Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Temple of Flux

Temple of Flux
Originally uploaded by EspressoBuzz

A time-lapse panorama of the Temple at Burning Man 2010. Created by fellow Flickr member EspressoBuzz. The structure was known as the Temple of Flux and it was a very inspiring and reverent place.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Can I Get A Witness?


No....You Can't

Disclaimer: First of all, this little essay might not sit too well with some folks. So let me lay down some ground rules. I am not anti-religion, nor do I take the attitude that one religion is better or superior to another. One of my core values is that everyone has the ‘right’ to pray to any God and worship in any way they want. That includes Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Druids, Catholics, Lutherans, Devil Worshipers, etc., etc., etc.

However, I need to point out a little issue that some of the more ‘faithful’ may not have realized. The world has changed people. Religious majorities are no longer confined to geographic areas. All religions are global these days.

This past weekend we had dinner with a friend of my wife’s that we helped out of a jam a few weeks ago. She returned the favor by inviting us over for a home cooked meal. I wasn’t going to complain because, hey, free food and I didn’t have to do the dishes (well, actually I did, but that is a different blog).

This friend of my wife is going through some hard times right now. She is working part time since being laid off from her job. Her roommate is moving out, so she is going to have to find a new place to live. She is 50+, divorced and childless. She is currently looking for her prince charming to come and make her life all better.

She is also very religious. Catholic to be exact, and all through the dinner conversation she was invoking the name of God, and what she had done in church that week and saying grace before the meal, and shouting “Can I Get A Witness”, whenever she came up with a good word in our after-dinner game of Scrabble.

If going to mass every day (which she does) and hanging on the Pope’s every word makes her day, that is fine. But proselytising to the non-believers isn’t, which is what she was doing.

Listen up people. This isn’t the 1950s where everyone in your town worships the same God in the same way. We are a melting pot today and there are hundreds of different faiths and worshiping styles on every city block.

I don’t think you would want to raise a toast to Afganistan and shout “Allah Akbar!!!” if you have Jewish friends at the table. Likewise, I am not too keen on some Hindu making an offering to Ganesha in the corner of the room before every meal, and I certainly don’t want the devote Shiite living next door out in his back yard three times a day praying to Mecca over a loud speaker.

If you want to worship, fine. Say grace to yourself before you start wolfing down your food. Don’t worry, God will still hear you. (Speaking of which, shouldn’t you be thanking Walmart and Matsushita Heavy Industry for producing that warehouse raised beef and chicken that is chock full of steroids and anti-biotics? I don’t think God has a lot to do with that food.)

Every time you perform a religious ritual in front of others, it is an affront to their beliefs unless they share your same religion with the appropriate zeal.....and most of us don’t.

You have the right to believe what ever you want. But it is inconsiderate and offense to shove it in everyone else's face.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Default World

From Burning Man 2010

The Man - On Tuesday Night

Burning Man and the trip there and back again.

This isn't going to be a recount of my most recent trip to Burning Man. Time has taught me that no matter how much someone tries to describe the event, it fails to really capture what it is all about. It is similar to saying that the Grand Canyon is this really, really, big ditch out in the desert. Until you have seen it, words won't be enough.

From Burning Man 2010

Playa Art - HDR Image

This was bolstered by my traveling companions on this most recent trip. They included my wife, her friend Mary and our realtor/friend Bruce. All of them stated the same thing. They were amazed at the event and found in indescribable. By the end of our second day they were all making plans for what they would do on their 'next' trip to Burning Man.

I am still picking up the pieces from the whole vacation. The standard series of events for attending Burning Man is to run around for almost 2 months prior trying to get all my ducks in a row before leaving. This is often a monumental task. Then there is driving to and attending the event, which usually takes upwards of eight days which is a whirlwind of activity of a different sort. Finally, there is the long trip back to what we call the "default" world, which is another way of saying 'reality'.

Phase one of this years trip was stressful. I had a lot to do and a lot to coordinate. Add to this, the stress at my job of being short staffed and overworked didn't make planning for the pending vacation any easier.

From Burning Man 2010

Dancing Bliss - Playa Art Installation

However, once on the road, this all tends to melt away as our stressful lives fade in the rearview mirror. I have commented in my past Burning Man blogs about how much I love the drive up through central Nevada. Most find this the most boring and desolate drive on earth, but I find it quite the opposite. I have made this trek at least eight times before and I find it more and more relaxing every time I drive it. The fact that there is still this much 'space' on our planet that isn't inhabited by anyone is a comfort to me. There are still some places we can escape to in order to be totally alone. If I didn't know these places still existed, I think I would go insane.

Once at Burning Man, it was back to roughing it in the great outdoors with 60,000 other like-minded lunatics. We slept whenever we wanted, ate what ever we wanted (and we ate a lot of unhealthy food) and communed with all the other creative burners that camped around us.

This is where things got a bit different. As we age and times change, the world has different effects on us. We change like the seasons and the weight of the world molds us into different people as the years go by.

From Burning Man 2010

Robo-Duck - Pedal Powered Art Car

At Burning Man, I found myself napping in my geodesic dome and just day dreaming with no hurry or worry about really accomplishing anything. THAT is what stuck with me as I headed back to civilization (the default world). I never get to daydream without a clock or a to-do list hanging over my head anymore. At Burning Man I did, and as everything simplified itself during my stay, I could feel the physical stress leave my body. The stress of having deadlines to meet and projects to complete. During Burning Man, all I had to think about was expanding my mind and communing with friends and neighbors. It was sort of like a techno-garden of eden.

On the trip back to the Default World we had booked a room in the small town of Beatty, Nevada. Better known as having a 'house of ill-repute' called "Angels Ladies" (it is legal there ya know), it is also the essence of a small desert town in the middle of nowhere. We had booked the rooms to take a break on our way back and take an endless hot shower and get a really good hot meal. Both of which are in short supply at Burning Man.

That night as I was sleeping, I dreamed. But they were not the happy, carefree dreams that I had at Burning Man. They were dreams of clock punching and meetings and deadlines. All those things that awaited me back in the default world. I awoke in the middle of the night, my jaw and fist clenched, just like I had done before leaving for 'The Man'.

From Burning Man 2010

The Beginning of the End

"This isn't good.", I said to myself.

This was all similar to drug withdrawal, but I couldn't figure out which was better. It became apparent that I was addicted to the stimulation that modern society and work gives my mind, and it sort of feeds on it. I have one of those brains that is constantly looking for something to do. The inability to get 'everything' done causes the stress.

Take away all the stimulus (like going to Burning Man) and my analytical mind just sort of wanders off and goes lax. Put me back in Phoenix, Arizona, and I start prioritizing and making lists again. They both have their advantages. One is more productive in a way and the other isn't, but I am not sure which one I should be striving for.

From Burning Man 2010

The Burning Man

I suppose I am looking for a balance. A state of mind where I can do and prioritize things, but do them at my own pace. Not at the pace of a failed economic system that tries to squeeze more and more productivity out of fewer and fewer mismanaged workers.

From Burning Man 2010

Beatty, Nevada, on the journey home

So I am back to dreaming those analytical, problem solving dreams. And my wife is back to her odd dreams, usually involving bathrooms and being lost.

Somewhere way down on my list is the next Burning Man project. I am not sure what it will be, but I am leaning toward a motorized sofa to drive around on the Playa.......stay tuned.

(click on the images for full resolution, all pictures shot with a Panasonic Lumix Digital Camera. For more images of this years Burning Man, check out my Flickr Page.