The Bucket List:
By: Sue Pace
Sometimes we think we might be missing something, or that life is passing us by. So we think about what it is we want to do, to put that thought to rest.
So we create a “bucket list”, and put all the exciting, crazy, outlandish, and sometimes impossible activities that we think we should not pass through this life without doing or experiencing. For example: safari’s, bungi jumping, hang gliding, para sailing, riding a motor bike, 500 mile bike rides, visiting every NP, hiking the Grand Canyon and much more.
Last year in 2009, we decided that the Albuquerque Balloon Festival was due to come off the list. We joined a fun loving group of Boomer friends, and parked very close to the festival enjoying happy camaraderie, crewing for balloon owners, and many even got free rides, up, up, and away in a beautiful balloon. Sometimes these desires to “do it all” come up short of our expectations. This happened to one of our members, who was accidentally thrown out of his balloon on his free ride, and landed him in rehab for over a year. Some wishes are not without consequences. Watching this accident, took most of the joy out of being at the festival for me, and taking a balloon ride quickly got removed from my bucket list. No free ride for me. But Ken could put his fear aside and took his free ride up in Felix the Cat, and had an uplifting experience. (Excuse the pun).
So the list got a little shorter and we began to think about WHAT TO DO IN 2010 ?
Ken had the BURNING MAN FESTIVAL on his list for many years, so it went to the top of the list.
This news comes from Ken and Sue Pace , reporting on their recent experience of attending the event of Burning Man 2010. We had heard some wild and crazy things about this Burning Man Festival. , mostly not so good, so we did some research of our own and decided that, yes, it was something worth experiencing at least once in a lifetime. Of course it would have been better in our 30’s, but it’s like being in our Boomer group, where it’s all in your spirit. So, on the last day the tickets were selling, we bit the bullet, and bought them at the price of $320.00 each. Now this is for 6 days, boondocking, in the driest place in the country, the Black Rock Dry Lake Playa, in the Nevada desert. We have to bring all our supplies, and food, and come with an open and un-judging mind, We joined in with over 47,000, people, and helped create an active, cohesive city for 6 days. Nothing can be sold after entering the area. The festival only provides ICE AND COFFEE. If you need something, you will have to barter for it, or have it gifted to you by a willing neighbor. Everyone is generous to a point, and each “village” has its own agenda and mind set.
The festival is organized to a point, but with few “rules” and it is the most amazing gathering of happy, kind, fun loving people since the garden of good and evil.
Throughout this story, the ***** will tell you the 10 principles (rules) of Burning Man
****Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value. Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that supports such interaction.
Not sure what we were getting into, and only hearing many negative opinions from neighbors, friends, and family, we did a little research and found more positive stories than negative tales.
It was a strong desire of Ken’s to attend at least one event and check it out for himself. We are not sorry that we chose to go.
Packed up with “survival” supplies for heat, wind, dust, and no provisions within the camp, we arrived on Aug. 30th, 2010 and here we will try to Dispel the NEGATIVE Myths of Burning Man.
Black Rock City, (Metropolis) Arid, windy, amazing, artistic, unique, friendly, giving, sharing, caring, non-judgmental, friendly, passionate, spiritual, obsessive, fanatical, funny, foolish, fiery
Art Cars: Original, creative, colorful, clever, corny, musical, cool , dust makers, friend makers, ride givers, energy efficient, imaginative, inspired, ingenious innovative
Art on the Playa: Awesome, enormous, expensive, clever, crazy, , breathtaking, splendid, tremendous, awe-inspiring, passionate, astounding, humbling,
NO LIMITS, UNITY, COHESION,
GOLDEN RULE: Leave No Trace no MOOP (matter out of place)
Only art cars may drive around the camp and Playa.
Be considerate of your neighbor
NO selling of anything. Gift to others in a generous manner
****Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.
Everyone is here, because they WANT TO BE HERE. They are all spontaneous, kind, giving, art loving, peaceful people. It can be said that 90% of all that goes on here is “good, artsy, musical, talented, crafty, “green”, and gifting”. It’s an amazing thing that this many can camp just feet from each other, respect their neighbor, and keep a clean “leave no trace” campground. You hear no arguing, brawls, fighting, or angry talk. Everyone has a smile on their face, a dance in their step, and a little fantasy in their dress. 99% are clothed in brightly decorative and creative style, despite the negative press you might hear. Even the nudity is un-offending, and mostly ignored, and is a private thing for those choosing to “dress” in this fashion.
