After the Burn is Over

 Raking up the ashes after “The Great Train Wreck” a collaborative piece by artisans from Reno & Sacramento. Leave no trace!

Raking up the ashes after “The Great Train Wreck” a collaborative piece by artisans from Reno & Sacramento. Leave no trace!

Burning Man 2018

It is now twenty-one days since the Man burned.

Over two weeks ago I returned home from Burning Man 2018. Only today, I finished cleaning and putting my dusty things away.

As I stuffed my fuzzy pink leopard print pajama pants into a big black bin, I got a bit teary eyed. “You never know what can happen. Maybe next year I’ll return to the burn. Or maybe this was my last time.”

Today, my hair and nails are clean and my body is on the way to desert detox recovery, but I am still suffering from Burning Man Burnout. Still feeling a bit of the Burner Blues.

 Crazy cats from California on the back of a colorful bus.

Crazy cats from California on the back of a colorful bus.

 You couldn’t help but to sing along. “Birds fly over the rainbow, why oh why can’t I?”

You couldn’t help but to sing along. “Birds fly over the rainbow, why oh why can’t I?”

 My Selfie Project - Learn how to take a selfie.

My Selfie Project - Learn how to take a selfie.

And, still no Whelan on Walkabout blog post. I tried to write while at the Burn, but the dust called me to ‘carpe diem.’

I like blogging because it helps me to reflect, organize, and sort out my thoughts and feelings. What better way is there to sort out my post-burn ‘decompression’ thoughts?

So, “Whelan on Walkabout, what did you learn at Burning Man?”

When I asked my fellow Burners “Why can’t real life be more like life at Burning Man?” Mostly the replies were “It can be like this! Why not?”

This was my eighth Burning Man Festival, and at one time I did get philosophical and ask myself “What have I learned at Burning Man that I can take into my everyday life?”

 Making new friends at Burning Man. “Desert Guard” by Lu Ming from Beijing, China

Making new friends at Burning Man. “Desert Guard” by Lu Ming from Beijing, China

I want to remember what I learned from the Ten Principles of Burning Man. I want to walk the talk and take part of it all home with me. I hope the ten principles can become a part of my normal life.

Principle #1, RADICAL INCLUSION. Welcome everyone and treat them with respect. Including others may be challenging, but worth the effort. Everyone benefits.

Principle #2, GIFTING. Unconditional giving is hard, but worth the effort. Never give up on giving unconditional love.

 Simple things are important, like a morning cup of coffee.

Simple things are important, like a morning cup of coffee.

Principle #3, DECOMMODIFICATION. There is no selling on the playa. Sometimes you just gotta get away from advertisements and commercials and breathe. Life is not about buying things.

 Tape on a commercial truck to detract from the advertisement. This message works for me.

Tape on a commercial truck to detract from the advertisement. This message works for me.

Principle #4, RADICAL SELF-RELIANCE. It feels good to make your own decisions.

 My kitchen for the week. The back side of Eggburt.

My kitchen for the week. The back side of Eggburt.

Principle #5, RADICAL SELF-EXPRESSION. We all have unique gifts to give the world. Don’t be afraid to give. Don’t be afraid to accept a gift.

Principle #6, COMMUNAL EFFORT. Cooperation and collaboration and part of being in a community. It is OK to go along to get along. We are all in this together. We need each other.

 The Aztec Dancers lead a procession to dance and be thankful for the gifts of life.

The Aztec Dancers lead a procession to dance and be thankful for the gifts of life.

Principle #7, CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY. Don’t hesitate. Care about the communal good and take actions that support everyone.

Principle #8, LEAVE NO TRACE - Sometimes it is hard to leave something better than how you found it. I spent time helping burners keep grey water, black water, gas, and oils off the desert floor. Imagine what we are all leaving in our communities! There is a lot to clean up. Pick up matter out of place and find it a home. It is good for the soul.

 70,000 people can leave behind a lot of bad things. The Earth Guardians help burners keep the playa clean.

70,000 people can leave behind a lot of bad things. The Earth Guardians help burners keep the playa clean.

Principle #9, PARTICIPATION. Life is better when everyone works and plays well with others. I like working with a group toward a common goal.

 Learning how to record Leave No Trace contacts into a database that is shared with the Bureau of Land Management.

Learning how to record Leave No Trace contacts into a database that is shared with the Bureau of Land Management.

