Today I step foot back onto the Nevada desert to spend a week in a tent. Now those of you who know me probably just clutched your pearls (h/t to new roomie Seth) but despair not: I have plenty of outfits for both the sunny afternoons (read: blazing hot, sand blowing everywhere and into every crevice) and the chilly desert nights (read: faux fur and lots of El wire). And I also have a solar charger. So don’t fret: I’m good.
I am going to the desert become a part of an intentional community built around and transformed by a set of principles such as radical inclusion, giving, and communal effort (Read them at https://burningman.org/culture/philosophical-center/10-principles/.). This place I sojourn to–a spiritual home to me in a profound sense–as wonderful as it is, is also steeped in privilege. Not everyone can get to Black Rock City and, despite the sincerely held spiritual beliefs, not everyone is welcome or feels seen.
[If you have read this far and are seeing some comparisons to another counter-cultural movement I am embedded in, you are not alone.]
For me, this journey offers personal renewal: a time to receive what the Universe has to give to me and meditate on the year and work ahead. [Thanks to my travel buddy & brother Cowboy for sharing how for him, this is a more significant time of reflection than New Years.] Burning Man is also a call to be present among those of us with privilege and be a witness for those voices so desperately need to be heard, bodies that need to be seen by people who look like me.
So in addition to a fabulous pair of silver, knee-high boots I spray painted myself and a rainbow-fur bike I meticulously hot-glued, I bring with me several hundred #BlackLivesMatter and “ask me my pronouns” buttons I got from the United Church of Christ–the denomination I belong to.
I am only one among 80,000 Burners, most of whom return to the Default (the world outside the Playa) transformed.
But I am one among 80,000 people capable (just as we all are) to take what I am given and help transform hearts and minds.
So this week, I am not marching or protesting as a part of the resistance. But hopefully, with the simple gift of a button. someone’s heart will be changed or spirit emboldened to speak out or someone will be inspired to advocate for others or work even harder to leverage whatever privilege they possess.
And then maybe the principles of Radical Inclusion promoted here in Black Rock City–and by a certain radical, Palestinian Jew–will spread like the Dust on the Playa.
Burn on. Resist often.