Oh, and dear Mom and Dad, it’s prolly not a good idea for you to read this, but I love you.
Onto the post …https://www.youtube.com/embed/NDH1bGnNMjw?wmode=opaque
After months of planning (two to be exact), multiple panic attacks (which I am very proud that I can now talk myself out of), and countless questions with answers like “it’s like seeing color for the first time, you’re not going to understand Burning Man until you actually experience it.”
For the last almost decade I’ve received invite after invite for Burning Man. The very basic concept of Burning Man is that it’s a community that appears for a week (and some change) on a dried lake basin and operates solely on a gifting/ bartering system.
Bartering is my jam. I’m naturally a giver and helper, so that’s a no brainer … but also being an entrepreneur, in 2009 I IMMEDIATELY saw the value of social media and without a quantifiable monetary value attached, I started bartering social media as a way to live. My lowest hanging fruit in terms of sales was everyone (since it was so new), and if I liked their product, I would ask for food, clothing, shelter, or shout out in exchange for teaching them how to use the platforms themselves. (I executed “influencer marketing” before it was a thing.)https://player.vimeo.com/video/248596367?wmode=opaque
With that as my baseline mentality you would think Burning Man is totally my peanut butter, and fluffernutter, right?
The people that I was/ am personally and professionally involved with in tech talked about it in the DOUCHEST way. See this video below which hits the NAIL ON THE HEAD!!! https://www.youtube.com/embed/8e1OEqrdIxY?wmode=opaque
I’m not that kind of person. I genuinely did what I did out of spending a lifetime being the one in class, in the family, and at work fixing and explaining various forms of technology in a VERY simple way that everyone could understand. During this time, I knew people that charged up to $12K to SET UP a Twitter page (NO STRATEGY JUST SETTING UP A FUCKING PAGE) – and it lit me up like a Christmas tree.
I felt like they were taking advantage of people and these SAME personality types were the ones that were going on and on about how “incredible” this society is, and how it was “unlike any other experience any human being could EVER experience.” All that I knew from my perspective about any “world that they created” was something I did NOT want to be a part of.
The off the chart douchefactor aside, did I also mention that I don’t like crowds? Pardon the comparison (I know this will upset some Burners), but back in 2013 I had a sponsored trip to Coachella by JBL. I rode in an RV with Thomas Hawk, Robert Scoble, Sam Levin, Chris Voss, and had an all expense paid trip to the festival (including hotel, per diem and VIP passes).
We were asked to post about our experiences and if you notice on all of the Facebook posts I made, none of them HAD ANYTHING to do with the actual show …
I wasn’t interested in Coachella AT. ALL.
I instead told a narrative around the JBL swag bag and gave all of it away (due to one part being on the very generous receiving end of this community and one part a marketer and saw the value in exposure vs needing more “things.”) …
I make it a habit to go left anytime everyone else is going right. I either have an extra chip or am missing a chip but the concept of FOMO doesn’t exist in my brain.
I don’t have a fear of missing out, I instead create my own reality (typically with very few people existing in it). Had there been a band I was interested in at Coachella that year, I more likely than not would have seen their set … but from a far far away distance (or front row – I operate in polarities – it’s my personality type)…
I made it a point to show up on festival grounds to introduce myself to everyone working the booth (they had previously taken us to a dinner with the executives) but then quickly about faced it back to the (FAR MORE EMPTY) hotel where I laid by the pool …
… and then watched the sunset from my room because obvi.
I like what I like and I do what I do, so why on Earth would I choose to put myself in a position that would LITERALLY leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere for an ENTIRE WEEK without cell service, wifi, or any assistance of any kind from the outside world?
1) Because it ABSOLUTELY PETRIFIED ME.(I’ve from a personal perspective been working on actually letting things go particularly with work, and there was no better way to do that than to be “forced” off the grid.)
2) Because my actual friends are awesome and they were the ones that invited me this year (and I trust how smart they are in knowing what they are doing with drugs. You do a lot of them at Burning Man, FYI and I’ve only done them a handful of times and would by know means trust myself to know what I’m doing. Read here and here).
Also, I noticed subconsciously that I kept using the phrase “I just want to burn it” over and over. My dog has had really bad food allergies on and off for the last year and as anyone who knows what that life experience is like, it makes everything the dog touches smell. Present party included! My couches, chairs, clothing … I was ready to get rid of all three anyway, but was also balancing out the fiscal responsibility in doing so.
