During my week of vacation this summer I went to Burning Man (BM). I was on the fence about it for a long time. Similar to last year, I waited until the last minute to get a ticket. However, like last year, it was no problem and all the puzzle pieces seemed to naturally fall into place. Even after getting my ticket I waffled about whether or not I should go. Burning Man is a time and place where you get little sleep, there’s a million things to do, it’s hot and dusty, and the extremeness can be overwhelming and exhausting. Perhaps, I thought, it would be better to have a stay-cation and rest?
A friend of mine who I spent a lot of time with at BM 2012 called me on the phone. We had discussed camping together this year and were trying to coordinate plans. Her and her boyfriend had purchased a cheap car and had gone on a camping trip by the Yuba River. On the phone she explained that the car was more or less dead and it wouldn’t make the journey. No problem, I assured her, I would take them. And just like that I had committed to Burning Man 2013.
Panicking slightly that I had offered to be their ride, I told her that I was more than happy to make the drive out to Black Rock City with them. I was pumped to camp with them, too, but I wanted some level of independence and flexibility. I didn’t want them to depend on me for a ride home in case I freaked out and left early. I had been looking forward to this vacation for a long time and I wanted the autonomy to do what I liked when I felt like it. The last thing I wanted was to feel guilty for abandoning my friends in the middle of the desert. Luckily for me, my friends are badasses who have no issues making shit happen.
So that was that. I was going to BM, for better or for worse. The thrill of the trip sank in and kept me up at night. I only managed to pack the day before I planned to leave, stuffing rolled socks and lacy underwear into plastic bags, hoping that less was more. Last year I was with an organized camp, whereas this time it would only be the three of us and I wasn’t quite sure how it would all work out.
Even though I now had arranged to camp with my two friends, I felt as though I should approach the event as though I was going it alone. I did not want to rely on them as a couple for company and I definitely did not want to resent them for that either. I also wanted to mentally prepare myself for the tsunami of FOMO (fear of missing out). I desperately wanted to grant myself permission to do BM at my own pace with the least amount of comparison or pressure possible. I had been mulling this over for weeks and had no idea how I would feel once I arrived on the playa. It almost kept me from going, but the adventure was set in motion and the excitement was mounting. I was grateful to have friends as company and build a camp with and pleased that I was freewheeling.
After a 6am departure from Davis, CA and 7 hours of waiting, we made it through the long dusty lines and began looking for a spot to set up our tents. It took a while, but with some patience we found people who welcomed us with open arms. We were very limited in our supplies and incredibly under prepared compared to our neighbors. I felt like a gutter punk kid who was going to sleep in the dust all week choking on gas fumes while our fancy neighbors ran their generator next to my cheap tent. But it didn’t matter. I took pride in the simplicity of it all.
Despite all the back and forth, the worry of being unprepared, and insecurities surrounding loneliness, it was blissful to spend a week on the playa. I take pride in my ability to see the value of showing up and being present in situations, even when it is difficult and challenging. This is also how I ended up doing CrossFit. I often tell myself, when I meet resistance in attending a new class or event, that all I have to do is go – I don’t have to excel or do anything crazy, I don’t have to dance or make a new friend. As long as I bring my body and smile once, that can be enough.
So rather than staying in the bay area for a week and hiding out at my parents house to recharge, I committed to going to BM. I knew that I would regret it if I did not attend and I also knew that ultimately, the option of a good party and friends would be more valuable to me than spending 7 days alone in Palo Alto. All of my last minute decisions lead me to an “Oops, I did it again” moment, where I realized that I felt limited in my ability to contribute at BM and that may cause me to treat it more as an experience than a participatory community(!?) What I am saying is, that while I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to do BM, it relies heavily on people who whole-heartedly care about the city and build it from scratch. Then they return it to the same state the desert was in before we were there. That’s a shit ton of work.
Not only that, the culture of BM is maintained by those who are committed to practicing open mindedness and gifting. Approaching others in the spirit of non-expectation is no small feat and requires vigilance. As an organization, there are people working year round on creating this bedazzling parallel universe and I do not take it for granted. For this reason, I would like to acknowledge that there are endless opportunities to contribute to BM as a place, an event, and as a community. While I set multiple intentions for myself this year, they were very personal in dealing with my own emotions. I am planting the seed that the next time I go to BM, I would like to contribute more towards the experience as a whole and to a group at large. In this way, I am contemplating the core principles of the event and meditating on my own ability to shape experiences for myself and others.
After a weeks vacation in the desert, I have come back refreshed. I am satisfied to say that, despite the harsh conditions, I am rested and healthy. I am grateful for the art, the music, and the friends I bonded with. With my birthday only 2 weeks away, I’m excited for new writing material and bringing a fresh perspective to another year of life.
Wow. What an evening. I think I’m still high from that bust-your-balls work out. I just competed in my first CrossFit Open work out and it was intense. I wasn’t nervous until Thursday night. Then I had trouble sleeping. I watched as some of the coaches did the workout this afternoon. It was reassuring to see that it was similar to just another WOD. However… that nervousness sat with me till the end.
The count down alone: Three-two-one! Was wild. That “black-out” period sets right in and you just go, giving it whatever you got. I love the reminders to breath. Something so basic and so important, it’s almost laughable, but it really helps to have that as one of your cues. Breath. So simple. Keep breathing, keep moving, no problem. Stop breathing? You’re finished.
I have arrived home from competing in my first CrossFit Open workout and I am sitting down to write for 20 minutes, because it feels like this is a 20 minutes I don’t want to lose. Tonight was magic. San Francisco CrossFit (SFCF) continues to Wow My Pants Off and the community that it growing at that place makes my heart swell huge. “I’m surrounded by badasses!” That’s the vibe.
As I began my burpees, just out of the gate of the 17 minutes of pain, I had my eyes on the ground. The first round of snatches at 45 pounds was bearable, fun, even. Another 30 burpees: heart pounding, ears howling, cheeks burning, breath god damnit! Then the real work begins. 30 snatches at 75 pounds. I am at the bar, brace myself, pull. No rep. This shit is HEAVY. The bar is on the ground again and I am trying to set myself up. Go again. No rep. I’m thinking, “Fuck. This is it. I can’t go any further.” But there is still time on the clock and what am I going to do? Stop trying? Hell no.
Standing by the bar, trying to catch my breath, I look up and find myself surrounded by friends. Friends who happen to be strong, motivated athletes and they are cheering me on. They’ve got constructive criticism, cues, and hollers. Fuel to my fire, baby. Metal to your shins, chest up, eyes up, lock out your arms, break that bar and shrug that shit off the ground like you mean it; land under the bar and pUMP it UP. Lock. It. Out. Done. Rep One. Six minutes later we have 30 seconds on the clock, I knock out 2 more snatches for a total of 25 reps at 75 pounds. Bam, bitches, 13.1!
What an amazing crew. It brings tears to my eyes. I am shouting out to all the amazing athletes who came out to SFCF this evening and made it a night to remember. I appreciate the kind words, the observations, the attention, the camaraderie, the support, and the unconditional positive regard. Incredible. It’s going to be an awesome season.
See you next week.