Bikes are the preferred transportation mode, as well as highly designed art carts. Real cars are only permitted upon coming in, or leaving the camp, and once you leave, it’s a steep fee for returning. The PLAYA, including the camping area, is formed in a ½ circle with streets from A to K and 3:00 to 9:00 rows, with THE MAN at 6:00, and is over 5 miles around. (study the “map” on page 2) Camping takes most of the area, with the wide open 10 to 2 area containing all the wonderful, creative art structures. The Esplanade or outer circle to camping and surrounding the MAN is a maze of activity, and action, day and night. The night is especially spectacular with all the lights, music, and nighttime frolicking. You can visit many camps and dance your feet off, hoola hoop till you drop or watch the antics of ThunderDome challengers inside the dome. There are Stilt Walkers, Fire hoopers, and fire twirlers. The art cars move people about the Playa and are brightly lit at night.
If you like to imbibe, there are free drinks and snacks everywhere , offered with no strings attached.
Many art cars are transportation modes to lazily move around the camp life and people can ride them when they can find a spot to sit. We loved riding the Playa on 2 nights on the moving bar, and the Aussie dance car,riding on the outside watching all the dancing, singing, lights, bikes, and moving art vehicles. Almost better than cruising down the Canals of Venice! And it’s FREE. Amazingly, all this “light” is coming from alternative sources other than regular electricity. Solar, battery, propane, gasoline, candles, some generated by hand, or turning a bike wheel shows amazing creativity
When you go to recycle your cans, you put them in a barrel, and get on a bicycle to pedal and crush the cans. There are metal cauldrons surrounding the outskirts of the villages for non toxic trash burning. Otherwise all trash is taken home with you when you leave. LEAVE NO TRACE, no MOOP (matter out of place) when the desert returns to mother earth. A camp next to us ran an evaporating wheel to dry up their grey water. Another had a still for purifying water. many art cars and camp lights were powered by solar panels.
****Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.
A booklet is given to the campers upon arrival, listing all the various “camps, themes, and activities” happening Monday to Sunday. What, Where, and When, in and around the METROPOLIS. There are symbols designating the type of activity, as some of the titles of things don’t give you a clue as to what’s going on. Categories are marked for adult, fire, games, food, (lots of free food and drinks and much to your surprise, not spiked, as the media would want you to think.), parades, care, support, first aid, kid-friendly, performances, ritual, ceremony, workshops, party ,gatherings.
We shared popcorn, snow cones, and even cotton candy which we twirled from the spinning barrel ourselves.
One village served home made ice cream in dishes with toppings, and we sat on pillows inside a huge, cooled tent. Sitting 6 to a “table”, we enjoyed meeting new friends. We sat with a couple of girls who traveled from Austria just for this festival, and with a couple from So. CA.
The events and activities continue long into the night if you have the stamina to stay up that late. We were very glad to have our RV to collapse in after a long, exciting, day on the Playa. We could never see it all. But we had fun trying.
****In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation,. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.
We handed out ice cold watermelon on Thursday, as it was the first really hot day we had. We made and shared a huge pot of chili one night and our neighbors were very happy to have a hot meal.
Ken had helped some fellows build their octagon insulated “tent”, so they invited him to enjoy their Noodle Dinner on Friday night. We were “gifted” with many cool things, including a silkscreened Burning Man shirt. We brought our own shirt and they did the screening. We waited almost 2 hrs in line to get one. The fellow doing the work was awesome, fun, and worked 8 hrs a day so people could have a free shirt. People brought snacks and drinks to leave at his camp to “feed” the waiting line. Another couple that we chatted with gave us a tie died shirt with their own design of the Playa on the front. They had made over 100 shirts before they came, just to “gift” to folks they interacted with during the week. We got pins and tokens, and one gal made burner braids for Sue’s hair. and her neighbor too. I made shell and bead necklaces, and polished rocks, to hand out to people who “gifted” us. We offered our neighbors any thing we might have in the RV that they didn’t have access to and needed.
It’s our 5th day today, and it’s a HOT one. Everyone is dusty, and with little washing water, the “natives” are getting desperate enough to run after the water truck that’s watering down the dusty streets. The clothes come off on the run, and if they run fast enough they get a good dousing with water but no soap! It’s free, fun, and frolicking. Lucky for us, we have a shower and soap and don’t have to do the water chase! Only a few free spirited and quick to run people do this, and it’s not in the activity book!
