My Own Private Playa

October 11, 2013

By Ari Lynn

I have never been to Burning Man. There, I said it. Perhaps some day if the timing and the reason is just right I’ll go, but it’s not anything I’m planning on. Don’t get it twisted, though, it looks like an exceedingly cool event with a ton of awesome art and music and performances and really everything a young bohemian type could ask for. (Except for peace and quiet.) You see, Burning Man–and the whole big festival culture–really gained notoriety and developed an identity while I was busily dreaming and working away my twenties on the Big Island of Hawai’i, where I received my BS in Agriculture. I had big plans and aspirations to start my own sustainable farm, which I envisioned as also serving as a model for others wanting to live a “different” type of life than the one that the towns and cities had offered up. Alas, that was many years ago, and the real estate boom of the early 2000s put a damper on my own back-to-the-land dreams.


Almost every year, however, since moving back home to the Pacific Northwest, I make a trip out to the desert in northern Nevada to clear my head and reconnect with nature. The spot I go to is somewhere I’ve been going to off and on for nearly twenty years, now. It’s a sweet valley only a couple mountain ranges away from the Black Rock Desert, nestled against the Pueblo and Pine Forest Mountains and populated with sagebrush, burros, bunnies, and scorpions. Out there in the quiet I can feel the rocks breathe and the mountains talk. The wind has a language of its own as it sweeps over the mountains and into the valleys, rustling the sagebrush and junipers as it glides effortlessly along the landscape.  As the sun gets low in the sky, I enjoy the late afternoon ritual of readying for the cool of the night by putting on warm clothes and sparking a campfire.  As the sun dips below the horizon the surrounding mountains burst into a brilliant display of plum and violet. And in the crisp dark of the night the blanket of ever-twinkling stars keeps my soul warm and cozy.

The modern underground culture is richly and intricately permeated with a connection to nature and natural cycles. In many ways, the current underground culture is a bit of a renaissance of a Romantic era. From its very inception, the original American counter-culture movement of the 1960s had a strong back-to-the-land element. To this very day, highly motivated people in the underground scene with strong convictions and a deep-running desire to find a life more in harmony with natural cycles are fleeing the cities seeking meaningful pursuits in nearby communal-living farms and far-flung tropical destinations. There’s something about the underground culture that pushes back at the status quo of the urban dream that many of us have inherited and seeks something different, something agrarian, and something downright utopian. Many of us find ourselves being more grounded when we have a stronger connection to nature and the natural cycles, and seek out these opportunities somewhat ravenously. It’s no coincidence that The Burro Lifestyle Magazine releases its quarterly print magazine of the solstices and equinoxes; this is a blatant recognition of those natural cycles and the link that we all have to them.

Valley Pano

I find comfort in nature: the twinkling of the stars, the flickering of the firelight, the sound of the wind in the trees. Outside of the hustle and bustle and concrete confines of the city, and exposed to the great vastness of the universe, I find myself enjoying the heightened sensation of feeling rather small. Simultaneously, and somewhat paradoxically, I also find myself in those moments of acute finitude feeling more connected with the infinite. When I pause and give myself the necessary time to watch the sun set and to wait for the moon to raise I am aware of something much bigger than me, something that has lived countless more lives than I have, and something that I am also a tiny part of. It is in this desolation that I find comfort. It is in the screaming emptiness of the void, in the vast open spaces, where I find myself most free and aware of my tiny role in this vast experience called life. I am yet but a mote in a single ray of sunshine being cast by only a single star of which there are countless and numberless more within this ever-expanding universe. And somewhere someone else is having a similar spiritual epiphany, and is being drawn towards a lifestyle that provides more opportunities to connect and commune with the natural cycles that we can’t deny.

The next time you have a chance to watch the sunset or sunrise, do it. The next time you see a leaf falling from a tree, effortless through space and time, watch it carefully as it tumbles to rest at your feet on the ground below you. Let, for that brief moment, time stand still. Let yourself be bathed in moonbeams and tucked in by starlight. The next time you have the chance to gaze into the eyes of someone you love, take the time do it. This moment is all we have. This is your own private playa.

Water pony

We are a motherhood of creatures painted on Gaia’s great easel.

Hues of cadmium and cobalt, vermilion and verdant,

Swirling water and oil in harmonious bliss and toil.

We are a sennit of souls dancing prophetic in hope and doom.

We are twisted and braided, knitted and crocheted on destiny’s great loom.

And each colorful thread, still painted and wet

Bleeds on the others through life and through death.

Now the fabric is spun, and the song always sung

By earthly and heavenly cherubim.

Eternal destiny eternally one, where nothing is never left undone.

We are a motherhood of creatures.

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