But so did love, healing, joy, and acceptance. Burning Man tested my limits on many levels, and I left a stronger person because of it. I left more open, accepting, curious, and loving. The difficult task is holding onto all the goodness created and shared at Burning Man. How can you cultivate that same love in the default world? I’ve learned it comes from within. Love and accept yourself, and that love and acceptance will naturally extend to others. Burning Man is so much more than a music, art, or yoga festival. It truly is another world where outward exploration leads to inward discoveries. Oh, and one last thing—burners definitely give the best hugs.
As I sit at home and listen to the gentle release of rain from the grey clouds today, my heart fills with gratitude to be back with those I love—my family and my animals. I’m still transitioning from my travels to North Dakota, Burning Man, and Bolivia back to this “real world,” thinking about what that means and working on incorporating all I’ve learned into my everyday life.
Every time we step out of our homes into the world, we have the opportunity to learn, to grow, to love more. The recent traveling I’ve done and experiences I’ve had have allowed me to open my heart in ways I didn’t know were possible.
The fun/challenging part now is to hold onto that openness and to spread that light to others. It’s so easy to lose track of what’s important, to get caught up in petty drama, to worry about things that don’t actually matter, and to close back up.
But I refuse to close back up. I’ll live and love from this moment on with my heart open and vulnerable. You see, whether we live raw, open and honest, or whether we build walls and fortresses around our hearts, pain, hurt, disappointment, and betrayal will still happen and we will still feel them. Walls don’t stop the pain from getting through. They may stop your brain from consciously acknowledging and processing the pain, but it is still there. So I’d rather feel it, understand it, love it, learn from it, and let it go. And then love some more.
I ask all of you to do the same. Smile at every stranger you see today and the next day and the day after that. Yes, every single one. Maybe they’ll think you’re weird. But maybe you’ll brighten their day and help them open their heart a little more. Give more hugs, long ones, because those are the best kind. Feel your heart pressed against the heart of the person you’re hugging and feel the love. Give the love. Give and give and give. The more you give, the more you’ll receive. But, of course, that’s not why we give. We give for the simple pleasure of giving and without any expectation of receiving anything in return, and that is one of the greatest lessons I learned at Burning Man. So give a smile. Give a hug. Give all the love you have.
There’s something special about firsts.
I remember the first time I saw snow.
I remember my first horse show.
I remember the first book I read.
I remember the first time I rode a bike without training wheels.
I remember my first best friend.
I remember the first time my pony soulmate (may he rest in peace) touched my palm with his muzzle.
I remember my first crush.
I remember my first period.
I remember the first time I went to New York City.
I remember my first kiss.
I certainly remember the first time I drove a stick shift.
I remember the first time I made love.
I remember my first heartbreak.
I remember the first time I tried scotch.
I remember my first day of college.
I remember the first time I jumped off a cliff into water 30 feet below.
I remember the first time I realized that sometimes love isn’t enough.
I remember the first time I truly felt that we are all one.