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Editor’s Notebook: September 2013

by Greta Belanger deJong

It all started on August 12, when I started looking at photos online of last year’s Burning Man event in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. I had made a firm decision that, for only the second time in 13 years, I was not going. I’d spent two weeks in July at the Boulder Mountain Ranch in a permaculture design certification course. I was headed to the Telluride Mushroom Festival. I aspire to attend the Bioneers conference in San Rafael California this fall. My fun-and-growth budget was allocated elsewhere this year.

Then someone posted stellar photos of last year’s burn online. I recalled the sights, sensations, the sense of freedom riding my bike like the wind, the camaraderie among my family and campmates. The seed of lust had been sown.

I held fast to my commitment. I was not going. But temptation seeped out of every crack. “No. No….” I listened to all the reasons in my head. They were sound. Reasonable.

At first, I was seduced by beauty. (Check out these images if you’re wondering what I’m talking about: http://stuckincustoms.smugmug.com/Burning-Man-Page). A few days later, there were these: http://dankrauss.blogspot.com/2012/09/ back-to-moon-burning-man-2012.html.

Then I went off to the Telluride Mush­room Festival, which in several ways is like Burning Man, only more academic and a lot more humid. I learned about mycoremediation—using mushroom mycelium to reclaim toxic soil and water. I met Eugenia Bone, author of Mycophilia: Revelations From the Weird World of Mushrooms, whose writing you will likely see in CATALYST soon; hung out with our good friend Art Goodtimes; forayed with legendary mycologist Gary Lincoff; got inspired by Robert Rogers, author of Fungal Pharmacy, to grow medicinal mushrooms; learned the latest in psychedelic research from Johns Hopkins’ Maggie Klinedinst.

Two days after my return to town, I saw Spark: A Burning Man Story at Brewvies. I saw friends—experienced Burners, and one who was going for the first time this year. The lust flared but did not consume me.

Then life began conspiring. First, a series of rather major personal events occurred. I suddenly felt like a startled hen who’d been snapped out of her broodiness and would much rather explore the garden than sit on her nest.

Second, as if on cue, the social pressure began. Facebook posts, texts, even a few old-fashioned emails and phone calls fueled the flames of my growing desire.

I found myself wanting to consult the Oracle Within, accessed best in that dusty, sun-drenched city’s temple, a magnificent structure that absorbs the love and suffering of the city’s dwellers and then burns to the ground on Sunday night. It is a place of wholeheartedness.

In two days’ time, I’d done an about-face. I could barely remember not wanting to go to Black Rock City this year. I began the hunt for a ticket. They are like gold, only harder to find.

It is now Wednesday. The tribe began gathering Sunday night. They will disperse next Sunday or Monday. We go to press in 10 minutes. I will cruise the Internet one last time for a ticket, then make peace with my fate. The Oracle is, after all, Within. And lust passes, yes? Yes? Tell me yes.