I spent a whole lot of my time at Burning Man saying the following to the incredibly beautiful tribe of *carrots* who shared their hearts and souls with me:
Remember that there really is no difference between the playa and the so called default world. We all created this space together, just as we create the world we choose to live in, so this world IS our world. You can be this same YOU no matter where you are. It's your choice.
YOU are the gift and YOU are the art and you are absolutely beautiful and I love you!
Orgasms at 5:00 a.m. are a perfect start to every day.
Let's call a cat a cat, shall we?
On the third day of the festival, my body was aching and tired and I was up for the sunrise. I had earlier in the week suffered a concussion when I had taken a massive tumble from the very top of a huge horse shaped art car that was galloping its way across the playa. I tumbled head over heels (as I seem quite adept at doing) and landed smack on my head in a Nakedjen-sized puff of dust. I was blessed to find an actual MD from Salt Lake City at the Med Tent who took incredible care of me (the blessings of the playa are many). While the concussion made my head hurt in all kinds of ways, it only proved to me, truthfully, that I am far stronger than even I realize. I had come to Burning Man this year, especially, to check in with me. I'm on the precipice of 50 and I am going to admit that I am freaking out just a little bit about it. My life is quite extraordinary, I admit. I almost feel, many days, like I'm living in a dream. That I'm going to wake up and find out that it really IS all just a dream and that the wizard will quickly pull back his flimsy curtain and that I don't have a heart or a brain or any courage at all and that those ruby slippers have no glitter and, well, you get the picture. I went to Burning Man, quite honestly, because I needed to check in with ME and make certain that who I am is really and truly WHO I AM. I know that choosing Burning Man for this particular checking in activity may not exactly seem like the wisest of choices to a whole lot of maybe everyone, but I also know that for this naked girl, Radical Self-Reliance and Radical Self-Expression is something that I take rather seriously, and if there's a particular mirror on this planet that was going to show up the cracks in my veneer, the Playa would do it. Especially if I was willing to bare my naked heart. It was with that intention that I went and it was exactly what I did.
That early morning, my third on the playa, I had a shift at our Black Rock City Farmers Market. Our camp's gift to the playa is fresh fruits and vegetables and ready to eat salads and bicycle=powered smoothies. In a hot and dusty barren desert, where literally nothing grows, there's something rather magical about sharing some juicy cherry tomatoes, a very fresh pluot, a whole watermelon or a strawberry and peach smoothie with a burner who is wandering back to her campsite after literally burning all night long.
As the sun was painting the skies its pale pinks and azure blues just beyond the edges of the mountains to the East, I casually mentioned to those who were dragging along the coolers brimming with that day's vegetables with me to our Market Stall that I'd give absolutely anything for a beet. I had not had one since we had arrived. It was my own fault, honestly, that I had not stocked my cooler with them in some water for at least the first few days. Let's face it, this girl knows how to keep her beets! I had brought enough kombucha to even gift to others, but for some reason I left the beets snugly rooted in our garden boxes at home. My body was MISSING them.
Our market opened at 8:00 a.m. and we were doing a brisk business. We actually had two different stalls, one for the whole fruits and vegetables and one where we gave out our ready to eat salads. Midway through the morning, I moved from the fruits and vegetables to the read to eat stall and was doing my best to explain that the world's thickest hummus was only that thick because we were deep in the middle of the desert and it sucks the water right out of everything, including hummus. However, since I had made it, I was assuring everyone that it was infused with more love than they could possibly know what to do with and that they should absolutely give it a go. Business was brisk for the hummus.
It was while I was explaining, yet again, about just how much love was infused deep in that thick garbanzo bean spread that my sweet friend Ann walked right up to me and asked, "Nakedjen, how much do you love me?"
Before I could really even answer her properly, she held out her hand and there resting in her palm like a huge perfectly round rich king's red ruby was a single beautiful beet. Just one. Absolutely perfect.
I am pretty certain I squealed. Very loudly. An entire crowd of sleepy burners gathered around to see what on Earth was happening.
"Some folks just brought vegetables from their own garden and this beet was one of the things they brought and I knew I had to bring it to you," Ann gleefully shared with me.
"Oh, Ann. It's perfect. It's beautiful. It's like they heard me ask for it and brought it over!"
And then I just took it and bit right into it. Big, delicious, crunchy, bite. And I started to sob.
And sob some more.
With each bite, I cried harder. The folks who grew the beet came over and told me that they were from Seattle, that this was their first harvest from their first garden and they were so happy to be able to share it with our market to share with everyone else. I tried to explain to them how important beets were to me, but I know I failed miserably through my tears, but what I couldn't believe is that as I cried harder, all those people standing around me watching me eat that beet started to cry with me and before I knew it, we were all crying. It was like this beet love tear fest and I wondered at the rhapsodic ecstatic love that we were all simultaneously experiencing from the magic of one small beet.
The playa beats incessantly with a beat all its own and from the moment you step foot on it you feel a responsibility to awe. There is absolutely no possible way I can discern what anyone else took from their own experience at Burning Man and I honestly would not want to even try. I will only say that the nearly 70,000 of us who were blessed to co-create a city together in that magical dust this year all very much own a responsibility to awe and I would at least hope that we'd each still carry our collective love and experience in our hearts and share it freely in whatever ways we possibly can. Where ever we are. However it is we can do it. All the time.
We are the art. We are the gift. All ways.