Saturday, 13 October 2007
With Goose-like Tread Upon the Way I steal
I am pretty nervous right now (*). As a fattened goose would be. One who never wondered why on earth he was being fed so much rich and yummy food by some benign keeper. Oh yes my friends – there-in lies my nervousness. I have given little thought (**) as to why so many rich experiences have been made available to me. Instead I have dived in and gorged myself sick on marrow from the bones of life. Now I am certain my soul’s equivalent of the liver is engorged and swollen out of proportion from the wonders and pleasures of which I have availed myself. Certainly to judge by the increased size of my laugh muscles these last few weeks have been a damn good work out in the fun department. My ‘nervousness’ may now come from the notion that perhaps I have been fattened for the kill! That some angel or demon is right now sharpening a scythe in advance of a celestial feast at which some part of me will form a delicacy.
*I’m not really
**I have really – One should enjoy what is made available to one. Regardless of what that is. If it is horror and suffering then one should enjoy that for the karmic cleansing nature of it. If it is pleasure and progress then one should enjoy that as karmic reward for previous benevolent action.
Here’s a pome (well you could hardly call it a poem) that’s been forming in a really odd corner of my mind and is surprisingly bypassing my internal censors and being released into the world...
If the Lord sees fit
To cover me in shit
That’s his wish - I’ll revel in it
If its honey and wine
Upon which I may dine
Even better then - His choice and mine
Yeah every experience is worthwhile for something.
Back to the goose metaphor - I have 2 choices:
wait and see what happens – continuing to revel and gorge myself so when the inevitable happens, at least those buggers will have a fine tasting treat. If I am just to end up as a feast on God’s table then I want to be as good a morsel for him as I can be.
the other is to try to find an escape route. But I think any notion of attempting to waddle off in some direction from some improbable threat is really just the last vestiges of the old ‘catholic-guilt-I’m-not-good-enough-nonsense’. I’m squeezing that out of my belief system. And boy, can I tell you, I’m going to be really happy when that’s all finally gone.
Hmm – somehow that makes sense though it also carries an edge of expectation and THAT is something that ALWAYS needs to be managed. And you better manage yours in relation to this email cos the management of it have carefully ensured that it contains numerous mistakes. On top of that they have deliberately included a multitude of confusing metaphors, similes, mad-cap theory and half-finished strains of thought for which I accept no responsibility.
Anyway I’m going for option 1 - accept my fate as trying to avoid it’s only going to mean I do not enjoy the ride my life sometimes seems to be.
Its taken me 3... 4... Shit 5 or whatever weeks since Burning Man (BM) to write this as life’s experiences have continued unabated since then. This was my 2nd trip to BM and once again it affected me deeply.
I’m also making an unprecedented move and releasing the piece as separate installments. Why?
The initial draft is already WAY too long. So by breaking it down somewhat may mean more of you read it. Though I know even this may be too long for some of you busy folks out there. It’ll also mean I can send a few more pics overall. I suppose it’ll come as 3 parts within a week or 2.
And it also means instead of rattling on about just BM I can digress into other stuff along the way.
Last year (feels like a century ago) I never knew many of you so you will not have received what I wrote last year about my 1st trip to BM so if you like any of this or know nothing AT ALL about BM please feel free to request it as ancillary reading and/or check out www.burningman.com. I also wrote some stuff just before I left so you may request that too!
Nowadays I’m pretty much always a positive person and willing to express that. However a long time ago a friend very close to me shook me by asking me who I was trying to convince by always being so positive about my life’s experiences – other people or myself? I believe a kind word said at the right time can go a long way. But equally a harsh word spoken at the wrong moment can cast a long shadow. That comment induced extra insecurity and doubt into my life. So that, plus the greater impact of this 2nd BM trip made me wonder about the 1st one – did I really have such a good time back then?
The answer is a resounding YES. By going to BM I opened myself up. Its increased my appreciation of EVERYTHING - the world and my place in it. Hence when I RETURNED to BM I was even more able to appreciate just how incredible an event it is. And in turn by being more open there I was able to garner even greater value from the event which is opening me up further. And along with it a great increase in my energy levels and apparent capacity to adore this silly planet we live on.
The 2 major factors influencing and increasing my enjoyment of this year’s event - People and Experience.
When both are combined they result in a healthy increase in Confidence.
I knew a lot more people this year – the Canadians of Slaktoria that I camped with last year and have seen while in the company of Princess Crab of Victoria, Warwick a great friend of 20 years and numerous adventures (an e2-b as it happens – either you know or you will in the next installment, I’m an e4-b2), Katie Clarke (also e2-b!) and Skez (a mere e-b), Brian Spaley (one of those people’s whose surname is clearly part of their 1st name), Angela and Will, Kris, Menkin and Donnie, friends of the inimitable Jayman (recently renamed Cheetah!) whose friendship has deepened incredibly over the year, various ‘Burners’ or acquaintances from Europe and LA, the fresh and lovely folk of our camp, the Recharge Ranch and all of those people’s compatriots. If you never got name-checked here and feel you should – no fear there are many opportunities later in the fact-phase.
Having a strong foundation of people to operate from is a great confidence booster. They introduce you to others and provide you with a friendly base to retreat to when the going gets tough. Its so easy to flitter or bounce around a place flirting, meeting, chatting and being generally ridiculous when you know that at any moment you can just give up that game and return to a group of friends who’ll pull you safely from the wreckage if you’ve been shot down in flames. Furthermore I’ll admit that it can also be more fun to have one’s acts of heroism or creative silliness witnessed by friends who may then write poems of your bravery and spread word of your legend. Ooooo – that’s tantamount to a confession – well I am much better in front of an audience than in a dry rehearsal. Top tip for me – you’ll get the best out of me if you make me feel like I have an audience.
