Welcome to 2016! Check out this graphic of the Maslow Hierarchy and climb all the way to the top if you dare. Echo smith’s “Shine Bright” is a great song for this post. Thanks Dan for editing this post for me.
Life is for the living, and you are doing it RIGHT NOW!!! Even while you are reading my writing, you’re losing another precious moment of your life – possibly your only one. But, the cool thing is, if you want to win at living, all you have to do is be your own superhero. It’s like the phrase we see on all those CrossFit shirts – and it makes sense.
Are you afraid of what might happen if you fully embrace your uniqueness and awesomeness and let it all shine out for the world to see? That, to me, is what Burning Man is all about. Finding the unique special light in you, and figuring out the best way to shine it on the world and spread it around – before the universe puts you out like it does all of us eventually. Only you know what your heart yearns for, but you have to let go of any preconceived notions of what is important. Start over with just you, the desert, death, the universe and some other people. That’s how we burners find our inner light. Mix those chemicals together and see what kind of beautiful art comes out on the other side of the equation. And dance a lot under the stars.
Holding back just seems so silly to me. We are all dying, right now, technically. So, why not just try whatever it is your heart is yearning to try? Why not take some risks to dream big? Assuming it’s something that is an overall good thing, not something that will harm someone else, why ever not?
Oh, right – you might FAIL!
But, who cares? It’s better than not trying, eventually then dying with regret.
Oh, someone might judge you?
Who cares, it’s YOU who decides whether their judgement matters to YOU and changes YOUR behavior or YOUR attitude. Burning Man is about decoupling your own happiness from what others think of you – at least to me. It’s where I discovered what it meant to be me. And now, despite having no clue what comes after this life, I’m not afraid to die the way I used to be so terrified, right after I stopped believing in god. Because every day, to the best of my ability, I am shining bright.
I’d love to keep living as long as possible, and I plan for the future. I’m a responsible adult and I save, and I don’t live like the grasshopper in that old story. It’s just that I found a way to accept that I’m just another part of this beautiful universe, destined to turn into dust again, and that I really want to make this life count in a way I’ve chosen for myself. We’re all imperfect evolved monkeys, but this life is all we have.
I think that’s why we’re here, to discover for ourselves our own meaning of our own existence, which is something we can only decide for ourselves by looking into our own hearts. I’m not going to be afraid to explore myself and live passionately in my short time here. I am living to be me, so whatever anyone thinks of it, I don’t worry about it.
One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Seuss: “Be who you are, and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”. Take it from the Doctor – life is too short to turn down your light, because it might just go out before you get to turn it back up again.
I used to be so afraid of social judgement, as a big nerd who used to get teased a lot growing up. My mom was a teacher at my elementary school so, of course, that ended up being a good reason for some kids to make fun of me. Or if I was too different, those kiddos will make sure you know you gotta keep in line. It’s probably a tribally evolved thing, enforced social cohesion maybe, but do we really need that anymore? The people who did big things in their lives didn’t become bad ass without taking risks, dreaming big, and being ridiculed for those traits.
To me, being me is freedom, the deepest freedom I have ever felt. Burning Man gave me that freedom. I know I am living as me to the best of my ability every day and I’m doing my best to be my own superhero, my own badass, and connect authentically with everyone I meet as far as possible. My main goal in life is to make everyone I meet feel to the core of their being how unique and special they are. Because they ARE!!!! Seriously, each of us is an incredibly unique mix of genes, epigenetics, brain chemistry and structure, consciousness, soul, whatever, we are special. We are all going the same place when the music stops. But, there are these crazy people who think they are going somewhere special and I’m doomed because god hates me – so I am supposed to think he didn’t make me a believer and that’s why I doubt?
Religion and culture want to give us a pre-defined hero project to let ourselves feel like our lives have a purpose so we can keep going on and procreating. Ernest Becker, who I think was a genius and understood humans better than most, thinks most people need that structure, an easy way to be your own superhero, just be society or your religion’s hero, follow the rules, and you’ll get a spot in heaven and your life is full of awesome meaning, so you can get up every day and do the work to pass on your genes, despite being one of the only species that technically lives in terror of death every day. Think about it! (which you should, it’s a great stoic practice). Ernest Becker thought that culture and religion gives us the feeling that we are on a team with the good guys, beating the bad guys. Just follow their rules, blah blah, live by what THEY want for your one precious life on this planet.
I guess a lot of people need that!
I find the mysteriousness of our existence fascinating. I find the meaninglessness of my own existence beautiful. I find not knowing the answers to be better than knowing them. So it’s really hard for me to even contemplate wanting to do what society tells me to do, to follow the rules they made and win their game. That never had any appeal to me whatsoever. Does it appeal to other people? Am I completely biased in my entire understanding of human nature by being stuck in the bizarre brain of a physicist chick? Is it impossible for me to understand my species due to my own oddness? Well – I’ll try anyway!
