Burning Man: An Experience of Body, Mind, and Soul

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by and reading my words. Please allow me to introduce myself. My default world name (the world we’re all living in… well, in all likelihood) is Cody. My playa name is OBG Why Not. I did not chose this name, rather it was gifted to me by Grand Master Funk (not THAT Grand Master Funk) when I participated in the “Reincarnation Location” theme camp in 2014.  Gifting is a big part of life at Burning Man. It felt great to be gifted a playa name as I had been to Burning Man once before in 2010, but had not been in the right place to find my name. Does that make sense? Maybe it will later.

Anyhoo, that was one of a hundred cool experiences I had while out there in Black Rock City. Though I have only been twice, the difference between my first and second journey was almost night and day. The first time was a lot of learning, exploring, whining and moaning. Hey, it was hot and I didn’t know what the fuss was about (also, we had some camp drama, so here’s a tip: don’t camp with anyone you don’t know or isn’t vouched for by someone you completely trust. I mean the kind of trust that you’d go to war with someone kinda trust, capisce?) It took me a few days to realize…I can do anything I want.

Now, bear in mind, I’m a slow learner, so most of you will probably go there knowing that. Still, the sense of freedom was so liberating for me that, regardless of whiteouts, heat, dirt (well, playa to be specific), lack of sleep, life at Burning Man was wide open. You want to go to the other side of camp? Cool, go. You want to go to deep playa and see the art or stare at the trash fence (some people do)? Cool. Go. This lead to my understanding of one of the 10 Principles of Burning ManImmediacy. I took it to heart much more on my second trip, but the idea is simple: do it NOW. Whatever IT is. Overcome your own personal barriers that might normally make you NOT do something – say, stopping at a group shower and getting hosed off communally – do it at Burning Man. For those few days are fleeting and it will be over and gone before you know it. Don’t be left wondering “I wish I would have done more.”

Now, by the end of my week there in 2010, I was ready to go home to a real shower (which was frickin’ ORGASMIC, by the way) and to have a meal that did not come out of a can, a pouch, a wrapper, a box, or a freezer bag. Speaking of food, I, like many other people, like to eat. It’s good for you and, gosh darn it, it’ll keep you alive. Life on the playa can be a pain in the tuchas if you let it, or, with proper planning, you can enjoy a variety of foodstuffs. Herein lies another of the principles: Radical Self-Reliance. That’s pretty self-explanatory, but, in case you’re as slow as I am (Ha! Impossible!) don’t count on anyone to have what you need. YOU be in charge of YOU and what YOU want. If you just want to survive on power bars and bottled water, good on you. That’s one way to get by.

Other people bring barbecues, camp stoves, hot plates and the like. The bacon camp had a bacon grease fueled stove they used to cook more bacon. Heck, some people even bring full size refrigerators and freezers. How? Well, they plan ahead of time and make the arrangements for transport and power and whatnot, which allows them to have magnificent meals in the middle of nowhere (though, to be fair, during Burning Man, Black Rock City is actually somewhere.) Aside from the heating and cooling of foods, there’s the matter of storage. I highly recommend having some kind of pantry system so you can actually find what you want.

Mmm...good eatin'.

Mmm...good eatin'.

Last year, my wife and I prepared a bunch of meals in pouches using a vacuum sealer (aka “Seal-A-Meal”) which, once sealed, were water tight. We had burritos, a Mediterranean quinoa salad, marinated tofu, and brownies (uh, that might’ve been a mistake…but they were tasty!) Granted, by the end of the week, squeezing a “brownie” that has been sitting in an ice cooler for 7 days is not the most appealing sight to behold. The great thing about using the vacuum pouch approach was the lack of cleaning / cooking it involved.

Keep in mind another principle – Leaving No Trace. If you cook a big pot of pasta or rice or whatever, what do you do with the leftover water? Or the water you’re going to use to clean it? Can’t just dump it on the ground. You’ll need a container to pour it in and take back with you, or some kind of evaporation system…which can get stinky. Speaking of stinky, think about what you want to eat and how it will affect your body. The port-a-potties out there can resemble the bog of eternal stench from “Labyrinth” (unless you have your own port-a-potty; the most amazing gift ever!)

I think that’s a good place to stop for now. I’ll be back now and then with some memories, tips, experiences and such to share with whoever wants to read them. Until then, make like Bill & Ted and Be Excellent to Each Other. Cheers.



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