Now I’m hoping that most of you know something about BM but knowing that some of you will not have done your homework here’s the most important stuff to know about BM.
Its in a desert at 4000 feet or whatever. Its boiling hot in the day, freezing at night. Harsh conditions – dry and super dusty. You have to be prepared. You have to be radically self-reliant and bring everything you need by way of food, water and shelter. You also have to take it all away with you afterwards without fail. And people do. There is no commerce. No entertainment is arranged by the organisers. Nothing is bought or sold. Every item from booze, food, through hugs and smiles is given free by the gifter. There is trading in a sense – in that someone gives a gift and you may return one if you like but there is no: if you give me this then I’ll give you that!
All entertainment is provided by the participants. People come and do stuff, create art and offer activities and so on just because they want to. And when you realise that they REALLY want you to come in and enjoy what they have created you can do so with such a free spirit. It makes the exchanges between you and other people so remarkably open. You find yourself simply loving that this event exists and that it all works out. Quite astonishing. And there’s 47000 people there and no they’re not really hippies.
No longer being a virgin was a huge help. I knew what to expect and how to better access the wonders the event offered. The art, the mayhem and knowing that people want to interact and engage. Plus I managed to pace myself over the whole week, not burning out early and focusing energy into the times that one wants to enjoy more. Such as the daytime, when art and people are more visible and can be engaged with easier than at night when its more about dancing and staying with your own gang. Then again, when I did go out at night (er and that was of course, every night), this time it was easier to find that brilliant time because I knew more about where to look. Funny thing... Now that I think about it, I’m not so sure I did pace myself so much as I think I might just have had more energy. Maybe I’m just better at it now. I do get a lot of energy from hot and dry weather.
But here is a titbit from one of the encounters I had
En route home I spotted the Talk to God phone box and figured a chat with the almighty might be in order (see snaps). God sounded like he was on Opium he was so super laid back. Actually he did sound REALLY tired. I guess he doesn’t get a lot of rest – just one day a week. Hmm..
“This is God, how may I help you?”
I answered him with ‘Hi God, does anyone ever call you just to say hi?’
“No – never”
‘Well me neither - sorry – you see I’ve got this really bad case of flu and I thought perhaps you could miracle cure it’
“well – I could of course – but its better if we just leave your body to do it”
‘er.. Ok if you think that’s best’
“yes – that’s best. That’s a really lovely outfit you have on by the way”
‘thanks god, gosh its really cool to know you really are omnipresent and all-knowing’
“yes – is there anything else I can do for you”
‘er... Do you perhaps have a beer.’
“of course – I can hook you up with some of that, I’ll send an angel. Anything else”
‘no that’s fine, great, thanks, nice chatting, bye now’
And sure enough a lovely appeared – handed me a beer (can) with a smile, turned and vanished into thin air.
After me a couple went into the phone-booth and I overheard this sound-delight - the girl to the boy after they had picked up the receiver:
‘There - see, I TOLD you he existed!’
Its all that kind of funny stuff that makes this festival so much fun and makes you want to contribute to it creatively in your own way too. Now curiously a pretty similar thing happened to me last year but it was a different phone in a different part of the city and I’m not sure if the God was the same. I’m not one for monogamy oh fuck sorry monotheism – I think either there’s ONE or as every culture seems to have one then there’s several. No big deal – let’s move on. Same result though – beer. 6 pack last year. Both times I never managed to delay the angel for long, they must be immune. And oddly I don’t even like beer much. Next year I’ll try to think of something else to ask for or hell, perhaps I’ll just let sleeping gods lie.
Attached a few snaps just of things and bits and pieces. A few art pieces. A few people doing things. Stuff. More to come so there ya go.
Incidentally the title for this email was inspired by one of my all-time favourite songs. Its from The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan. “With Cat-like Tread” . Its all about pirates and pretty funny. But its very useful to do silly sexy interpretive dancing to and formed part of my best performance ever – the Pirate/Cowboy/Vampire/Knight impressionistic dance act.
I’m in bed writing this footnote long before I have finished the rest of this mail. And I’m playing that track to check if I still like it as much. And yes I do – its bloody ridiculous, filled with soaring nonsense and has me awriggling in my lovely white bed – there is a hot bath waiting and its taking all my effort not to leap up and dance around the room. ........ Ok I failed – I did leap up and danced around my room, alone, for real. And I’m pretty surprised that I did that. Normally I do that kind of stuff only in front of people – you know when I have an audience and all that. Gosh – this is so much fun really. I do enjoy writing this nonsense – I like the action of it – my fingers clicking away on these cool keys, trying to spend time with each of you. Conveying some peculiarities of the things I think of the universe. Sharing my experiences, trying to draw a laugh and expose an emotion and create a sense of the immediacy of my communication. Trying to write as is I were talking to you. As if we were together. To me this time spent writing is almost like time spent in your company – though I get to do all the talking! Nice. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this and to have someone out there read what I have written. So much of my life I have yearned to be creatively expressive and each of you who read this are making that a reality for me. Thank you all for fulfilling my greatest dreams.
Love, light, clear skies and barely expressible but abundant amounts of goodwill and joy.
Serious aside: clearly I am not ALWAYS so effusively ecstatic in my moods but writing this right now has put me into that state. So please know that the last few lines I wrote above were meant with utter earnesty. Thank you for you.
As I’m plotting more of this feel free to request being removed from the list too – no offence will be taken.