ALNgoes.

“Burn” After Reading

I’m lying on my bed as sick as a dog. It’s raining, my phone is persistently on airplane mode and I’m not quite ready to resynch into my everyday life. My phone has been harassing me and urging me to update apps, sync my data and look at all my notifications for the past couple of days and I’m not having it. Lord, I haven’t even paid my bills! Uhh. I’m not sure what I expected after doing something like Afrika Burn. Heck I’m not sure what I expected going there in the first place. I have many friends that have been and have had interesting things to say without really saying much. I’m pretty much in that situation.

This isn’t going to be the usual blow by blow review I give for ALNgoes posts. I guess it’s just going to be a short post just to share a bit of the experience of going to something like this. Even as I type this out I feel a little heavy and depressive. It may be the flu and the meds I’m taking, or the dark night sky or definitely, maybe the acoustic version of MUNA’s “Crying On The Bathroom Floor” coming out of my speakers. It also may be the aftermath of spending days on end in the arid plains of the Tankwa Karoo with no cell reception and nothing but art, music and humans to interact with.

I was fortunate enough to be part of a big theme camp that consisted of some of the most outrageous, talented, loving and shamelessly caring individuals from all over the world. I couldn’t have imagined from the moment we met in Cape Town and hit the road to the burn in a convoy of taxis and trailers that I would feel so much love from these total strangers, who I previously only knew as cellphone numbers in a WhatsApp group. This certainly happens anywhere I’m sure but there is something about being so disconnected from such a connected world and having to go back to the very basics. There were no handles, nothing to hide behind – just you, your contribution and your spirit.

There were many other camps and we were just a blimp in this manmade town which included a taxi service, bars, clubs, mutant vehicles, movie cinemas, a “burniversity” (I still don’t know what the curriculum was over there), yoga studios, a number of coffee bars and just about anything else you can imagine. It was all very unreal. Even looking up at the moon felt like I was looking at it from a planet which wasn’t Earth. The type of aliens and creatures that inhabited this space with me were extraordinary. The level of self-expression, the freedom of being and the pricelessness of love and sharing was immense.

My own revelation from walking the streets of Afrika Burn, climbing structures, tripping, going beyond, dancing until my soul lit fire and viewing some of the most creative and beautiful art is that being open, raw and true is a gift in itself. You may not get a pat on the back for it, but it sure feels amazing that what and who you are is enough. I’ve never hugged so much, laughed so much and told so many people how great they were in so many consecutive days. I fell in love with at least 5 times, found and lost a lover, kissed a familiar mouth, wandered off into the desert, spoke to the moon and watched interstellar communication from a magic carpet. This all sounds so kumbaya and glorious I’m sure, but this is my own take away from this experience. Trust and believe that there were some annoying moments, chance takers, abusive sandstorms and interesting camp dynamics. Put people anywhere in an isolated space with limited resources, harsh weather and just watch what happens. We even laughed about how it was like Survivor meets Big Brother and who would be voted off first in the camp or kept in an alliance because of special skills like cooking, camp maintenance, DJ’ing and such. I’ve certainly formed some lifelong friendships from the family we created this past week. Thank you to you all for the feels, the group hugs and unforgettable dance moves.

I wish such an experience didn’t come at such a great cost, but that’s the reality of creating an entire town in the desert. Getting there, eating, drinking and everything else-ing for a week can get hella costly. Now that I’ve seen and felt what it’s all about I can 100 percent recommend it to anyone with the means. I also know I am privileged to even be able to go to something like this and participate in the  way that I did. Sheesh! Didn’t I say this was going to be short? Hehe. Oh well. It was a lot, I don’t know why I thought I’d be short.

‘Come as you are for you are the only one’. That is the working title that came to me over and over during my time there. The title of this years burn was ‘The Working Title is ______”. Part my experience and part an installation name of one of the dancing spots I frequented. I appreciate everything from this experience and can safely say I have a few more burns left in me. When they will be? Who knows. Right now I need to resync and get ready for the real world.

 

For the day to day lewks head on over to the Burn style post.

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