I'm having a heartbroken afternoon, and I'm pretty sure it's because I'm not going back to Burning Man, at least not for a very long time. It keeps coming back to one thing: the phones.
Somehow, that change over all the others has cut me deep. Hearing people bitch about poor reception. Daily updates about what's going on in the outside world. People sitting around camp staring at shit on the internet. It all feels like vandalism to something that means so much to me.
It used to be so magical--that long journey out, following mountain roads and rivers to the place where an alien landscape took hold and the data connection died. This was the process of going to another world, one that was temporary and beautiful and that you could only visit briefly. (Really, they are all that way.)
Maybe it's that I'm a forest creature stuck living in a day-to-day where people are zombies staring at screens all the time, breaking conversations to answer noises on a machine, not idle for more than nanoseconds before the boredom tick of scrolling on the phone takes over. The pointless treadmill of meaningless novelty, hitting the button for connectedness and missing it the whole time. That burns me; my own abstinence is imperfect, and has no impact on the tide coming in on me, anyway.
I love those places that remain sacred, untainted by those bastard toys, their nagging for attention and indulgences of narcissism. Maybe it's time to let go of the idea that Black Rock City can be one of those places. But, man, it hurts.
I'm going to put my energy into creating new worlds. I'll find other remote places teeming with feral energy. I have other things to do in life, so it seems a bit silly to feel so sad about outgrowing this one. But, it's been precious to me for a long time. All of my adult life so far. I've fought this corner. The wild experiment changed me.
It might turn out that I miss hitchhiking on art cars and making possibility in the starkest dry dust too much to stay away. But, for the foreseeable future, I think it's time to accept that I can't stand in the face of this change and hope for a pivot. Maybe I can find a new way to be involved with this crazy place, where I can pitch myself into projects with other folks that want to shine up the immediacy and involvement in our ephemeral, imaginary city.
For now, though, I can tell you this: Convenience is death to purpose.
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