I’d come home from work, or smell a pair of pants that Buster had been laying on (that I had been wearing) and shout, I JUST WANT TO BURN EVERYTHING!!!!!! It’s not his fault that he has this issue, and as his mom there’s not a snowballs chance in hell that I would let it affect any level of affection received on his part.
The invitation was great, but it was the subconscious part that got my attention. I remember people saying over the years that the “Burn calls you,” and “you’ll know when you need to answer.”
Having also felt burned out with work (with two big projects coming to an end and another very large one beginning) – I recognized how exhausted I’ve been and wanted to avoid a repeat of the episode I had last year.
I haven’t taken a vacation longer than a few days in close to four years, and I wasn’t okay with that. Sure the timing couldn’t have been more horrific, but if I was truly focused on letting things go with work, and taking better care of myself personally – this would theoretically be a no brainer.
I wasn’t sure, and all I knew was that as the weeks went on, my panic grew worse and worse. I operate from a logical capacity. If someone can explain something to me, and I can do a little research, I can at least partially wrap my brain around something and learn to not be scared of it.
<tangent> Riding along with a Vegas taxi cab driver between the hours of 4-6 am?Scary, but I also sent a photo of the driver’s license to my friend and (hoped) my legs could run fast enough if I needed to get away.
Crashing the Grammy Awards?Scary, but also knew my worst case scenario was paying a fine and sitting in a jail cell for trespassing. (I also saw the value in leveraging that into some sort of publicity – if I wasn’t the person who crashed the Grammy Awards, I could be the person that failed at crashing.)
The list can go on, but you all know most of these stories and I won’t bore you. </tangent>
The more that I researched the Burn, the less that felt like I understood. Friends tried to be of assistance, but again, coming from a logical capacity hearing that “the Burn will be what you need the Burn to be” didn’t help.
Besides, just because I made the decision to go to the Burn, didn’t actually mean that I had any sort of ticket. Did I mention how difficult tickets are to get? (I actually learned that they release 50,000 tickets to any sort of “camp” that creates art … tell you more about that in a second … and the other around 30,000 to people who just want to attend.)
It’s an absolutely GENIUS way to create supply and demand. The people that are creating the art are providing the spectacle for the Burners, and those that want to Burn (but aren’t providing the visuals) have to work for it in their own way. No matter what everyone has to pay a base price (around $400 but on scalping sites can go as high as $2K), but that type of demand generates brilliant and FREE MARKETING (particularly in social media).
Excuse me but I’m feeling a little …
Just kidding, that part didn’t cum until later.
At the end of July, my girlfriend said there was a fundraiser for the Burn camp we would be attending. “We can see if they can get you a ticket,” she said over text. “But they have to meet you in person.”
See, Burning Man is all about the people you spend it with. Everyone has these “camps” that can range from 4 people to hundreds. This particular camp had around 70-80, which is good because if you have more than that you run the risk of your camp being searched by LE aka law enforcement.
<tangent> Burning Man also has their own “code” – LE being one of them. Here’s a glossary should you care to explore.</tangent>
I can’t say I was surprised to learn this, but cops (undercover and otherwise) are everywhere at Burning Man.
I don’t know exactly if that’s why they have camps, but it does provide (at least psychologically) a bit of protection.
To be a part of a camp I needed to:
1) Have an in with a friend (I had an in with three).
2) Go through an “interview process” (mine was done face to face).
3) And I had to send them my links in social media.
Do I think it filters all LE out? Probably not, but I think that people reveal plenty (especially in person when on drugs … you are also instructed to not bring certain people back to the camp … more on that later) but I do admire at least some sort of preventative measure to keep the rif raff out.
I passed the “interview process” with flying colors …
… and a few days (and $400 something) later,the “playa provided” in the form of a ticket from the head of the camp.
One part of me was ABSOLUTELY elated, and the other part was still terrified. A ticket in hand meant that this life experience was now actually going to happen …
Work, work, I thought using work as my LAST REMAINING HOPE TO STAY IN MY OWN COMFORT ZONE.
Why not invite fear to make itself right at home … I’d happily make up a nice couch (hopefully smell free)… I can cook a lovely dinner … wine!! I even have wine!!!
I wish I could say this sentence is true …
… but I knew if I was this afraid of ANYTHING that I had to charge directly towards it with ALL FEAR ASIDE WHICH IS LIKE REALLY HARD TO DO!!!
The Monday before Burning Man, I let my company know that I was actually going to Burning Man.
This is what I sent …