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Lucid Thoughts

Burningman Remembered Aug 17, 2008

Burningman Remembered

Location Google Map: Quezon City, Philippines

The Genesis
While I can remember myself as a free spirit from the earliest days, the genesis of this remarkable journey stems from Burning Man - without a doubt. I can't help but reminisce about the events that took place and the ensuing aftermath.

Older, Free-er
At 49 years old, my peers have become established in their careers, contributing nicely into their nest egg, balancing a maturing family and a stable career, and living life within the secure confines of white picket fences in the 'burbs. That's really nice and dandy.

I, on the other hand, having lived in other cultures, came back to the Philippines to live life on my backpack with no money, no stable career, no permanent address, and living life on the open road one day at a time, by choice...and I wouldn't have it any other way. I've had the most exhilarating adventures money can't buy. The things I could ever long for in life, I already have. The things I don't need, I've already unshackled myself from. I'm at my happiest now, enjoying the freedom to do what I want to do, to be what I want to be and to go where I want to go. While I have come close to being hungry living in a cardboard box, that hasn't happened. In fact, I eat well and I eat good. Opportunities come my way with almost no effort on my part. It's as if an unseen hand is looking after my well being.

The Genesis
I have often been asked what led me to subscribe to this nomadic lifestyle. While I can remember myself as a free spirit from the earliest days, the genesis of this journey stems from Burning Man - without a doubt.

What exactly is Burning Man? It's hard to put it in a box, but it's a counter culture event that happens once a year and lasts for 7 days in the interior of the Nevada desert, 120 miles from Reno, the closest city. Like-minded individuals gather and interact with everyone in ways very much unlike the default world - giving and sharing (vs taking) being the order of the day, money not changing hands (although you might like to offer your butt for an affectionate spanking in return for kindness received...seriously!), hugging being a currency of choice (free hug anyone?), etc.

A Different Kind of World
From a no-man's land, the empty dried-up lake bed (commonly called playa) becomes the 3rd most populated city (Black Rock City) in all of Nevada as 35,000 revelers descend upon the playa for a week of radical self-expression and radical self-reliance. It might seem like another wild party on the surface, but it's a rare glimpse into an alternate headspace - one of detachment and faith into a horizon far broader than what's visible. The non-stop beat of Playa-music from all directions, the dazzling lights that adorned the city, out-of-this-world theme camps, the outrageous art cars, the 24/7 parties, revelry and debauchery and the unfettered freedom of self-expression, even the unrelenting dust storm all came down to a mind-blowing sensory overload that galvanized the Burners into a collective tribe, one looking out for the other, each a link in the human chain.

Going Back to the Default World
Of course it wasn't that apparent at the time. All I know is I was reduced to tears on the 7th day as I witnessed the camps being dismantled and knowing that this surreal experience was coming to an end. I would have to return to the default world. At that time, I didn't know what changes would await me in the default world, except that I wasn't going back to my old life.

I was a phoenix rising out of my ash. My new journey back was characterized by one of renewed optimism that there is something better out there...that life's bounty will be revealed to me as I stay real in keeping that faith. Unafraid and confident in my resolve, I walked away from things I realized I didn't need - an 8-to-5 job, relationships based on dependencies, a 'homebase', a future, money in excess of my meager needs, etc. Ironically, instead of feeling destitute, I felt empowered. I realized a lot of the things we hold paramount are mere illusions...that things we think we need are actually baggage that weigh us down. My newfound wealth lay in my mobility - to take off on the fly, to cross paths into other people's lives and spaces, and to allow them to shape mine. Being open to change, hungry to experience new things and relentlessly pursuing 'things I still don't know about', I'm a sponge as I soak-in all that comes my way, mindful of lessons gleaned from everyday revealing its secrets, one day at a time.

The Flow
Proverbial paths were cleared for me in no uncertain terms as I latched myself on to what I now call The Flow - the undulating energy of the collective whole to which I see myself a part of. With The Flow, doors open up. Good things happen spontaneously like a fairy tale. With hardly any effort and expense, The Flow has taken me across North America, Europe, South East Asia and now in my motherland, the Philippines. I rented a small space in Sagada, a remote mountain hamlet 12 hours north of Manila, where I stayed for 2 years. I recently gave up that space to make way for what perhaps is a chance in a lifetime - being one of 18 castaways (from over 43,700 who auditioned) for Survivor Philippines. Having no place to stay in Manila, I saw myself crashing into friends houses as I looked for temporary shelter. Fortunately, I'm now 1 of 4 bedspacers in a little sitio near UP (my Alma Matter). I'm not choosy - just grateful to what The Flow has put on my table. I've crashed in plush houses in rich people's homes, I've curled up in wet tents and I've lodged in roach-infested urban hole-in-the-walls. I've eaten haute cuisine prepared by the best chefs and I've eaten maggots as's all good as I anticipate the coming day, curious to what life has in store for me.

Burningman Remembered
top-lit from a roof opening

Ending Thoughts

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider

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Into The Wild
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