I went to Burning Man. I went to Burning Man in hopes of finding an amazing and transformative experience. It was started maybe 30 some odd years ago as a popup community with no money, built on principles of non-judgment, inclusion, and gifting. Today it has evolved to be a major, organized event – allowing 70,000 people to come with art, gifts, and open minds. I’ve met many who have been and want to keep going back for the multitude of experiences that can be had on the playa. So I wanted to see what it was all about, have my own experiences and maybe grow or transform into a better me.
Right now when I think of Burning Man I have a lot of upsetting and unhappy memories of dealing with the harsh environment, arguments with my boyfriend and just never finding what I was looking for. Burning Man was an emotionally difficult experience and if anything I feel drained and dissapointed in myself.
Fire is a theme at Burning Man. Art pieces pop up after a week of work and then are burned to the ground. I think that it signifies a theme everyone will embrace, change or transformation. Fire destroys, but the end of something always means the beginning of something else. The wide range of sights, sounds and experiences at Burningman are so great that everyone is bound to find something transformative about it: one person that gives you advice or a piece of art that speaks to you or leaving behind something that allows you to move forward.
Now I realize how naive I was to think that only good experiences are transformative. Within my own multitude of negative memories I am transforming and hopefully becoming a better me. Swallowing my pride and really reflecting on why things didn’t go the way I wanted them to has been the most difficult part.
A year ago I could have told you that I was content with who I had become. I have found passions and become skilled enough to teach them. My job allows me to afford experiences and provide for my family. I’ve found many friends that make laugh and keep me company. I liked who I was and felt like I had nothing else to work on.
With all the events of the year leading up to and including Burning Man, I had to face faults that I’ve carried but never delt with. I think that because of those faults I made mine and my boyfriend’s experience more difficult than it needed to be. And so for the first time in many, many years I am racked with regret. Regret about incidents even before Burning Man. Regret for the way we could have done things. Regret for the way we could have acted during the event and regret for the experiences that weren’t had.
I remember when I decided that regret was a feeling not worth wasting time over. That if you spent too much time regreting something then you are not moving forward. So I got really good at leaving regret behind, but this time I am swimming in it. And I can’t seem to stop.
It was Wednesday or Thursday and we were making our way home through the playa. We stopped by the main art exhibit that had also been established all around the playa – mirrors. The artist(s) wanted to establish one idea – that the person looking at yourself in the mirror is who you should be seeing in your head. You should really know who you are, matching the image of yourself in your thoughts and the real life image of yourself, and in that way you can truly be you. After spending 5 minutes looking into mirror, we realized…the way we felt all night, adventurous and invincible, gave us gradiose images of ourselves. Really we were dirty and worn looking. We were human. It was sobering to remember that we were human.
I am human. I hold on to negativity. I’m not sure what it is or why, but I’ve never really felt like a positive person. When something bad happens to me or someone is mean to me then it sticks out in my mind. Moreso than happy moments or good things. I remember these bad events easily and sometimes I like to stew in it. In this way I hinder myself from moving forward out of the negative experience. Maybe it’s that I have to learn how to process negative events better, because negative things will always be happening. It’s what you do after an event that affects your life. Typically I hold onto the negative event and can’t move on from it. LIke I said maybe if I knew myself better and how I could move on from the negative feelings, then I can succcesfully let go of that event.
I am human. I think I’m always right. I think I know the best way to do things. I don’t impose these ideas to friends, but when it comes to people closest to me, I hold them to a high standard. I expect them to know the things I know and do things the way I think they should be done, regardless of whether or not we’ve discussed it. Sounds ridiculous but it’s true. I’ve always tried to do things well and feel like my efforts have gotten me to a great place in life. So I expect those people around me to be the same way. But how can someone else know what I know and do what I do? No one is a mind reader.
I am human. I make others feel bad for not doing things my way. Probably the worst trait about me is not that I expect my close relationships to know what I know and do what I do, but that I make them feel bad for not being like me. They feel so bad, that they are afraid to help me, lest they get in my way and make me angry. They are afraid of me. My closest friends and family are afraid of me. Because I can be mean to them.
I am human. I am too accomodating. I aim to please and I am good at self sacrificing. So when I can see a place where my sacrifice makes someone else happy, then I will do it. But really I am the only one who knows myself so I should be taking care of myself instead of sacrificing. With my friends and family I tend to sacrifice a lot, because I think it will make them happy. However when I sacrifice too much is when I hurt our relationship. It’s unfair because the other person never even had the chance to do something for me. I should just let them know what will make me happy, instead of putting them first. It should be more of an exchange. We should be doing things for each other, instead of me always trying to take on the giving. I need to be more open with what I need and when, so that I can prevent the burn out.
This post is not to say that I didn’t have amazing experiences because I did. There were moments on the playa that I will never forget. Fun moments, happy moments, and priceless moments, but right now I need to completely process the bad ones in order to let them go and allow the good moments to take over.