In late April 2010 my life changed forever. I attended my first Burn. Having toyed with the idea of going to AfrikaBurn for a few years, I never realised what an impact it would have on me.
Just 3 days in the Karoo desert and my entire outlook on life and people changed forever. I felt this warm fuzzy feeling in my gut and soul that didn’t disappear when I came back home, in fact it magnified. I had to see where it all came from and how it started. The experience did not have the same effect on some of the friends who attended with me. We had a rough time out there, no shade, inadequate food and uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, but I was still bitten and all I could think of was why didn’t I come sooner.
After returning from AfrikaBurn I started planning my first trip to Black Rock City to see what Burning Man was all about. I had this need to see how far this Burn thing goes. I couldn’t recruit any of my friends to join me but I was determined nonetheless. I made it happen through intense trials and tribulations, heavy financial expenditure and almost pulling the plug on the whole journey the day of departure in Los Angeles due to the flu and an overwhelming sense of what the fuck am I doing?
My first night at Burning Man is a tale for another time. What I can say is that I woke up the next morning and wanted to go home. My mind was over exposed, I felt scared and alone. Luckily a new friend talked me down. He is now one of my best friends. The next 4 days were the best of my life up until that point.
To say I came out of that experience changed even more would be an understatement. People honestly thought I had lost my mind. I recently reread my Facebook comments from those first few days out of the desert and even I cringe. I now have a 2-week period of ‘no comment’ on social media till my Burn experience has settled in.
I came back to SA not knowing how I would handle my next AfrikaBurn experience. People were already annoyed with how much I spoke about Burning Man. I was worried the experience would be underwhelming, somehow not as good. I decided to go ‘all in’ anyway with a group of friends and start a theme camp. The LEDHEDZ were born in 2011. That time out in Tankwa Town was the best 5 days of my life at that time. I noticed a pattern forming.
I started feeling like a true Burner, open to anything and armed with the knowledge that one can always know more, be better and continually improve themselves and their surroundings. I found my creative outlet and a sense of community. I felt a reaffirmed faith in humanity as a whole.
Trying to explain all this to someone who has not experienced a Burn is a tough. It’s about being present and letting go at the same time. It’s about living in that moment of human experience. For me the Burn is the greatest inside joke ever conceived. You just don’t get it till you experience it. Someone else once told me that it’s like trying to explain colour to a blind person. I am eternally grateful I see the colours, not only at Burning Man, but also right here at AfrikaBurn.
My 5-year plan? 10 burns in 5 years. 6 down. 4 to go.
Photo credits: ‘unknown’ & Jonx Pillemer