A Year in the After Burn

A little while ago, Facebook began reminding me of my statuses from years past. Today, it reminded me that I came home from my first trip to Black Rock City exactly a year ago. The actual status was:
"speechless. so tired. so happy! and grateful! i'm a rocketship, zoom...!"

My experience of Burning Man was a refreshing reset button, helping me to move on from a relationship far past its usefulness and gain a stronger sense of myself as a powerful, whole, goddess of a woman. It is still my favorite vacation ever. It was what happened when I arrived home from the desert that made all the difference, though.

The day I left for BRC, as I sat in the lobby of my building wearing a hula hoop and waiting for the lovely Sarah to collect me, I met the cute, young couple that was moving into the apartment next to mine. We exchanged casual conversation before I left and I promptly forgot all about them until the night I arrived home late to heavy bass music shaking the building. And then there were the disturbingly violent emotional and physical abuse heard through the walls, the emergency calls to police and the fear of retaliation from the guy who seemed so nice in the lobby a couple of weeks prior. Suddenly, my little safe haven wasn't feeling so safe.

Two weeks after the burn, I got word that the rent on my massage space was going up. It was not entirely unexpected but the timing was earlier than anticipated and I was left with a choice: work that much harder to sustain my business, or let it go. Having just stolen Reg's Osho cards while packing up our tent, I consulted the deck and I pulled Letting Go...bahaha!:
To choose this card is a recognition that something is finished, something is completing. Whatever it is--a job, a relationship, a home you have loved, anything that might have helped you to define who you are--it is time to let go of it, allowing any sadness but not trying to hold on. Something greater is awaiting you, new dimensions are there to be discovered. You are past the point of no return now, and gravity is doing its work. Go with it--it represents liberation.

Wow...yikes! It's not common to receive such a direct answer to a question and Reg had made it clear that while you are welcome to ignore this card, its arrival signals a very definite end. And so I wrote the most hippie resignation letter ever, referencing the above quote and talking at length about my feelings.

As I wrapped up my time in my massage space, my home environment continued to get more uncomfortable. The kids upstairs got a drum kit which they played randomly throughout the day and it became clear that I wouldn't be able to live there anymore. My dearheart lovebug Siri Shakti shacked up with me for a while and ended up being the biggest help in my transition out of my apartment and my city life. During this time of abundant change, I also met a guy who (figuratively) set me on fire. I am still recovering.

The day of the move came and I awoke with Florence + The Machine ringing in my ears. The dog days of life in a beautiful, chaotic, putrid, vibrant ghetto were over, to be replaced by a wandering, winding, sometimes dark and painful, sometimes ecstatic, path into the depths of my own heart. It's been the greatest gift of my life thus far to be torn apart and put back together in this way. It is a very good God who will deny me what I think I want in order to give me what I really need.

On Sunday night, I pulled the Letting Go card as my insight for the week. This has been the reoccurring theme of my journey over the past year. Let Go: of control, of expectations, of conditioning, of Ego, of assumptions, of projections, of outdated relationships, of outdated anything. Let go let go go on...in big and small ways, every day, let go. This surrender is the path to freedom. The build up to surrendering is a bitter, brutal battle but the act of surrender is a non-doing. It is a gentle sigh.

And then? There is nothing. There is no struggle, no grasping, no fear. There is only the peace of being in the flow of life, open and ready to serve the will of the "breath inside the breath," as Kabir put it. I have control over nothing, nor the right to control anything, but my own experience of life. That is all. And so I breathe and chant and stretch and listen very carefully, awaiting the tiniest whisper in my ear, awaiting the revelation of the next path in this beautiful, mysterious life.

As my tribe flows back into the Bay, and I am reminded of my own joyous homecoming last year, my heart stings a little to have been physically absent from the burn. But when I consider it, I see that this entire year has been a Rite of Passage- from the moment Letty's tires turned back onto the highway off of the playa to the moment I stayed home and embraced my adult challenges with grace and discipline. It's a passage I didn't even know existed, but here I am, growing up and into myself in real, meaningful ways. I am grateful for these milestone reminders and the time and space to consider the passage of time and how these passages create us.


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