On the worst night of Burning Man, I stood alone in the deep playa, looked out across the fluorescent landscape and said aloud to myself, “It’s over.”
I thought of myself back in May, telling anybody who would listen “We don’t have a single plan after Burning Man!” I was so proud of my own fearlessness and so excited to see what would become of the unknown. But in that moment, the unknown suddenly took on an entirely different meaning. Burning Man was no longer the distant future. It was undeniably, entirely and obviously the present. Everything the future held— the endless unknown— scared me deeply.
I beheld the low, colourful skyline of Black Rock City once more, through tear-blurred vision, and thought, “I am at the end of something beautiful. And the end is beautiful.”
Thoughts such as these troubled me near-constantly for the first few days of Burning Man, to the point where I checked myself into the nearest medical tent for some mental first aid. My worry about what I was going to do after the event ended was amplified by the presence of our camp-mates. They were all lovely people, but they all had well-paying, career-shaping jobs. None of them had to worry about being broke and homeless. I felt like there was nobody around whom I could make comforting “haha, we sure are screwing up our lives” jokes with. Besides Adrian, of course, but he got along easily with our new friends and didn’t quite understand why it bothered me so much.
The Black Rock City counselling services did wonders, though. I’m proud to report that I haven’t had a single emotional breakdown since talking to the ranger. It’s now more than a week after Burning Man has ended and we still don’t really have any idea what the future holds. We might be hanging out in Oregon, or we might be working on a sailboat bound for New Zealand (actually).
The adventures aren’t going to end, so neither is this blog. We’ve had a crazy week that I can’t wait to write about and I think I might be posting mass thank yous with lists of everyone who gave us rides and places to stay soon. Maybe I’ll even write some blog fluff top 10’s and travel tips and stuff like that. What I’m saying is… to everyone who has followed this blog, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! You people give me purpose. I like you, so stick around 🙂
2 thoughts on “Burning Man Part Three: The End”
Dear Allie and Adrian,
The introspective baring of your soul with your inner thoughts is liberating.
The spectacle that is Burning Man combines the sci-fi anarchy of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, the beyond morality orgies of Federico Fellini’s Satyricon, and the apocalyptic vision of Wim Wenders Until the End of the World.
You made your way through the chaos, and reached the end of a first quest, only to find yourselves even better equipped for the next adventure. Like the end of John Fowles’ The Magus, you arrive at the end knowing yourself better, and realizing that you are at the beginning all over again.
You have new skills, new friends, and a closer bond with your soulmate and traveling companion. Barbara’s first long road trip at 19 years old to San Francisco with multiple detours along the way was like yours, totally liberating in knowing what other adventures we could have in life. The end was just a beginning, seeking our next of a series of life adventures.
Your photo on your back with the North sign has an uncanny resemblance to one of Barbara on her back on a tatami matt in her Book 2, the same serene and Zen-like smile, and matching facial features, nothing matters except the contentment of the present moment. The adventures continue, and get even better.
Safe and exciting journeys,
PS- I am planning a road trip to Barbara’s places in Utah in October, if you are anywhere nearby, we can meet up.
There will always be the inevitable crash at the end of a random, magnificent journey – a time to pause and reflect. It’s also the beginning of the next journey. Whether you land in New Zealand, Oregon, or a yet unknown destination (even Vancouver), you’ll view life through different eyes. Decisions decades from now will be subconsciously influenced by the resilience and passion you have experienced over the past several months. I’m incredibly proud of you guys for making it all the way, on what seemed like an impossible journey, given your resources.