"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life.
Don't be trapped by Dogma which is living with the results of other people's thinking.
Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your inner voice.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become."
- Steve Jobs

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Burning Man Blog Part 4

Where was I? Ah yes.....awesome evenings and dubious men. Need to get this blog finished before all memories fade!

Dubious men.. Met another one the following day as I was wandering back to camp from Centre Camp. He caught up with me on his bike and asked the usual "where are you from" etc questions. His name was Chris and he seemed a LOT younger than me. We chatted and he came back to the camp to meet the guys and he sat himself down then noticed my mirror I'd left outside my tent. Well that was it. He surreptitiously angled it towards himand checked his reflection......like, about 10 times during the next 10 minutes of conversation. I didn't think I was that boring! Anyways I resisted the urge to call him "Narcissus" and fling him out of the camp,but he eventually left. Yawn.

Then a guy camping nearby came to ask if he could nick a bit of our water, he was a Brit and worked for Google in San Francisco...he'd left his girlfriend in the UK to do his overseas 6 month stint and was loving it. He said his bird was fine with being apart for 6 months, which made a refreshing change from the usual "paranoid clingy girlfriends" that seem to exist today. Either that or she was happily off shagging other men while the cat was away.....

He said that the two Google founders were Burners, and that they allowed all their employees to allocate a percentage of their time to "their own projects that would benefit the world". This is a great ethos and I'm sure it keeps staff morale high. Not only to Google have the coolest offices on the planet, they also allow their employees a bit of freedom. If I ever am lucky enough to turn Fuzzbutt into a business then this is the sort of thing I would encourage for sure, as well as having a dead funky working area. It's good to see the next generation of CEOs bringing stuff like this to the workplace, and having a fresh new attitude.

During the remainder of the week I cycled round the Playa, took more photos, and sat and people watched. On Thursday I went out to pay my first visit to the Temple of Basura Sagrada.

The website for this Temple sums it up:

"We build art out of trash for many reasons. Our goal is to make something amazing and exotic out of materials deemed unworthy, the stuff we throw away everyday. And while it is obvious that making something beautiful out of refuse is a political act, the question we hope to answer with this project is whether it can also be a spiritual act. We believe that it can.

Basura Sagrada is a temple constructed entirely from burnable trash, recycled materials, and the tossed-off detritus of American society. Meticulously detailed, the temple will be a precious space created from non-precious materials. By replacing the gold and marble surfaces of traditional temples with aluminum can adornments and cardboard spires, we hope to inspire others to see everyday trash as beautiful, to save everyday trash and use it—not because it is responsible or right or necessary to recycle (although that is certainly important), but because people are excited about the materials and medium.

We believe that the material itself has an inherent value that can be unlocked in the right hands. We will attempt to unlock unprecedented levels of beauty, and do it on a scale that will blow people’s minds and function as a sufficient vessel for the hopes, dreams, memories, and losses of our community. We welcome intrepid visitors to this space to be a part of this grand experiment in trash alchemy."

And they totally achieved it. Basura Sagrada blew my mind. It was definitely the "Heart" of Burning Man. I visited it on Tuesday and on Sunday, the day of it's Burn. I walked around it, climbed its stairs, read every surface and saw what people wrote on it. Memories, tributes, goodbyes, pleas, angry rants, loving notes......even a hard-assed bitch like me had tears in my eyes as I read some of the things written there. People who had died tragically, people who were cancer victims, people who had gone missing without a trace, people who had been murdered or abducted. But alongside these upsetting stories were also tributes to parents, grandparents, friends who had lived long and happy lives and then had passed away naturally.

A display of hundreds of matchbooks stodd next to some photos and a story about somebody's parents, who had come to America long ago as immigrants, made their fortune, stuck together thru thick and thin, and had collected matchbooks. HUNDREDS of them. The story invited people to help themselves to a matchbook and remember the story of the two immigrants who came for a slice of the "American Dream" and achieved it, leaving a legacy of children and grandchildren behind. Mementoes were everywhere. Watches, toys, photos, clothing, things that had been placed there to be burned with the Temple, to be set free into the sky along with the memory of the person it belonged to. People achieving closure, people trying to get closure, people saying a final goodbye.

To see the full spectrum of what humans are capable of all in one place was very moving. I went from horrific stories of abduction and abuse, to beautiful writings of love and longing, gentle tributes to angry political rants. And all the while the sun shone, the various decorations of the Temple made out of tin cans and bottle tops swayed in the warm breeze, clinking together gently, as people wandered around and talked in low and respectful tones. A huge white kite with a long tail was being flown overhead, to me it represented all the spirits currently residing in the Temple that would be set free that evening when it was burned.

I sat on a lovely driftwood bench back on the Playa and watched people. A lovely lady with a glorious set of feathered wings and a feathered headdress, was dancing to the chilled-out music that was being played from a nearby art car. I took video of her which will be uploaded soon, she was amazing to watch. She moved her arms like wings and her smile was so radiant and full of joy, and people stopped to dance with her or just to give her a hug and be enveloped in those soft gentle wings. She was like a free Spirit of the Temple. A slim Chinese girl put her bag down and joined in dancing with her, mirroring her arm movements and smiling with her - that's what I captured on video. I cursed my shitty camera for only taking 20 second clips at a time. I'm sure "The Bird Lady" knew I was watching her from behind my sunglasses and I was partly terrified that she would come over, urge me to dance, or interact in any way with me. I was terrified because I thinkthat had she done this I would have just burst into tears, I was so totally taken with the whole atmosphere of the Temple. Even now, writing about it makes the tears prick my eyes, and I really don't know why. Guess I'm not such a hard arse after all ;o)

I wished that everyone could experience this and see the full spectrum of what humans are capable of. And learn from it. And fucking change their ways and stop destroying this world and eachother.

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