Dear Everyone of this delicious extended network of lovely people I am fortunate enough to know all over this temperate medium-sized planet's surface,
Its been a long time since I last wrote. I've meant to. I've wanted to. But I guess I just haven't. Maybe because things were simpler and more complex in my life. And I have no plan to explain anything of that last statement just to move toward to an, as-ever, bright future. I find that as I approach exciting events in my life I become even more active in my sleep. Periods of stress and over-work can cause this too. But my workload has been relatively light of late. The desire to write before my next ‘big’ adventure is too great to remain silent.
Anyway last night in a hotel in Paris (work-trip), while asleep I physically threw myself from the bed and into one of the room’s corners. I cannot remember what dream state prompted it but it is pretty amusing even if embarrassing and a little disturbing. The situation became funnier when the period of bewilderment lasted long enough for me, naked (aren’t I always in these emails?), to open the door to the bathroom and step in only to find myself in the hotel corridor. Thank bugger it was a dream-state rather than a nightmare-state - I did not closed the door behind me. And thank god at 4 am the corridor was empty. Still I did laugh myself back to sleep. You may laugh at this and I hope you do but don’t put it on my permanent record please.
What drives me to write now is that I am on the eve of another momentous adventure. My first trip to Burning Man. In much the same way as I eagerly await Eclipses so I have anticipated this trip since deciding I would do it back around the time I saw that last eclipse - 29 March. My fourth. At that time I also had the fortune to meet a Canadian Burner (Domenique) who reminded me of the festival’s existence and judging by her stories it seemed like a bloody good idea to go.
Back then I wrote that I had decided to start to measure my life according to a solar eclipse calendar. Hence I was in the period to be known as E4 (until 1 August 2008 when hopefully I will enter E5). Well I have decided to add another letter to that equation. B. To be added when I have been to Burning Man after an eclipse. So in a few days time I will be in the period E4-b. Then in august 2007 E4-2b. E5 as mentioned above and then approximately 4 weeks later hopefully E5-b. You understand that this is ALL just for a laugh.
I like the way this starts to sound like a chemical compound. Even though I decided to hate chemistry at school (the bad smells during my experiments always earning a reprimand which ruined the fun), I have always liked the Periodic Table. That everything was made up from a combination of these really very few substances. Substances that in isolation could never appear to be useful forms for makings nice things. How was the soft roundness of a breast made from a lump of coal and so on? In later years I was delighted to learn that probably a quarter of the table was practically non-existent anyway, elements that had been created for the briefest of moments in science labs at ridiculous cost and so existed only barely longer than the theoretical. And another quarter so rare as to not be worth bothering with. Great, all so simple then. Except life is of course wonderfully not so.
Anyway - there is something about the Burning Man festival that despite my never having been I yearn towards. Is it the radical self-expression? The radical self-reliance? The leave no-trace? Or indeed the one I sometimes forget to mention when talking about it - the spirit of community and its gifting economy. Naturally it is a combination of all four. That plus the recognition that most 'burners' I have met have been remarkably open and generous people. Of course I have not embraced all I have met but the fact that 'burner' communities exist all over the planet suggests there is something about the experience that can provide something of a uniting spirit. I even let a person I have never met stay in my house in Turkey pretty much because they were in need but also somehow as they were a 'burner' my hand of hospitality was extended super-fast. I have yet to meet this person but there are plans to do so at BM this year. Nice. Rather than write much more about BM itself I’ll suggest you visit www.burningman.com and check that out. Of course I will write a ‘report’ on my return.
I have benefited magnificently from the introduction of certain 'Burners' into my life over the last 4 months. They have allowed me to indulge so many of my fantasy lifestyles and creative outlets. I have in this period, travelled, written, photographed as never before, painted, danced and acted. Its been wonderful self-exploration and feels like the manifestation of years of watching and learning. Or indeed perhaps years of not watching and not learning. Only time will tell though I am now quite convinced it doesn’t really matter. Either way I am not being specific about the influences in my life – they know very well who they are.
Or is it that I have allowed myself this pleasure? Throwing off the shackles of self-restraint and denying myself no longer. Who knows. But I will try to keep it all going. As my life travels take me through valley and over mountain, its all good. The valleys are beautiful places of growth, rest, recovery and preparation, the mountains, exhilarating places to put to practise new skills on steep learning curves. Places to view fresh and broader horizons from.
I have always wanted to go into space. As an astronaut. Recently I had a remarkably pleasant philosophical discussion with a man I have been friends with for many years and who indeed I met in a queue to register for Philosophy 1 in 1990 – Jonty Rooke. He enlightened me as to the concept of a psychonaut. This apparently is the phrase to describe a person who actively pursues an exploration of the interior of their own inner-space with the same intensity as an astronaut wishes to explore outer-space. Sounds good to me. I’m down with being one of those. Doesn’t stop me wanting to go into space though. That’s still on my list. I plan even more in-depth psychonautical studies out in the desert at burning man though there surely will be enough distractions around. I expect them to inspire and as an opportunity to observe the wilder folk of this planet trying to be at their wildest it’s probably unbeatable.
So anyway, other than that, this period of horizon broadening has also coincided with learning how to paraglide and the irony of the literal and figurative coinciding is not lost on me. For me paragliding has done to air what Scuba diving did to water. Gave that element a whole extra reason for existing. No longer is water just for drinking or swimming in – it is something to envelop oneself in and move through exploring. So now air is not just for breathing – it is also for lift, flight and moving through. It is extra space on the planet for me. Considerably less cluttered than the ground layer. Much more of that to come.
I am not sure but I have not detected the ability to feel a tree’s living roots beneath the ground under my feet anymore. I used to have this. Or at least think I did – I never dug a tree up to find out for sure. In exchange I seem to have acquired more of an ability to detect inclines. I think I prefer the idea of feeling tree-roots more though its not much of a special power compared to x-ray vision and super-breath etc.
Finally an update on the Year of the Dog (**see below**). It seems quite certain that I have been searching extensively in the past 5 months and have found many things. And its equally certain that the trail and discovery of them have been incredibly fun just as an experience. In other words the jury is still out in terms of whether or not the things found have long-lasting importance, relevance or worth but as expected the trip has been along the scenic route and much-enjoyed. As a result I have enjoyed the most mentally relaxed of Northern Summers thus far. I hope at least that attitude remains long into the future.
All of this reminds me a fortune cookie I once received “The truth is not always beautiful, but the thirst for it always is”
So short term I am away until 6th Sept on a hugely fun psychonautic exploration far beyond any threshold I have crossed to date. I’m looking to learn, dance and have a good old time. Then return to England, finish this film about Edith Piaf off and plot a course for the future, I hope to see you there. More likely if it is in the upper west hemisphere.
Finally I hope all of you are all happy and well-fed from suckling on the teats of life.
I wrote it fast ... And I know I am being a bit elusive about the recent times. Too bad. They’ve been good to me.