When There Are No Rules, Who Are You?

"Out of Nothing, Comes Everything."
-Larry Harvey
By Cameron Harrington

When there are no rules, who are you?

In late August 2007, I landed at the minuscule Nevada airport. I grab my bag and am immediately pulled toward a group of 5 people. I know some of these people, some I don’t, but by the end of the week, I will love them.

We rush to the runway toward a tiny plane made for five. I duck in to avoid my crown of pink ribbon braids. The engine begins, and so do the butterflies! I had heard of this magical land for the last two years, and I was about to experience an emersion unlike anything before! As we move through the air, the sky fades into deep mystical blue-black, and twinkling stars emerge. Soon my friends burst with excitement and pressed up to the salad plate-sized windows. I look down to take in the glowing ball of neon undulation. Finally, the plane starts to descend, and I can begin to make out the half-moon shape of a city in the desert!

The door opens to reveal a painted sign that says, “Welcome to Black Rock City.”

The airport attendants were unhappy with our late arrival; ignoring them, we handed over our tickets and hustled toward the brilliant world of wonder. Bright-colored costumes, muted by fine white dust, rushed past. The electronic beats constantly enticed you to join, and as you passed, one rhythm merged with the next. The Playa is littered with colossal art cars that look like ships, felines, and jellyfish cruising by slowly. Some people ride Bikes that glow and blink as they weave through the endless river of self-expressed, ambling humans. This eclectic river flows on; breathing, conversing, laughing, dancing, preaching, with top hats, being topless, wearing faux-fur, goggles, and burly boots, all of the people behaving so alive and looking right at you and into your soul.

This humbling and moving experience is called

Burning Man!

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One of the most cherished and extraordinary parts of Burning Man is the people, intensely alive, fully expressed, and incredibly engaged in the present moment. This environment, the organization itself, and its founding principles foster a place that supports the un-adulterated version of each participant, aka “Burner.”

The principles that undergird Burning Man are epic and hold people accountable in tangible and transformative ways. First, they revolve around mutual respect and expression while, at the same time, typical societal expectations and old hierarchies are thrown out. Second, there is a shared knowing that magic happens anywhere at any time, and you don’t want to miss it – so stay present and engaged. Finally, this temporary and curated culture allows us to remember that the full expression of who we are is far more remarkable than the games we have been playing as people.

Here is a link to the principles if you are curious: The 10 Principles of Burning Man.

There is a way that people behave with each other at Burning Man. The environment, combined with the philosophy of full self-expression, creates a safe place to share and seek the most precious and pure parts of each other. People smile with their eyes and gaze not at you but into you.

I describe this shared experience as being wholly seen, received, and invited to be all of oneself. From a spiritual community perspective, we uplift, are uplifted, and through it all, are left feeling like an expression of the infinite!

In this world, I more readily express wit, playfulness, grace, strength, willingness, curiosity, and creativity. So often, our external expression reflects our inner world.

These experiential principles create a city of art, music, and beauty where people practice living in harmony. So, from my perspective, let this world start with me, with you, and from this moment forward!

What could be possible if we bring some Burning Man magic into our daily lives, our rituals for starting and ending our days?

Who is with me?

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Self Expression Practice:

Give yourself a bit longer to get started tomorrow morning.

Then, when you are about to get dressed for the day, STOP.

Don’t just grab the next thing or what you usually wear or should wear.

Instead, feel into who you are TODAY.

How will what you wear express YOU via color and texture?

Create your attire from the space of how you want to feel and express yourself.

Have fun and be creative; add another layer of color.

Don’t overthink. Go with the flow

Then bring in a scent that moves your spirit. 

Are you earthy or floral, bright or more subdued today?

Finally, strike a pose. Stand in the way that expresses your remarkable self! 

Be big and bold, or reflective and calm; permit yourself. 

Your expression is your soul work.

Bringing ALL OF YOU forward permits others to be more themselves too!