[I'll write a full account of my first Burning Man experience later, when I've had time to rest, rehydrate and unpack. But I wanted to get this bit out while it still has meaning.]
I'm back from Burning Man. As expected, my first year of Burning Man was not the mind-blowingly positive experience that it is for most people. It was, however, exactly what I intended it to be: an opportunity to remove myself from the world and shake the hornet nest that is my mind, and see what demons really are behind my current woes, so I can begin to understand them.
I brought a lot with me to the playa: pain, anger, frustration, distrust, fear, and isolation. Some of that was left on the playa, and swept away in the ashes of the burn. Some remains to be dealt with. But what I left behind was replaced with something new. I do not have names for all of these yet, but I'm sure that will be revealed to me in time. But there are a few things I brought back which I can name.
The first is a fortune cookie that I was given at a little noodle house and bar on Venus, which read: "You must leave something behind to receive something new." I have been repeating this to myself in different tones since then, and have found not only that it is true now, but that it has also been true in the past. Some were left behind in order to purge myself of them, and some were left for safe keeping. I just need to bring a gift to leave behind in order to retrieve them.
Another thing that I brought back with me was a fifth question. I mentioned before the four questions which, if asked enough times, will eventually reveal a truth about you. And I also mentioned that different people live their lives by one of these questions or the other. But I missed one question. "What are you afraid of?" I am amazed at the variety of my answers so far. This question may be the key to unlocking my current riddle.
But one of the most valuable nuggets of wisdom that has been added to my arsenal I didn't receive until I returned from the playa and continued feeding my B5 addiction.
"I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe."
- Marcus Cole, Babylon 5: A Late Delivery from Avalon
One of my fundamental life philosophies is that you have to bend when the wind blows. When you brace against the wind and attempt to resist the laws of nature, you will shatter when the winds blow hard. But if you learn to ride the winds, there's no limit to how far you can fly.
Lately, I realize, I have not been bending. I have been trying too hard to make a stand and sink in new roots, and haven't been embracing the chaos that is inherent in the system. So when the chaos knocks on my door, it comes as a punishment instead of as a challenge. If I keep this up much longer, I will shatter. My first order of business should be remembering where I left that ability to dance gleefully in the winds of chaos, and what gift I must bring with me in order to retrieve it.
I think I know the answer to where I left it. And I'm pretty sure that M&Ms are the appropriate gift. But I might also need to retrieve a few more treasures as well, while I'm there. I'll wait a few more days to see if I get a call that could change the nature of this treasure hunt. If the call doesn't come in, I'll be on my way back to the wilderness to do some digging.