whole experience, but lonely...

The veterans have other veterans, Lesbian ladies have "Camp Beaverton (a home for wayward girls)", Our 'flexible' friends have the 'Gender Bender' camp.

Where does this wayward soul go?

So, I'm hanging out with people in these large groups, feeling uncomfortable, and very often I don't even say anything for the longest time...

I was at the 'Super Friends' across the street, and after not saying a single word for maybe 45 minutes, I felt like I got the idea, and so I got up and said, "well, I'll be running along". 'Quiet' then says - sounding a little disappointed - "oh, do you have to go?". That was quite lovely, made me feel good and it also bent reality a little for me, because it meant 'we'd like you to stay even though you're not entertaining us'.

I left anyway.
...let's face it - Rome wasn't built in a day.....

TEMPLE - part deux:
The other day when Reklaw (from across the street at 'More Fun, Less Suck') gave me the fortune cookie I mentioned, I opened it and revealed the following fortune:

...and so I resolved that my Temple post of gratitude would be about my dear friends.

I decided I would actually list people - alphabetically, and I thought about the list very hard, spending an entire evening on it. The newest friend is someone I very recently met, and the oldest non-family member is someone I've known for 47 years. Also my mother - who passed away in 1985 - my nephew, and my sister and her husband are included.

It was a careful process. I set down important criteria about who could be on the list. It had to do with the person's integrity, and what they brought out in me, or amplified in me, maybe how they had 'had my back', or experiences that we shared. Some knew my father, now dead for 45 years - more knew my mother. A couple have passed on, some are out of touch. Some are superb musicians...

All are great friends.

Also, there were reasons why some folks who were once great friends could not be on this list, and so I regretfully omitted those names. Also there are people I wish I could list, but I haven't gotten to know them as well as I'd like, and likely never will.

But the list is right.

I composed the prose very carefully. I poured over my memory and lists of contacts to make sure I hadn't left anybody out, and I contemplated each person included. It also gave me a chance to reflect on the future...who might I not yet know? - someone who isn't yet, but will be, on the list...

After I went out to the temple and wrote my message, I shared this post on Facebook for them to know they were remembered and loved:

As I thought about it last night, I decided I wanted to write something more, and something more positive. So before dinner I borrowed a sharpie from a person at the next camp, and this morning - at first light - I set out for the Temple once again, and when I arrived I wrote the following:

'When I arrived here a women gave me a fortune cookie....It said: "Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are." with this burn I commemorate deep and abiding friendship with my love and gratitude:
Alecia, Andy, Damion, Danny, Gary, Jack, Lake, Laura, Lucy (RIP), Mitchell, Murray, Pickens, Robert, Saraswati, Sevgi, Simon, Tom A., Tom B., Tom P., Tony (RIP) and Whit.

Reed Robins - 9/2/2010'

Click to enlarge (then click the picture to further enlarge): 'Reed's friends' detail..

Following the temple visit, I resumed a search of sorts. I have been looking for Mara.

My friend Alecia, having read on Facebook about my challenges with loneliness and connection, has been encouraging me in her comments to contact a friend of hers who is at Burning Man named Mara. I have gone looking for Mara's camp a few times and not been able to find it, and today was no exception. It has devolved to me just walking around in the vicinity where she's known to be camping, walking up to random people and saying "Do you know Mara?". Next person: "Do you know Mara?". I'm starting to think the search is futile...

So, after abandonment of today's search, and feeling the pinch of that lonely feeling, I happen upon the following sign as I am walking down the road:

I think, 'what the heck, who doesn't want to know about their angels anyway?' I decide to walk over.

The woman who is doing the readings is sitting there next to her vintage 1961 trailer all alone, and she is quite attractive. Her name is Ava, and she speaks with a strange accent. I asked her where she is from, but while I don't remember her answer (Canada maybe?), I can say it doesn't fit the accent, so there's more to her story....

We talked about why I am here at Burning Man for a minute, and then she goes into the reading. All told, it takes about 30 minutes.

She gave me some background on her beliefs about the angels who purportedly follow us and help us. It's not the first time I've heard this.

Anyway, she starts by telling me that when I see a rainbow - actual or representational, or just the colors of - my mother is around. There had been a fairly impressive rainbow after a hard rainstorm the previous day (a rare event on the playa), she may have that in mind:

Then, somewhat of out of the blue, she gets very intense: "Your mother did the best that she could, you know that don't you?"
"I know" I say.
(I'm thinking 'can we take this down a notch?', but as she ups the ante, it's hard not to get swept away...)
Growing even more intense, she says - pretty emphatically: "I want you to know that your mother did all she could." "Things were different…what they knew…"
"I understand", I say, gently interrupting.

...this is getting a little uncomfortable...

Then she throws her head back to concentrate, thinks for a minute - maybe more - and actually sheds tears as she fans her face in that way people do when they're trying to hold it together. Then she looks me over slowly from head to toe...."You are so weighted down, It's like your feet are chained to the earth, you can't fly." (Points to my feet) "You need to unchain yourself."
"You have to realize that when you are with people you are giving them a special gift." "Only you can give this gift. It's very special." Her language circles back to this repeatedly as she continues to talk. She pauses often and checks to make sure I'm taking it all in.

"Imagine your presence in other people's lives as a gift to them"....

Angels or no angels...this feels pretty heavy.

Afterwards we have a very long hug. This is the first real human contact I have experienced since coming to Burning Man, the first time that someone has actually given me the gift of their complete focus. It feels like thirst being quenched, so I want - and ask - to stay....but she has other plans, so we part ways there.

I walk a couple of blocks before I go back and ask to take a picture to at least remember the moment:

It was particularly poignant for me as I walked back to the camp. The experience, basically just a goof at first, had laid me bare.

I felt like a person might feel - parched from thirst, after receiving a single drop of clean cold water...

I decided I'd take the more circuitous Esplanade route back to camp, as I wasn't quite ready to talk to people. I know when I pass 'More Fun, Less Suck' there will be happy, chipper people out there that I'll be snubbing if I don't at least engage a little.

So feeling the need to process all this, I turn the corner onto the esplanade, still pretty far away (1/2 mile?) from our camp and quite preoccupied with my thoughts, and this is who I run into:

It's a city of 50,000 people, but I just 'happen' to run into Reklaw...

After a short greeting and a little small talk, she says to me, "would you like a fortune cookie, or a candy"?

"Yes, thank you, I'll have another fortune cookie."

As I walk away from her, on my way back down the Esplanade, I open the cookie to reveal the contents...

...and this was the fortune inside:


Robert said...

Reed! You're pure Gold my friend. I'm so happy you gave yourself the gift of Burning Man. It could be anywhere ~anytime for courageous people ready to take a you. It's an honor to be counted among your friends. I'm privileged to say I see you in the same light.


Bateaux Francois said...

It is very true that the greatest gift that one can give is the gift of themself. This is a gift that you have given every since that I have been fortunate enough to study with you.You may not have realized it but you have changed many lives for the better.I wish you every happiness that you so rightfully deserve.

Murray Weinstock said...

I have to perform tonight, but I was buzzing around your fortune cookie inspiration and was very honored and moved to be on the temple list. Moved deeply in the best bittersweet way, like a choice progression that demonstrates tension and release. A cherry moment! Thank you for including me as one of your posse. I am glad that you pushed the envelope with the Burning Man. I could see myself there??

Oh and is the girl with that kookie hat? Fortune Cookie?