What to expect and
how to cope
by Hurricane Linda
If this is
your first year at Burning Man, it must seem pretty amazing, huh? But let me
warn you: the Burning Man experience doesn't necessarily end here on the playa.
There's a distinct set of symptoms known to hit Newbies after they leave the
Burning Man festival, known as Post-Playa Syndrome.
the syndrome is not merely limited to first-timers. However, those experienced
with PPS are usually better able to cope with it. Knowing what to expect is
key, so don't be caught by surprise if you experience the following stages of
Stage One: You're home. You've taken that first bath, had
that first uninterrupted eight hours of sleep, pumiced the feet, lotioned the
sunburn. There's a blissful afterglow,
and a feeling of pride that you chose the best possible way to spend your Labor
Day weekend. Enjoy it while you can.
Stage Two: Back to the grind. Depending on your work
environment, you may find it difficult, or even totally disallowable, to
accurately answer your co-worker's inane "Did you have a nice
weekend?" queries. You may also find yourself steeped in superiority when
listening to insipid chatter about the picnics, television, and consumerism
they occupied themselves with while you were on the playa, living a life that
they couldn't possibly visualize.
thing to be conscious of during Stage Two: Try to bear in mind that it is no
longer okay to strip naked in public, no matter how hot it is.
Stage Three: All of us have friends and family members that
didn't or couldn't get out here to Black Rock City. If these people are patient
and understanding, they will not berate you for your inability to stop uttering
"Burning Man" for periods of greater than five minutes. Be patient
with them too, and realize that, as difficult as it may be to believe, after
six months of hearing your incessant yammering, they may actually consider the
topic boring. It's impossible at this stage to stop talking, thinking, and
dreaming about Burning Man, so the only real solution is to spend as much time
as possible with sympathetic parties, i.e. your fellow Burning Nerds. More than
likely, there are a few in your hometown, and this is the time when those
internet Burning Man bulletin boards really come in handy.
Stage Four. By this stage, there will be a few twenty-four
hour periods where you actually manage not
to talk about Burning Man to everyone you meet. However, you'll still find it
difficult to resist asking, "Have you ever heard of Burning Man?" to
anyone you meet who seems like they may be sympathetic.
Stage Five. Six months have gone by. Finally, you've made it
past the halfway point to next year's Burn! Now is the time to start those
free-for-all brainstorming sessions with your campmates. Yes, you've got to
make everything bigger and better than last year. Go wild, and let your
imagination run free ÷ don't worry, you'll downsize all your
"brilliant" ideas in Stage Six.
is the time to realize that it's not always going to be possible to convince
others to commit to going, no matter how sure you are that they'll enjoy it. If
they know you, they've heard of Burning Man; the rest is up to them. The best
that you can do is point them to http://www.burningman.com and hope that
they'll see the light.
Stage Six: Now you can legitimately feel that you aren't
being silly in beginning earnest preparations for the next Burn. But it's
during this stage that you may have to come to grips with the fact that you
aren't really going to build a
full-scale replica of the village from The
Prisoner, or learn to juggle six chainsaws while firebreathing, or build a
papier-machˇ version of the Batcave by Labor Day. That's okay. Just take the
one really great idea you think you can accomplish, and get to work on it.
Finally, a direction for your energies!
Stage Seven. Welcome. You are now a seasoned Burning Man
veteran and Newbies will come to you for advice. It's up to you to choose which
attitude to adopt: the cynical "It ain't what it used to be" 'tude,
the patronizing "Oh, you silly Newbies" posture, or the loving
"Welcome all!" pose.
may be difficult to deal with at times, Post-Playa Syndrome is manageable. Good
luck, and see you next year.