Principle #3, IMMEDIACY. Be in the moment and enjoy life. The past is gone and who know’s what the future will bring.


Here is a very cool video about Earth Guardians and what they do. Video by Philip Safarik. Produced by the Burning Man Documentation Team.


 Earth Guardians, Burning Man 2018. You are the best! Thank you for a great burn.

Earth Guardians, Burning Man 2018. You are the best! Thank you for a great burn.

 “Baba Yaga” from the Russian tale “The Hut on Chicken Legs.” by: Jessi Sprocket Janusee and Baba Yaga's Book Club, Reno, NV

“Baba Yaga” from the Russian tale “The Hut on Chicken Legs.” by: Jessi Sprocket Janusee and Baba Yaga's Book Club, Reno, NV

Other things I learned from Burning Man

 One of my favorite pieces entitled “I Will Always Find You” at sunrise.

One of my favorite pieces entitled “I Will Always Find You” at sunrise.

I joined Earth Guardians without knowing anyone. I met people, we told stories, we shared experience, we worked together and everyone was so nice. No drama. No hype. No snarky remarks. What a pleasure!

“We are all just dust in the wind.” “And this too shall pass.” Life is an adventure, no matter where you are. Enjoy where you are now and don’t wait for another moment.

Sometimes it is good to stay up late. Live music and theater are worth the effort to stay up past bedtime.

Sometimes it is good to get up early. Watching a sunrise is the reward of honoring and setting the alarm clock.

And Sometimes, it is best to sleep. A cozy bed is a treasure. Feeling well rested is a gem.

I had several moments when I was suffering from a fear of missing out. There is never enough time to see and do everything. Don't worry about what you aren’t doing. Don’t worry about what you can’t do. Make a plan, pick a path, and go with it. Be thankful for the moment and enjoy.

 RadiaLumia was a geodesic sphere, five-stories tall, and covered with a breathing skin of origami shells and radiant spikes. Art by FoldHaus Collective, Oakland, CA.

RadiaLumia was a geodesic sphere, five-stories tall, and covered with a breathing skin of origami shells and radiant spikes. Art by FoldHaus Collective, Oakland, CA.

 “Lodestar” by Randy Polumbo, was made of an old military jet that involuntarily blossomed into a contemplative flower and gathering place for human pollinators.

“Lodestar” by Randy Polumbo, was made of an old military jet that involuntarily blossomed into a contemplative flower and gathering place for human pollinators.

Wearing funny old used clothes is fun. For the two weeks I was in the desert, I wore strange things I purchased at discount and thrift stores. And it was fun! Clothing is a form of self expression so why not have fun with it? I’m looking at my wardrobe and maybe adding some interest to my outfit selections.

Music is everywhere at Burning Man. I realized that music does make everything better. I am going to explore and enjoy more music in my life.

Food is always fun. I was gifted French toast for lunch and I had to stand in line and fill out the forms to get a burrito from the “Bureau of Burritos.” The fresh vegetables from the commissary were a blessing.

Art is worth the effort. You can’t avoid art on the playa, but in life, sometimes it takes a little imagination and time to find it.

Self care is always valuable. Yoga is good for the body, mind, and spirit. It is hard to have fun if your body hurts. After a week without bathing, my skin hurt. My nails hurt. My hair hurt. A simple shower with a bar of soap is beautiful thing.

Quiet time is valuable and a necessary part of self-care.

 The last moments before the burning of the temple “Galaxia” designed by Arthur Mamou-Mani.

The last moments before the burning of the temple “Galaxia” designed by Arthur Mamou-Mani.

I love you Earth Guardians. I learned a lot. I may return to the Burn, or I may not.

 Rainbow fur is always in fashion at Burning Man. But in the real world? Maybe not.

Rainbow fur is always in fashion at Burning Man. But in the real world? Maybe not.

If I did it in the dusty desert, maybe I can do it in my life. If I saw it in Black Rock City, I can seek it in other places around the world. If I had fun playing on the playa, I can find other playgrounds to enjoy.

I love Burning Man, but there are many travels ahead for me. And I will always have my lessons from the playa. It’s what happens now, after the Burn, that’s important.

 A Selfie a Day at Burning Man 2018. Selfie lessons… not all success, not all failures.

A Selfie a Day at Burning Man 2018. Selfie lessons… not all success, not all failures.