Thursday, October 28, 2010

Theme for an Imaginary Western - part 8

My gift to myself/Mara/and the Man burns

Today is the day that the man burns. This should be interesting:

During the day (as directed by my new oracle Reklaw) I head out to the temple one last time to scribe my kind thoughts to myself. This time, I feel I'm prepared to give myself something better. It doesn't come at all naturally though, and I've had to think hard and prepare myself for a fitting turn of phrase.

My angel reader told me to think of myself as God. "God is in the soil, the air, the sunlight.... and in youshe said.

Um, yeah, right.  Lets take this one step at a time…

Here's the best I can do at the moment, written in the precious little space that remains:



I sit down and meditate at the spot where I wrote the sentence, and as I'm doing it there are a lot of music makers in the nearby area. There is a percussionist playing lightly right near me, meditators sit around a man with a singing bowl:

...and a woman plays harmonium and chants over on the other side:

Far in the distance, you hear the rhythms of some techno.

In the midst of this beautiful sonic pastiche, I manage to hold a pretty quiet mind and remain there for about 30 minutes. Afterwards I wander towards the techno, where people are dancing, and in the middle of it all - in the middle of this desert - people are sitting on dusty cushions, hanging out and listening. I LOVE it.  It cleanses the palate for me.

The techno scene:

So, as it happens I've been hanging out at Alecia's friend Mara's camp a bit. As I leave in the afternoon, Mara kindly invites me to come watch the burn with them. It's a very nice and appreciated invitation, and although I want to join them, I'm scared I'll be imposing.

Finally, I decide I'll just show up - despite my misgivings. Plus, there are forecasts of 70 MPH winds, which gives me extra fuel to go over and inform them of the situation.  It feels good to be perhaps helpful, and not just be sponging all the time.

I walk over there.  It's not an insignificant distance (but of course it seems much shorter to people with bikes - which is basically everyone but me).  At the portopottie next to their camp, I run into Mara. "So, are you going home to get ready?" She says.

"I am ready", I counter.

"But where are your long pants?  There's going to be 70 MPH winds!"  (guess they heard) "When the sun goes down it's gonna get cold, do you have a flashlight? Where's your jacket?" All points taken, and I'm thinking it's overkill, but I've been caught unprepared before as you've seen, so I'm certainly not the person to argue.  Plus yes, it's sometimes cold at night - very cold.

As I return to their camp maybe 45 minutes later, they are all gathering for the walk out to the man. There must be 40 of us all totaled. Electricity is in the air throughout all of Black Rock City, and I am feeling the charge of excitement as I wend my way back. People are running to and fro, making last minute preparations.

At camp, a short perky woman named Tabatha is organizing things. It's decided that we'll have a kind of call for if any of us get separated. The call is "CHEEP, CHEEP, CHEEP!". You're supposed to answer back: "NANIE!".

So we get out into the sea of people, and we're all holding hands so that we don't lose each other. I've been talking to a pretty Portuguese woman and her family member, maybe her brother. She and I are hanging out together, taking pictures and walking amongst this large crowd. She seems to like me.

I don't get it...

Seriously though, I see her as a little off of my horizon, being that I'm a lot older than she is, and she lives away from New York, so we'll settle for walking around together tonight:

Nice girl though.  The brother/family member/friend is nice to me (but has limited English skills so we can't converse).  Hmmm, maybe he's not her brother after all....he doesn't seem to hate me.

As we're walking along I can see why the burn was seemingly in jeopardy...the dust is really blowing hard:

(note - top left of the following photo - the man's arms are now pointed skyward, a sign that the burn is imminent):

We get to the man, and where we're going to watch from is pretty close to the action, maybe about 10 'rows' away from front row.

The burn itself is spectacular, with lots of fireworks, and the man topples over and burns in a very hot fireball...

fireworks as the ceremony starts:

As the man is falling:

 Mara watching the burn:

At the end, the perimeter is released, and the feeling is sheer pandemonium:

...and people go running into the middle to dance naked, and just be, next to the fire:

Our group goes off to a dance "club", really a mutant vehicle on the playa that's playing music. People are dancing all around it, including everyone in our group but me -- especially Mara, who seems completely comfortable. At one point she sees how uncomfortable I am:

"You know nobody's watching you right?" "Don't worry about it!"

"I _hate_ dancing" I quickly answer back, without thinking. I know even as I'm hearing the words come out of my mouth that it doesn't bode well for future happiness (mine or anyone else who has to deal with me). Why does everything have to be not fun….for me to enjoy it, I wonder.

Later, I back off into the dark - and OK -  maybe my big toe's wiggling a little bit. Mara dances up to me. She's delighted - "I see you shakin' that ass!" She says:

Yeah,'ll have to be small steps and shakes for me tonight in the darkest part of the 'room'. I can't handle anything else it would seem. I admire people who can dance without compunction. The only other person in my shoes is the Portuguese woman's brother/family member/friend, who is still doing much better than I am.

I guess I have additional work to do...I gotta start making a list...

The call sounds out: "CHEEP, CHEEP, CHEEP!"…. looks like it's time to go.

We form a conga line and go around the fire. Sure enough, there are naked people all over the place taking in the warmth. It is just amazingly hot there, so much so that I am rubbing the side of my face that is towards the fire so that I can cool it off just a bit. A man gets in behind me, naked, and breaks our line. I'm not happy about that. He doesn't have the right vibe. He feels like one of the 'yahoo crowd'.

Either because of that or for some other reason, we lose the rest of the people, and we can't find them in crowd anywhere:

CHEEP, CHEEP, CHEEP?......................


CHEEP, CHEEP, CHEEP?????......................

Nothing.  So after a search we set out alone, first to find portapotties, and then to go to another place. There's just five of us left, Mara, two other woman, a guy dressed like the Indian in The Village People (...with less than a loincloth on, why is this guy not cold?) and me.

As we're walking through the open playa, I realize that I'm losing my energy in a big way, partly because we seem to be moving so slowly (the other two girls are seriously straggling and I'm a New Yorker....not a fan of super slow walks).  But, it is nice to have a moment to talk a little more in depth with Mara finally.

We meet - by chance - some folks who are friends of some of the others we lost, and it's looking like we'll be able to find them and rejoin our group...yet... momentum is slowing, I'm finally realizing I'm beat enough that I need to go home. I'm guessing they will be dancing all night.

Amazing spectacle - this burn. It seems to mean different things to different people, but the hardcore seem to be reveling in a kind of ritualistic ecstasy that is somehow elemental. That therapist from the last part might have asked "Where do you get your ritualistic ecstasy?" I don't -- no dancing, no rituals... I just don't.

The 'yahoo' crowd is just a pain in the ass.  Part of me thinks these are the same people who come in from New Jersey to scream at the top of their lungs directly under my window at 3 o'clock in the morning.  WOOOOOOO!!!

Serious folks, enough is enough.

…and it's hard to believe they let people get so close. It seems a little dangerous.  But dangerous in a cool way.  Burning Man is dangerous...I like that.

As I drift off to sleep, the city pounding it's rhythms out  - sounding like an perpetual, highly grooving earthquake, I think to myself that I'm looking forward to the temple burn tomorrow…

1 comment:

DhammaSeeker said...

Thank you. Thank you! Thank you for writing your story. I stumbled across your blog at just the right time it seems. This week as the weather turned chilly here in Denver I was having some more symptoms of playa withdrawal. A distinct emotional vulnerability, if you will, for a lack of things with heart and authenticity. Your Burning Man posts to date (which I read this morning) made me laugh, made me well up, and will be fuel aplenty to keep the fire burning on the inside. I look forward to whatever future installments may come! Namaste!