I’ve been wanting to go to burning man for 6 or 7 years – as long as I’ve know about it. For a number of reasons – kids, business school, family vacations back east, startups, life – I haven’t been able to swing it – until this year. Burning Man is a bunch of things to different people so this is just my view of what it is. To me, it’s the best of the best in a number of categories. It’s the best of sharing, community, partying, self-expression, art, creativity, friendship, giving, love, delivering on ideas and more. Having had the great fortune to enjoy TED and Summit Series a number of times, I see so much overlap with these amazing experiences. It is no surprise that a couple hundred people I know from TED and Summit went to the playa this year.
I knew that I would love the playa, but it was so much more than I expected. I didn’t realize that there would be so many amazing demonstrations of art – in the thousands, not in the hundreds as expected. I didn’t imagine that there were so many incredible parties at any time of the day – I knew there would be some, but I didn’t realize that when I awoke at 5:00 AM to go to the Temple to leave behind clothes that belonged to my brother, having worn them the night before, that I would be enticed by a dozen dance parties in the playa (Robot Heart – you were everywhere).
I didn’t realize that people would be offering free coffee and cigarettes at 4:15 & G for those returning from a night of partying or that so many people that I had spoken with for only 15 minutes would give me gifts that I’ll remember for a lifetime, or that you could bike to deep playa for coffee and eggs at Dust City Diner at 7 AM. I knew that there would be generous offers but didn’t realize that there would be an invitation to dinner every night of the Burn and didn’t realize that I would build new friendships.
I knew that the Temple would be an amazing place for me with the recent passing of my brother but I didn’t realize that I would be compelled to spend 8 hours in there thinking, crying, consoling others, watching the sunset, enjoying the harp and other instruments which played constantly, partying as the man burned, and returning every morning to be comforted and comfort others who had suffered a recent loss. It was such an incredibly spiritual and moving place for so many – I can’t imagine a better environment to enjoy with my brother and the thousands who have last their own. The amount of love that went into the creation of that temple and that passed through the temple was incredible.
I didn’t realize that Center Camp would be so inspiring with talks at the level of TED or Summit, amazing music, yoga classes, drum circles, art projects, fashion shows and more. I didn’t realize that I would be involved in pulling a Trojan horse before it’s burn or an international talent show in the deep playa. I knew I would meet great people but it was more than I expected at every moment. I didn’t realize that volunteers would be giving tours of the art installations twice a day so that we can understand the artist viewpoint of their creation.
Burning Man was one of the most inspirational experiences of my life – (Photos here and short video here). I think that there is incredible resource in the community. To me, there isn’t a better example of delivering on creative desires – maybe others that compare, but none better. To believe in an idea and create something amazing for such a short period of time for others to enjoy is such a generous gift, so much so that it can be overwhelming as you ride your bike on the playa around sunrise or sunset. I believe that the resources exist in the Burning Man community to address some very serious global issues and deliver solutions that work. I believe this so deeply that I’ll be reaching out to the Board (whom I’ve met recently) to discuss my ideas with them. Burning Man is about self-expression and delivering on that expression – this is such an important resource.
I want to thank my friends, Philip, Tom, Sandra and Everett for helping to make this an incredible experience, and my wife, Luann, for making this happen by supporting me and taking care of the boys while I enjoyed this amazing experience. I love you. Burning Man is about giving and you gave me the experience of a lifetime. Thank you all very much! It’s good to be a Burner.