Slum Dog Millionaire or a Burning Man documentary? Our mood was right for Burning Man and it was a great way to spend a few hours watching this Netflix video, reminiscing and enjoying the good vibes. We’ve traveled to this annual festival in the desert three times over the past seven years. It’s almost indescribable, somewhat like a Cirque du Soleil with over 40,000 people camped in a 5 square mile area in the desert north of Reno.

Our first year we were part of a group that had one of the many themed art camps, so we spent spring and summer in preparation. Part of the fun is ideating and creating the experiential projects. I can see people’s eyes rollback in their heads when I mention costumes. But that’s also what makes it unique. During the day when the sun was hot and the playa was sometimes a big dust storm, I often wore doctor’s scrubs and goggles. burning-man-2005-152Someone else wore a tutu and carried an umbrella, and others wore assorted wild and imaginative outfits or whatever they felt comfortable in. At night the desert glowed with L-wire on clothes, bikes and the flotilla of people navigating the playa—a surreal kaleidoscope of shapes, colors and sounds. It’s a pyromaniac’s dream with lots of propane flames used in kinetic art installations. We met people from all over the world, and experienced the wonderfulness and weirdness that is Burning Man from dawn to dusk.

I reveled in the nights and felt renewed by the early mornings. Most people slept late, which made it an optimal time to bike alone to the huge open-air, harem-like tent at center camp, grab a latte and relax on an overstuffed old sofa to watch other early risers of all ages and sizes perform their daily yoga workouts. Then I’d hop on my bike and pedal out to the art installations in the vast playa surrounding the “Man.” The sun rising over the encircling mountains, the newness of the day and the creativity that surrounded me were invigorating and fed my soul in a way nothing has except pure love and spring sunshine.

After the first day on the playa, all thoughts of work and problems melted away. I felt new and open. Like I did when Iimg_0132 was a teenager and the future was a big, beckoning adventure. While I was at Burning Man, I found the “me” that I thought was long gone. It’s gratifying to know that I still exist.