Burning Man by Kelly Ewing
Last August I ended driving 25 hours to Black Rock City, Nevada all by myself. On my first day I drove 19 hours straight. Yes, this might sound crazy. Why? My only response is why not? Sometimes you are served an opportunity that seems like a meaningful coincidence, or ultimate synchronicity. While you always have all the reasons to say no or not right now, just remember that the unknown continues to persist. Here is some insight on my story.
For the past three or four years, I have followed the art and installations that come to life on the playa in BRC, but I never had the chance to travel to Nevada to experience it firsthand. The thought of going to Burning Man always terrified me in the most thrilling way. I knew it was this huge gathering in the desert where thousands of people from the entire world travel to and have a shared experience. There was so much unknown to me about Burning Man and that is what I was fearful of. I was fearful what people would think of me when they heard I was going. I was fearful that it was going to be an environment that wasn’t healthy or safe. I was fearful that it was 25 hours across the country and I was ultimately going out there alone. But once I got past those fears I was able to realize that the unknown doesn’t have to be scary. The unknown doesn’t have to be scary because we are in charge of blazing our own trail. We are able to bring intention to our experiences and present moment; we are able to bring love and follow the unknown pathway, ready to leap in and take risks. And there are some moments where everything is so synchronized that you are given a deep sense of peace about which pathway to take.
Last July my friend reached out to me and told me that she had an extra ticket to attend Burning Man. She told me that she would already be on the road traveling by the time BM would occur and that I would have to find a way to get to Black Rock City, which is 25 hours away from Oklahoma City. I contemplated if it was realistic to go and take this journey by myself. Then, the family I nanny for told me they would be traveling the same week of the burn so I had those days off work. That is what I call synchronicity. I had 10 days off work, a ticket available, and extra cash saved up. I knew it was my time to go. I knew it was a risk and there was so much unknown, but I was ready to unravel the mystery.
When I got to Black Rock City I was anxious, excited, scared, inspired, and I had so much to look forward to. 70,000 people were attending Burning Man and I knew one person inside the gates. Upon arriving BRC I was greeted cheerfully at the gates with warm hugs and the first thing that was said to me was, “Welcome home.” All the fears I mentioned earlier were valid. It is valid to be fearful of the unknown. But the important part is to remember to not let fear consume or paralyze you. I could have stayed home and thought up all of the “what ifs” about this trip and Googled all the bizarre things on the Internet about Burning Man. But I learned that when you let fear get the best of you, it creates your experiences for you. I wasn’t going to let that happen. I was going to be brave and jump into the unknown, anxiously anticipating what I was going to learn that week. Turns out I made amazing family, spent a lot of time by myself learning hard but valuable lessons, gave handcrafted gifts out intentionally to burners on the playa, shared my story, experienced the most phenomenal art, endured wild desert dust storms, rode my bicycle out to the middle of the desert by myself in the midst of the night, attended workshops, started the healing process for past pains, and transitioned into a new chapter of my life, a chapter of self-reliance. Turns out that my experience looked absolutely nothing like anything I found on Google because it was my own. I blazed my own trail and I danced to the beat of my own rhythm. And I encourage you to do the same.
I encourage you to look fear in the face and say, “get behind me.” I encourage you to take that risk that you have been thinking about for a while. I encourage you to look at the unknown and dream of what you could fill in all the beautiful space with. You can do it. You can do it alone, too. I encourage you to make your experiences your own; you can always find someone’s opinion about any event or experience online and allow their words to influence you to make preconceived beliefs about something you have yet to experience for yourself. Don’t. Don’t do that. Figure it out own your own. It may be challenging but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t beautiful.
And most of all don’t forget, the unknown persists.
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