10 Sep 2010

Burn-Upon-Return

Burningman 5 Comments

Where do I go from here?

I have often wondered what is the best way to adjust after returning from Burningman. How do I leave a world behind that had me so wrapped in its dusty embrace that I felt at home in one of the most unforgiving environments you could possibly live in. How do I not leave behind a place that changes you, a place that challenges you and asks you to dig deep into who you really are.

In years past I have returned with profound realization and great conviction as to the direction that the next year of my life should go, energized with goals and ideas that could not help but bubble forth from me. This year I return with more questions…I did not come to conclusion on the Playa this year, I uncovered challenges.

This is not a bad thing mind you. I happily look at these as a gift from my week in the desert. I learned many years ago that you cannot have expectations of your journey to Black Rock City. Every year is different and every year is what it is supposed to be, but I am perplexed. I find myself looking to grow not on the Playa, but rather in the time following it, and that in and of itself is a fun twist. To burn-upon-return if you will.

And so I try to reflect back upon the days in Black Rock City that brought me to where I am now, and I get a little depressed, longing to be back in that dusty space of possibility. But to be sad right now, almost seems to discredit the amazing and varied memories of the experiences I had. So I push aside the sadness and try to bring those experiences to my present. Look to recapture them not as longing for a recent past but as ideas that are now firmly within my present. Ideas which can blossom and lead me into the future.

So what are the ideas…

My happiness is in other peoples hands.

At least right now it is. All that makes me happy, all that I seek to accomplish in my life is centered on the approval, or praise of others. Even in writing this I find myself thinking “I hope people like it. I hope it moves them.” There is nothing wrong with that at its core. I love bringing pleasure and happiness to others. I love entertaining them, I love to make people smile. But when my joy lies not in the act of doing it, but rather in the praise I hope to get for doing so, the beauty of the whole experience is tainted, and the possibility of my own happiness is placed outside of my control. It is equivalent to thinking that I am only happy doing something if I am good at it, and I WILL NOT allow myself to think that way.

I am not in control of that which is outside of me.

I try so very hard to control what people think of me. What others say. What their ideas and experiences are. I can affect those things to some degree, but only through the way that I live my own life, through my own actions and beliefs, which are mine and mine alone. When I try to make my choices and decisions based on (misguided) calculations of controlling all of the ripples that may follow, I am afraid to act, afraid to be. I realize that it it impossible to control that rippled outcome and yet I long to, so I freeze.  I am not in control of what others think of me, I am only in control of who I am.

I want people to know who I am.

Knowing people is a two way street. It is a connection. In the past I have longed to know more people. To challenge myself to go out and meet more people and be bold about introducing myself to strangers. I have wondered why I feel in my heart that I am shy and yet so few people realize that about me?  I came to realize that it is because I know that I am holding back from opening up completely. This year I longed to have people know ME, on a deeper level. To understand who I am and what I believe; to see what makes me, well…me. But now I understand that that is a two way street. Sure you can tell people all about yourself, but then they understand who you THINK you are, and who you are willing to reveal or portray. It is in moments of connection with another that others can see you, and in those moments you can see yourself.

I do not know what I want to be.

And that is ok. I have made a huge change in the direction of my life over the past year. A change that was put in motion by Burningman 2009. Now when people ask me what is next I feel this overwhelming need to have an answer for them, when the truth is, I do not know. I did not exchange my life for another life, like trading in a car for a newer more exciting model with better options and features. I opened my life up to being something new. I asked for a clean canvas that I can create anything I want on; to building something new from scratch. I want to create my new life, and promise to keep you all posted as it continues to take shape and as I have some idea of what it is forming into.

Happiness is only half of the equation.

There is no happiness without sadness, but all too often I get stressed out by any sadness in my life an look at it as something that must be eradicated as quickly as possible, or something that needs to be fixed. But no one is supposed to be happy all the time. Sadness is a part of life and helps us understand and recognize the happiness that we get to enjoy. It is a Yin Yang balance, and I can be at peace with sadness rather than have it be that source of stress for me when it does arise. (This one is definitely a philosophical questions, and I will get back to you on it after reading some some Lao Tzu or Buddah or something.)

So where does that all lead me…?

Maybe that is what this Burningman was all about for me: happiness within myself. Last year I realized that I was not happy and fulfilled in my life, and by life I meant career. A good start, but not a road that would lead to true happiness. I was still looking for outside things to make me happy.  This year I realized that I have not been the captain of my own soul. I have not been the source of my own happiness, but I now realize that I CAN be. I see that the next big area of change and growth in my life exists inside of me. My journey continues, and my growth has new direction and energy. I continue to work on making my life as passionate and exciting (and happy) as I can and look forward to sharing the progress I make with all of you.

Finally I want to add a note to all those who know me closely. I am in an amazing place in my life. I am excited for all the challenges and uncertainties that I face now and going forward, and through it all I know I have each of you. Those of you who were with me at Burningman, thank you, you already have done so much to help me understand who I am and will always continue to do so. For those of you who were not there I look forward to connecting with you and knowing myself better through doing so.

and so the burn continues…

5 Responses to “Burn-Upon-Return”

  1. miss mary says:

    oh… thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your energy!

  2. d. says:

    thanks, bill.

    burning man will always similarly challenge me, and i learned a lot about myself this year, as well. but i also know that it is the challenge that makes the trip special for me…if i want a straight up vacation, i’ll do something else for a week…

    cheers!

  3. C.K. says:

    Great thoughts Bill. I have had similar thoughts on creating art. I think a great artist creates for himself, creates because he has to. People’s approval will follow when the artist’s craft becomes aligned with his purpose. Until then just keep putting work out into the world. Or just play Xbox all day, its all the same.

  4. kerri says:

    Bill I’m up at some crazy hour reading your writing…about 12309140 months prego.
    Thanks for sharing some insights into your soul…it’s healing for so many others and I pray for you as well.
    I will always have fond, charming memories of our friendship and the fact remains you will suceed in whatever you put your mind/heart into..no doubt! I just pray for you it’s as fufilling inside and out as you need it to be!

  5. Carmelo Foxe says:

    Awesome blog.Really thank you! Really Great.

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