“…for six days in the desert, I experienced the beauty of life and good in people in so many ways.”
With only a short bike ride left to go, I prayed that the cloud of dust I saw accumulating in the near distance would hold off just in time for me to reach the temple. My nerves tensed just a little bit as I peddled faster. My heart raced. I had been through one sandstorm earlier that day and knew that if the storm was very big I would have to turn around and head back to camp. Either way, I had to stop for a minute and prepare, so I braked, put one foot down on the hard earth and pulled out my goggles. That would protect my eyes. My face and mouth were next and fortunately I had the perfect tool for that, my colorful green scarf. As I reached down to unwind the scarf from my neck and pull it up around my face and mouth, I felt an amazing sense of comfort and companionship. What if I hadn’t picked this beautiful scarf out of my mother’s closet just a week before my first adventure into Black Rock City? Wearing it proudly and now peddling without fear, I forged on to the Temple of Juno and continued my life-changing experience at Burning Man.
Coming here had been a spur of the moment decision. Convinced by friends to join them with one week to go before the festival, I purchased a ticket to San Francisco and hurried to get ready, emotionally and physically. I often dreamt of attending Burning Man, both for the art and the emotional experience. Yet, each year that passed, there was always something that seemed to come up. Now I was committed and had to pack and get ready quickly; no easy task for a woman to begin with and made harder by the fact that I was traveling to a desert with temperatures fluctuating between 40 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit and sandstorms blowing 50 mile-per-hour winds. I also had to pack light. Knowing that my mother had a closet full of clothes I could borrow, I headed to her house to complete my task.
I sifted through the closet, grabbing a few shirts and pants. I knew I wanted bright, colorful clothes. From what I had read, Burning Man was all about expressing oneself. Costumes were also abundant. Fortunately, I found the perfect piece, a vibrant green scarf with yellow highlights, large enough to use as a skirt and perfect for an over the shoulder sash or a scarf. Very light and compact, it was perfect for packing. It was something I could also take to remind me of my mother (and best friend) during the trip.
If I tried to tell you all about my whole experience at Burning Man it would be a novel. The art installations, 50,000 personalities you meet and overall spectacle is indescribable. What I can tell you is that for six days in the desert, I experienced the beauty of life and good in people in so many ways. The experience opened my eyes to how people can be so caring and giving. Oftentimes separated from my group and on my own, I was given water when thirsty and food when hungry. When meeting new people, I was not judged or analyzed. There was realness to it, and it made me put my life in perspective. Earlier in my life, I had a hard time being alone. I also felt a need to be in control of situations, and when not, I would become stressed and lose confidence. At Burning Man, I found myself frequently alone AND without set plans, but surprisingly felt completely secure. It was liberating. I saw the beauty in everyone supporting each other. People treated each other like long lost friends, finding common ground instead of differences. Even my last day there, having no transportation out of the desert, I made it to Reno with help from a group of people I had met only one night before.
Now, you may be wondering if I ever made it safely to the Temple of Juno. I did! The threatening cloud of dust dissipated after all, clearing my path. From the outside, the building and its tower loomed high in the sky, its presence almost overwhelming. With its three occupied floors, large altar space and intricate cedar wood detail, it was an architectural wonderment. In anticipation, I laid down my bike, walked into the center and bathed in its empowerment. I soaked in all of the adorations, memorials and transcripts that adorned the altar space, and with each breath I took, I contributed my own. I felt a sense of spirituality and liberation, confidence and personal strength. Wanting to share this experience with my mother, I clenched the green scarf in my hands. With tears now trickling down my face, I soaked in every last bit of emotion, turned and stepped back into the desert. I was forever changed.
Thank you Nathalia for sharing your awesome story and scarf. We've repurposed it and created "Story Tags" like you see below to be sewn on new elovate.us t-shirts. So that we can connect with each other and make new stories to share.