(excerpted from his email list)
|I've been reading the postings here at [SF
email list], and it seems to me that with the exception of the ranger thread it all seems
very rosy. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change a minute of my time in the dessert.
But for me (and i know that bman is different for everyone) there is a very serious
dark side to the experience.
Within the first 3 days I came unraveled. I felt as though all that I held dear, my lovers and friends, my ideas and beliefs, my body and brain, (and a few materiel possessions) were slipping quickly away. People told me to take it easy, to pace myself, to eat, sleep, and drink water. And I thank all for their concern but (though it may not have seemed that way) I was taking it easy and the pace I'd set turned out to be perfect. I know it may be hard to understand, but during this time I had periods of sheer joy and laughter. If you have ever been so down that you were crying but ended up laughing at the same time (something that has happened to me several times and not just at bman), you know what I'm talking about.
At about the time when I'd just about bottomed out someone I'd considered a friend said to me in a tone that was at once angry, snide, and condescending, "mateo, just be happy."... The only analogy that comes to mind is being kicked while down. At this point you may be thinking that I need professional help or that I'm just trying to get attention but I lack almost nothing in my life, I'm happy so much of the time it seems almost abnormal, and though I enjoy attention as much as the next person sometimes I could do without it. Also several psychologist friends of mine have indicated that I'm doing fine without therapy. Yes I know that washing "dirty laundry" in public is considered bad form, in bad taste, but I'm not uncomfortable around strong emotions such as anger or sorrow, mine or other peoples, and I believe that it is better to let ones emotions out as they come up. If people are freaked out by this "negative energy" or "bummed out" by it I apologize. But these things are a part of life. To misquote Kahil Gibran: "one cannot know the mountains of ecstasy without the visiting the valleys of despair."
No, I don't think the world revolves around me. No less than 3 times I came across friends of mine who were hitting bottom. I spent time with each one and was able to leave them with a smile on there faces. (Definitely some of my highlights.) There was a forth person that at the time I was not able to spend time with as I had my hands full but in the best spirit of bman Godtod took her in and gave her safe haven and friendship.
Tod u are a God, thank u.
In extreme environments the underlying currents in relationships will surface and friendships will be tried to the max. Things can lie dormant for a long time but I'd rather deal with them in the harsh acidic sunlight. And though I try to not place too many value judgments on things I think these processes are good, but I reject the sentiment that "it's all good". I saw people do and say things (myself included) that I think are wrong and/or bad. (There I go again with a value judgment). This will be the last time (i hope) that i will say "i'm sorry". My tolerance for bullshit went way down over the course of that week and I became rather irritating, I imagine, as I felt free to speak my mind. I was told several times that I stepped over "the line". So be it .
Robert Burke (sp) summed up the bman experience as "pushing yourself to the edge and then a little farther and seeing what happens." And this is a motto that I seem to live out everyday of my life.... I wouldn't want it any other way.
Once again, I had an amazing time , thanks to all who made it happen and especially those who didn't turn me away because I was having a "hard time".
Please feel free to respond as you see fit.
i've played with fire, been burned, and will play again
if u meet yourself on the road, burn yourself down
As far as "comming unravelled" goes, it happens to all of us out there. It's one of the reaons we go, I think. Just being at BM is intense enough, but it really amplifies things like introspection and interpersonal relationships. [the rest ommitted]
Mateo... I'm really touched by your email, because that was exactely how I felt last year. This has been my 5th Burning Man. Even if I miss the first years, I have to see that Burning Man is still a place of extremes. It's survival, not only because of the desert, but also because of the society and ourselves. I remember having friends telling me things like "just relax and have fun", but also almost strangers giving me the best boost. Burning Man is still a place where it's okay to be... as you need to be... And that's how you can burn some... if not all... the bad, negative vibes.
In short... there is no cheating on the Playa.
> there is a very serious dark side to the experience.
i couldn't agree with you more. i have regrets about a lot of the stuff that happened while i was out there. my relationships with many people changed dramatically and a whole lot of disturbing things went on that i can't really point my finger at and say, "this is a good thing," or, "this is a bad thing." i am still very overwhelmed by the thinly submerged emotions and neuroses that came out in nearly everyone around me.
catharsis, i call it. and it is what i went there for. and no, it isn't always pleasant.
> i know it may be hard to understand but during this time i had periods of sheer joy and laughter. if u have ever been so down that u were crying but ended up laughing at the same time ( something that has happened to me several times and not just at bman.) u know what i'm talking about.<
again, i think that your experience closely paralelled my own. the full range of emotions in all of their uncontrolled intensity. overwhelming. unpleasant. a serious realignment of priorities. i walk away with new knowledge of who i am at least, and who my friends are.