Radical Self Reliance: thoughts from Burning Man 2015

It’s Burning Man season! Be warned: This is all I’ll be talking about until mid Feb 2018. With that, let’s get on to tonight’s thought:

There are a lot of people who are super sad these days. Angry. Offended. Scared. I feel bad for them, because I’ve seen this other way of living:

Burning Man is a brilliant primordial soup of human potential, creativity, and possibility unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I’ve never seen so many people acting in so many beautiful ways. Our dusty home in the desert is governed by 10 Principles. Principle #4 is “Radical Self Reliance” and it goes like this:

“Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.”

On the surface, this means that you are solely in charge of bringing your own:

  • water
  • food
  • shelter
  • fuel
  • electricity
  • sunscreen

Burning Man is a place of abundance! There is always extra to go around, and usually extra stuff to bring home. When you get 75,000 people together who have all taken seriously the idea of self reliance, synergies occur and tremendous excess is the result. If someone happens to fall on hard times once out there – like, if your tent burns down – chances are that people around you will have you taken care of in no time at all and back to the party.

“Radical self reliance” goes beyond physical provisions: it’s about taking responsibility for my own experience. Not just on the Playa, but in the rest of life as well. I am in charge of my own feelings. Nobody can “make me” feel anything unless I allow them to. Being offended is a choice. Being happy and blissfully content is a choice.

A wise old desert dweller once said,

“He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool.”

(B. Young)

Anyway – that’s it for now. I’ll be posting more from my last burn as I get packed up during the next few days.

THE MAN burns in 16 days!!

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