I’m honest about how weird my mental processes are, because they are a part of who I am and yours are a part of who you are; so share your thinking, ideas, etc. We all process information due to our different brain structures and chemistries and who knows what else? Same info in, different stuff out, that’s why we’re interesting. If we all agreed, this would be boring.
So, to me, the idea of “Don’t Hold Back” is this: I think a lot of people hold back from being themselves or pursuing their dreams in life because of fear, of course. Fear of not having enough to keep your body alive is important. We need to take care of our bodies, nourish them, give them a safe home to live, etc. First get that stuff taken care of. Sadly, that’s where it ends for most of humanity. Which sucks because, for me that’s where it all begins. I hope someday we can bring abundance to the world using advanced technology so more people can find their own meanings and feel true freedom.
I guess that’s why I thought Burning Man could somehow replace religion for our species. It allowed me to further the discovery of my own meaning, though I don’t know if it works 100% on others. Under the conditions of sleep deprivation, slight dehydration and heat, when the desert is trying to kill you and you have a tribe of people around you also struggling to find themselves and stay alive, s$%t gets real. It cultivates a tribal mentality, but without the us/them crap, well, theoretically, though we are silly homo sapiens.
Every year there’s always a story like this: “so and so went to Burning Man – is Burning Man dead?” – as if so and so going to Burning Man is a BAD thing. Everyone who wants to go should go. I wish we could all go. If I could wave a magic wand and make Burning Man happen everywhere right now, I would. Unfortunately, not everyone comes out with a meaning, but at least we have each other. Meaninglessness together > meaninglessness alone, right? Looks like good math to me.
As it turns out, there are always bad people in this world, but I pity them. They are so hurting inside that they can’t experience living the way I can, the way I really hope you, my reader, can. Or they are sociopaths and will never experience love. I chose to not let those people get to me as much as I possibly can because, to be honest, most of the people who would get to me, well, they’re not happy, so why bother being angry? Life is too short to hold grudges, get over it, move on, grow up, you’re dying. (It’s sometimes easier said than done…)
So who are you and why are you on this planet for this short time? And, are you living your life fully, loving others fully and doing your best to make sure those you care about know exactly how special they are? And supporting one another as you journey together through the meaninglessness, trying to write meaning where you can, with art, love, dance, science, whatever works for your unique soul. After you got the whole staying alive stuff covered, of course. Hierarchy of good old Maslow. Smart dude.
We need to figure this out, because right now our society seems so lost – at least, the smarty-pants types who can’t believe in the prepackaged stuff even if they try. Though it’s fascinating to me that a guy managed to use the idea of freedom to trick that part of some people into believing and into an us/them ideology to give young men a prepackaged meaning, just like any other religion. Please, don’t ever just believe me, seriously, question every stupid thing I say, that is very very important to me!!!! Be skeptical of me first and foremost if you read this blog. I’m just another organic, biased information processing machine.
I believe this lack of meaning, that is required to just go on as a conscious human being in the face of the terror of death, is going to lead to the devolution of intelligence out of our species if we don’t solve it. Well, I think it’s related, I just know so many intelligent people are not interested in having children and I can’t imagine why anyone who thinks life is a beautiful blessing in a snapshot of the life of the universe and knows he/she is a bad ass wouldn’t want to pass their genes on and bioengineer another homo sapiens with their body. We’ll see what happens.
Like I said, I don’t really BELIEVE anything, I just make connections and wonder if any of them are real, and try not to take sides so my ego and my ideas don’t get too intertwined. But, it’s a scary thought to me, that we’d devolve because our brains got too darned big to keep procreating themselves because the nihilism/hedonism/materialism meaninglessness leads to suicidal DNA. Maybe we’ll invent AI smarter than us so it won’t matter, or use genetic engineering to make humans a million times smarter than any of us can imagine? I hope we can do that before we breed intelligence out of our species. Go procreate please, if you’re a bad ass and you have good genes, the future needs them. Raise your children lovingly and be an awesome parent, and find a tribe of support so you don’t feel isolated. Because anyone smart knows that, intelligence is pretty genetic so even if the SKY IS FALLING, we are going to need intelligent folks around to hold it up with science and technology. The universe is it’s own experiment, but if humans stop being scientists we will only be subjects. Long term thinking people, long term thinking.
Thanks for being a part of my own little hero project! Let’s at least be honest with ourselves about how little we know about why we are here and find our own answers. Prepackaged meaning is about as healthy to me as prepackaged food!