This is What Life Feels Like After Burning Man

August 12, 2013
the Burning Man

Finally after three long years of wanting to go, I made it to Burning Man.

Now, mind you, I had camped out on the playa two years ago after graduate school one amazing night under a full moon and even got to enjoy the often off-limits hot springs. That was bar none the most special night of my life as the playa is magical no matter if Burning Man takes place there or not.

But with that being said, I just spent the last seven days of my life living in harsh desert conditions, eating a quarter of the food I normally do–and for a hypoglycemic, that is a huge feat–showering only twice in seven days and not brushing my hair even once.  And though covered in a fine mist of dust, I felt as if I had died and gone to heaven.

39,800+ people shared with me the most amazing experience I have ever encountered, and I can only now just begin to think about it or talk about it knowing I will not and cannot do it justice. My passion in life is to experience as much as possible and normally I can share them with people, but this was something different. Something that each and everyone one of us can do, see and feel differently. Someone once said to me, “Imagine trying to explain a rainbow to a blind person,” and that is exactly how difficult it is to explain Burning Man.

Though covered in a fine mist of dust, I felt as if I had died and gone to heaven.

All week long friends kept asking me what I thought and I would deadpan answer, “This place sucks. I wanna go home,” and then I would just laugh my ass off at the inane question and continue playing!

Sure, I can talk about the fact that it is the largest leave-no-trace event in the world. That it is about radical self-reliance and self-expression. That is the largest exhibition of art, living art and performance art that I have ever seen in my whole life and all of it takes place in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.

That it is essentially an experimental community of like-minded individuals who refuse to stand by and just spectate but instead choose to participate in creating a temporary community to live and love and laugh for one week out of the year. Oh and then they burn an effigy of man! But can I tell you more than that? I can try, but I can’t do more than that really.

Will it remain this way? I don’t know yet. I wish I could just plug you into my memory bank to hear my stories, feel my experiences and see my image pool. Sadly, I could not even take pictures. Sure I took some but if you knew me, you’d understand the seriousness of that comment. I did not even pick up my media pass, which would have afforded me better opportunities to shoot.

Essentially, since I have returned, I feel like I am high but mostly numb, as if I am on a never-ending trip. You know you hear about people who get high and never really come back, well I wonder if this is what it feels like. I mean I can certainly function, though at a lower capacity than what I am used to, but I am fuzzy and groggy and feel almost exhausted by the simplest of thoughts and movements, which are made even more intense by the jolting, static, almost harsh movement of life around me here in the default world.

Will I ever gain a sense of normalcy back or will I just stare blankly and vacantly through tears from now on?

Right now I cannot seem to handle the speed of this world, which I have returned to.  I can’t seem to talk, walk or drive at anywhere near the lightning fast speed that the rest of the world is moving at. Nor can I seem to find reasons as to why have I drained every bit of serotonin from my body. Am I that underwhelmed, as I heard someone say.  Will I ever gain a sense of normalcy back or will I just stare blankly and vacantly through tears from now on?

Is this what they mean by decompressing? Is this what it feels like? Because I do feel very compacting inside my vessel, like extra pounds of pressure have been forced upon me and are aiming everything inward, making it difficult to look up, out or even articulate much less have control over my motor skills. Every movement, every thought, and every simple action is a laboriously fraught task.

Gone are the miles of smiles from strangers. Back are the downward glances and insincere gestures of strangers. I want back the innumerable hugs and kisses from strangers just for crossing their path! I want back the glowing demeanor of the tribe I left behind. Oddly enough, all week long people kept saying wholeheartedly to each other, “Welcome home!”  But it is not until this very moment that I truly understand what they meant, and I finally feel it completely because, “This place sucks and I want to go home!”

About Doxie Kaltz

Doxie Katz lives in Michigan and looks forward to attending Burning Man each year.

2 thoughts on “This is What Life Feels Like After Burning Man

  1. doxie
    September 12, 2013

    Nice to hear it was compelling for you!! 2006 was not only my first Burning Man it my first ever festival experience…so it was overload for me.

    This year I found Burning Man to be a bit lonely to be honest. This year was hard work, literally as I work for the man now and had long hours and when they were over finding my friends was pretty much impossible. But I did shoot a flame thrower with one of my best buddies, helped burn 47 amazing projects with the supervision of a great boss, worked on one of the “hottest” teams on playa, learned so much from that team through teamwork and challenges, made some hard decisions and meet some solid people while making a few promises to myself.. only breaking one so far. Not so bad.

    That said this year I was very happy to come home.. to my home! I really enjoy coming home to fall in Detroit. And this year I come home to nest and focus on myself and my personal growth.

    I am not any different on the playa than I am here at home.. there is no ‘default world’ for me any longer.. I live the principles daily; I don’t need to go to Burning Man to become something or someone else. And I find that peaceful.

    I will say though that I have had very intense post playa dreams this year which I have not had since 2006. Dreams where my bed is an art car.. I’m stilling working the burns, and the playa is in my bedroom.. crazy stuff… but fun.. sort of.. for awhile!

    Looking forward to a year of personal adventure and thoughts on how to balance the trip to the playa with work on the playa.. wish me luck!


  2. Lil
    September 12, 2013

    I’d add in contrast, I don’t feel exhausted, but more contemplative of the simplest thoughts and movements- they are more intense, more compelling.

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