Burning Man. The ultimate of festivals. Every year, nearly 50,000 people travel from all over the world to the barren deserts of black rock city in northwestern Nevada. It is a week-long event in which an ideal city is resurrected, and torn down without a trace. Black Rock City isn’t just any old city; it is a city based on bartering, radical self-reliance, self-expression, creativity, participation, etc. The festival begins on the Sunday before and ends on the monday of Labor Day. On Saturday night; after nearly a week of meeting incredible people and viewing unbelieavle displays of art, is the burning of the man. The man is a large wooden effigy that stands in the middle of the city, and every Saturday night; as a way of closing the event and saying goodbyes, the man is burned. As one burner describes:
On Saturday night, we’ll burn the Man. As the procession starts, the circle forms, and the man ignites, you experience something personal, something new to yourself, something you’ve never felt before. It’s an epiphany, it’s primal, it’s newborn. And it’s completely individual.
It is hard to pin-point what the burning of the man means or what feelings it stirs up, because ones experience at burning man is so completely individual. In all honesty, I have never been to burning man, so I cannot say from personal experience, but I have spoken with multiple burners and they have all described it as one of the most incredible and wholly profound experiences of their lives. I can only imagine the freedom and love one might feel as the man goes up in flames. It is a time of reflection, thankfulness, and for many; sadness because it signifies the closing of a life altering and magical event. This year wasn’t my year, but I know that I will get there some day. I will be among the thousands of burners, feeling the love and watching as the man burns to the ground in a beautiful display of self-expression.