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Musings from a Burning Man Virgin
by Stacy Miller

Learning to ride a bike. High school graduation. Losing my virginity.

These were all events÷landmarks really÷that I looked forward to with great anticipation and trepidation. These were all events that I felt would change my life forever÷benchmarks to measure my personal growth against.

This is how I view Burning Man.

I first heard about Burning Man about a year ago on a local radio station. I was new to San Francisco and was being bombarded with tons of cool and interesting-sounding events. Burning Man was one of them. A three-day festival where thousands of people from all walks of life come to stake out a patch of earth in the desert÷to socialize, dance, swim, think, do drugs, make art÷and at the end, burn down a giant wooden structure of a man. That alone was enough to convince me that I wanted to go.

Then, as I made friends in the city, I began to discover that there was far more to Burning Man than camping and a big bonfire. I started hearing other stories. Stories of new insights into life goals and careers. Long-term couples breaking up. Others renewing commitments. Changes in philosophies. And all in a fun-in-the-sun type of environment. It really sounded too good to be true. What is it about this event that draws artists, ravers, philosophers and probably a few pyromaniacs? Maybe there's magic in that desert sand? Or maybe it's the combination of dehydration and drugs.

Whatever it is÷and it's probably different for everyone÷I can't wait to experience it for myself. I've even packed my sensible black flats to burn in effigy. I'm looking forward to Burning Man to help me find a stronger sense of self, to clarify my career goals, and maybe even to come closer to finding the meaning of life.

At the very least, I know I'll get a good tan.

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