XyloVan on Burn night – a blessing of flame and ashes, or What’s It All For?

At some point we all seek meaning in our lives.

Some dive into religion headfirst, damning all who fail to follow them and shaming the very values they claim to hold dear. Others plunge themselves into work, drugs, sex, gaming – or even a quiet spirituality that has little to do with god or gods.

But the more we learn, the more obvious it becomes that our time here is limited, so we all run around willy-nilly trying to either ignore death or plug into what we perceive to be immortality.

I guess I’m somewhere between those two camps. Raised Catholic, I walked away from the Church at 20 when I learned how deeply soaked in blood, money, power and misogyny the institution itself really is. I try to keep what really matters from that dogma close – love, respect, charity, empathy – and I do believe the communal energy that humans share is something approaching divine.

But mostly, I think we’re just plain lucky to be alive on this pinprick of light somewhere in the belly of a small galaxy in a massive universe – and we’d better spend our time making the most of it for ourselves and those around us before the light goes out.

That’s why I built this thing – and it has paid me back a hundredfold.

Burning Man – the raw creativity, the debauchery, the noise, the ritual of torching the man on Saturday night – is not a religion. It’s a relentless, if Brigadoon-brief dedication to life and to art and to each other.

If that’s not a crystalline kernel of meaning, a reason for living that’s worth throwing hundreds of hours of your life and thousands of dollars of your hard-earned money at, worth slicing your fingers open, filling your nose with aluminum dust, depriving yourself of sleep, worth stomping through hellacious dust storms and standing close enough to the fire to hurt, well then I’ve probably missed the Entire Point. Let me know what that is, soon as you can figure it out.

Meantime, I always liked Bill Hicks‘ little riff about the purpose of educating each other – “so that we can all learn, evolve and get the fuck off this planet.”

And with that thought close to mind, here are the videos of the Burn. Enjoy:

2 thoughts on “XyloVan on Burn night – a blessing of flame and ashes, or What’s It All For?”

  1. A true indicator of an authentic spiritual experience is its capacity to suppress the cynical adult voice in us, and allow the dormant child within to speak. As such, Mack’s call to “Light it, already!” in the first video certainly qualifies…

    It’s been more than a decade since I went – I don’t remember there being that much fireworks before the burn. Wow. Did somebody get a bulk discount? Maybe it’s because so many cities, counties & etc. had to cut back on their 4th of July festivities these past few years that lots of cordite-smelling things that go “BANG!” were lying around…? At any rate, but build-up was certainly worth it.

    Deeply regret that we could not be at this with you in our physical essences, but rest assured, we were there with you in our souls. And perhaps in some stray sweat & hair follicles stuck to the $#&!! heavy roof rack…

  2. Yeah, the fireworks budget has grown rather Sino-Soviet in proportion – big stuff meant to please the crowd. I remember the first year I went in ’96, there was a brief if lively fire conclave, and then a guy in a fire retardant suit lit himself, ran up the hay-bale foundation, touched his glaming hands to a few key spots and capered out of site to meet the safety crew with the fire extinguishers while the man went up in a pure orange blaze. No fireworks, no monkey business.

    Next time we burn, we hope you can drag you along in any case, the playa was positively seething with art and energy this year – bodes well for the community.

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