Yesterday, after 4 days, we tried to outrun a huge dust tornado coming across the open Playa. We had enjoyed 3 clear days with no dust, but this was coming with a vengeance. Everyone donned the masks if they had them, and many ducked behind things. Those on bikes tried to outrun it, and Ken put the pedal to the medal trying to beat it. Just before it caught up to him, it turned and dissipated in the desert. I couldn’t ride that fast, so I got off my bike and hid behind someone’s plywood sign, holding a scarf to my face. As quick as it came, it was over and life continued on the Playa.
We were sure glad to have our bikes with us even though they took a beating with the dust. We rode out to THE MAN which is 1/4 mile out, and met up with a group of Geocachers from So. CA and enjoyed chatting for an hour or so under the base of the MAN.
On the way there we found a yummy Hot Dog stand. Some burner decided to help feed the folks who were wandering around the Playa. So he dragged out all his stuff and cooked and handed out free hot dogs. All in the spirit of Burning Man.
****Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.
We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.
Today, I’m doing a NO CLOCK day. Not caring what time it is, doing just what I want to do, going only where I want to go, and not having a care in the world. It’s ok to do that here. Tomorrow we will be cleaning up, getting ready to pull out after the BIG BURN at 9pm. It will be sad, and exciting to see the MAN BURN. and FALL He’s been the focal point of all activities here in the Metropolis of Black Rock City. Everyone is culminating their activities, and preparing for the BURN.
On Sunday evening there will be a burn of the “temple”, where people have gone all week to remember the soldiers, their loved ones who are gone, to meditate, contemplate, and let go of concerns and hurts and sorrows. People write on the planks, put up pictures, and one gal I met had her husbands ashes to leave in the temple and he will be laid to rest in the burn. She said he wanted to come with her this year, but died in Feb. of heart failure at 48.
I tacked up a picture of my nephew Paul, and I’m sure he would have loved coming here with us. We were moved to tears just visiting and spending some time there during the week.
Thousands of people sitting in a far enough wide circle will not utter a word as the Temple is burned. You will hear only silence and some quiet sobbing of broken hearts. I am told that this is more solemn and spectacular than the Burning Man. We will miss this, but maybe it is best as I was most emotional already reading the many posts on the walls, and adding our Paul to the remembrances.
Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that trans-formative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.
Today we are having a very windy and dusty day and we fear that tonight's ceremony of burning of the Man will be delayed long into the night until the wind calms down. Ken is helping with the Lamplighters who, take out the lanterns daily, and hang them on the paths to light up the walkway to the art and music areas. Tonight they will parade out to the Man and help with the festivities and prepare for the burn. We are packed to leave with the RV right afterwards, but it looks like we will be spending another night and leaving in the morning. We really don’t want to miss this spectacular event as it is a highlight of the event. Ken wants to help with the Lamplighters activities wearing his lovely fire robe. But leave or stay, this has been a fantastic journey for us. We are glad we came and experienced Burning man.
So, will you add this event to your Bucket List? It’s where the multitude puts away their prejudices, and live a cohesive life for one week, with people you don’t know, and most likely won’t see again. It’s where you can leave all your cares, worries, and doubts behind, and just free your spirit, and be amazed that over 47,000 people of all types and cultures can live together in peace and love and harmony. (25% are here from foreign countries, mostly Europe.) Maybe those HIPPIES of the 60’s had the right idea. The hardest thing here is the DUST. It comes and goes, but it can be nasty at times. We had 3 out of 6 days that had off and on wind and dust. Most people say it’s an intrigal part of the Metropolis.
So, if you are thinking, where is the BAD that we always hear about? Well, It’s subterfuged here and there in some villages, but it’s not BAD, like in evil, its just different philosophies and it’s not judged. If you want it, go find it, if you don’t, then it won’t be seen. There is drinking and drugs, but for the most part we didn’t see any real abuse but we didn’t go looking for it either.
I can honestly say that 99% of everything at Burning Man is with good Spirit, Kindness, Happiness, Fun, and all that a perfect world should be. There are smiles on everyone’s faces, and joy in their hearts, and sharing and caring, and love. Perhaps it’s said that a Christian should not be here, but a Christian is meant to give, share and care and love their neighbor. We did it here, and we avoided where Christ was not present. WE did not judge, WE witnessed in our own way, and lived a bit of freedom that our Real World might not allow.
So what’s up for 2011?
This will be hard to beat
Sue and Ken Pace