One night my husband and I found ourselves overwhelmed by the sensory explosion. There were no longer any visible paths to the mile-wide center, known as the Playa. We had to lift our bicycles over our heads and step through the sea of bikes that appeared, chasing the big name DJ line up. We heard there was a Tiki Bar at the fence, the outermost barrier of Burning Man's temporary city. So we put on our goggles and started to peddle into the darkness, away from the carnival of lights and sounds.
There are no markings in the desert at night. It’s an incredibly freeing experience to bike as fast and as far as you want, knowing the small fence will protect you from the desire to peddle forever. My hands started to chill against the handle bars; still no sign of our destination.
Then a small glowing light came into view. After another ten minutes we found ourselves standing at a booth just large enough for the bartender to sit on a cooler.
“Welcome to the Dusty Pineapple. We like to say the drinks are average but the music’s great; however, I’m having some trouble with the music,” the bartender explained as he wiggled the wires producing sporadic sound.
We were welcomed with a hug and handed a half-filled cup of rum and warm coke. We were delighted! His welcome was elixir enough. The bartender, affectionately named Dad, was the leader of a small camp of people who come in from all over the country to man the Tiki Bar. This year he didn’t think he could make it, but decided he had to show up, so he boarded a plane from South America.
Dad settled back onto his perch, “I’m so humbled that you came out here. Usually if eight people come it’s a good night!”
And there he sat . . . in the vast darkness . . . waiting with a gift . . . for those who show up.
A huge wave of gratitude came over me. Biking the miles home, tears chilled my cheeks as I thought about the lesson I had received.
We wake up every morning and go to bed each night. In between there is a vast space of hours that is ours whether we show up or not. Showing up isn’t easy. It takes energy and commitment. It means not shrinking when we bump up against discomfort; connecting again and again with our inherent value so that we share the best part of ourselves with others; and it means trusting enough to loosen our grip so that the gravity of life’s flow can pull us in the direction we are meant to follow.
There are a lot of ways to experience Burning Man. For me, it was the surprising, magical way people showed up for each other in this self proclaimed “do-ocracy” that makes this grand heart-centered experiment worth the drive, the dust, the noise and the heat. I want to continue to explore open hearted living. Want to join me?
Leave your emotional armor at the gate.
Replace judgement with hugs.
Trust that others have your back.
Tune into the single experience we all share on this earth.
And then show up for others in the most generous, tender, wondrous way you can.