The Desert Wept At Our Passing, And Is Once Again Left Alone

70,000 people came and went where none were before. A place so barren it is without insects, and yet I saw a hawk swooping through our camp at dusk.

Black Rock City. A place like no other on earth. You have either been there and know it, or you are an outsider. There is no in between.

There is no place I feel more alive, more insane, more in touch with the emptiness inside my own soul. That personal struggle to add meaning to an intrinsically meaningless life.

Giant bug puppet. Photo by Jim Laux
Giant bug puppet. Photo by Jim Laux

I didn’t want to go, but I had already bought a ticket and a plane ride, there was no turning back. Doug and I planned for months to build a giant 22 foot walking puppet bug we were going to stride across the playa with. I knew it would be a nightmare building it there, it always is. I knew the wind would make our lives miserable as we tried to cart around this giant creation. Last year I built a 43 foot tall puppet man and moved it around with 6 others on guide wires. I swore never again, but here I was building this bug in the middle of nowhere, right back at it again.

The playa offers no rest for the wicked. There was the crazed storm that shut the city down on the first day. I climbed to the 4th story of the Misfit Framily Treehouse and watched the storm roll through. The line of cars stuck in the mud as thousands of people were stuck for 30 hours in the mud waiting to get in.

The playa doesn’t care about you. It doesn’t care if you live or die. The lightning flew in bursts from the sky, near-striking 3 people that we knew of. They were shaking with burned fingers. The playa doesn’t care that you just got struck by lightning. It is just a giant machine that feeds off turmoil and chaos.

The temple, exquisite, masterful, temporary sadness. I would visit it every morning and every night and found it impossible to walk inside those walls and not be completely overwhelmed with emotion.

That floor, the dance floor was what brought me back. In the words of Wish, “What if it really was just a collection of bamboo and wood and screws?” The floor was there, it drank the water poured on it from the sky and gleamed like a shiny new car. It absorbed the heat and the power and energy of a thousand frantic souls pounding out their hearts onto it. This container we built held more energy, more pain, more passion than any container I had ever seen. Just to dance on it was a great gift, an incredible blessing.

The Rhythmwave Framily photo by Duncan Blue
The Rhythmwave Family photo by Duncan Blue

To be held, to be loved, to belong. For brief moments I felt these things in a camp made up of 65 strangers from all corners of the globe. Just as I was starting to believe, to let the vulnerability in, it was over. We were breaking down the floor again and ready to return home.

I could feel my heart drift away and want to claim its distance again. For a brief moment I had forgotten the illusion of separation with others and together we had become a single, dancing, sweating, crying, amorphous, being of pure love. That feeling of being cradled in your mothers arms as a child, the absolute safety and security that comes with ignorance of all the things that could hurt you. As soon as you grasp it, it is gone again.

And we return to our lives, to our jobs to our partners. We remember what it is to be separate again.

To be alone.

Separate.

Again.

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