Yep, I Attended Burning Man…And Loved It.

Sunrise at Entrance of Burning Man

About a month ago I went to Burning Man for several days. If you’ve never been, I pretty much guarantee it is everything you heard. And nothing at all.

1990 was the first year Burning Man took place on Black Rock Desert (previously on beaches in San Francisco). That was also the same year my dad gave me an article in my inbox (here’s the link that explains my growing up with an inbox) and it was about this specific Burning Man event, before it ever became popular–heck, before most people had heard of it let alone popular. At the time I was 17, I’m sure he doesn’t remember giving it to me, but I can still recall certain excerpts, the creativity, and photographs from the article. Since reading that story, I always wanted to go and given newfound proximity (SF is a relatively short drive to Burning Man) that sentiment grew over the past year.

One of the many awesome costumes on the Playa

At the last minute, and based on an invite from a fellow SF start-up friend that gave me the chance to stay in a very cool camp, I decided to go to Burning Man 2012 along with another good friend of mine.

It was an event itself getting into the Burn, we arrived at the entrance at 2am but didn’t make our way through the gate until 7am. Just the process of waiting was a fun experience, and unforgettable whilst watching the sunrise come up over the Playa. Initiation through the gate included rolling around in the alkaline desert, gonging some bell, and being told “welcome home” by the hosts.

There were a lot of things I enjoyed about Burning Man, but the winner for me was really discovering the creative process people need to go through to get to, well, their creative output.

My great friend, Joel Canon, hanging at Camp Ideate

So many of us love the end result of creatives, the completion of artwork, acting, music or whatever else. But often it’s easy to discount or underplay the creative process that people need to go through in order to achieve the end result. For me, Burning Man was an amazing look into the creative process that can benefit both creatives and non-creatives alike. And just so there’s no  misunderstanding, my use of the term and interpretation “creative process” isn’t code for illicit drug use, etc. Yeah, there’s some of that at Burning Man. But not everybody participates (nor did yours truly) nor is there pressure to do so. What I mean about the creative process is literally just that. The process of communication. Exploration. Artistic expression. Learned through either or both introspection as well external observation and sharing.

And while I loved my time at the Burn, it doesn’t mean I loved every single thing about it. But I’m focusing on the parts I liked, not the select few I didn’t.

Stopped Here for My Crazy Buddy...

Tons of  amazing artwork and exhibits, fantastic conversations, and an eclectic–very eclectic–array of workshops. Our camp, Ideate, was focused on technology workshops and demonstrated a really cool 3D printer. I’ve read a lot about this technology, but it was my first time seeing it firsthand. And for the record, the 3D printer is insane. Absolutely crazy insane, because what’s available today is a glimpse of what will be forthcoming in the future. 3D printing will be one of the next big disrupters of this decade.

Burning Man Sunset at Camp Ideate

Burning Man is lots of things. Yet, for me, the most apt truism of Burning Man was shared by a guy helping me shop–yeah you’ve gotta dress up in costume to go to Burning Man–in Haight Ashbury a week before the event. I asked him to describe it, and he looked at me and matter-of-factly said:

“Whatever it is you’re looking for, that’s what you’ll find.”

Which is exactly what I did.

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