It’s Wednesday and the temple is finally completed and open. As soon as the day begins to cool down, I head out for a little private ceremony I’ve been contemplating for weeks. I have two fine ladies to pay tribute to. One is the mother of a friend who died a few months ago, leaving these last words.
I had such a great time, y’all.
I’ve been wearing her bright orange shawl, trying to carry her spirit of joy with me here at Burning Man.
The other is my own mother, who died ten years ago. I some ways I feel like I never fully mourned her and this seems like the right time and place. I settle into a soft spot in the dust, armed with a sharpie, prepared to leave my tributes on one of the many two by fours that form this beautiful open air construction.
I leave Judy’s last words, and have moved onto crafting something for my mom, when I notice raucous music getting louder. What? This is supposed to be the one quiet place for reflection. How rude are these people?
I keep writing and let the tears flow, tears I never could summon before. It feels good but the music is getting louder and harder to ignore. I listen.
It’s jazz. New Orleans jazz to be precise, and I realize this is a funeral procession for someone else, being mourned in a way that is fitting to them. Of course it is appropriate here. My irritation dissipates, and I return to my own ceremony.
Then I notice just how big the procession is. It’s got to be hundreds of people, maybe more. They are getting closer to the temple, lead with a banner featuring a likeness I recognize. It’s of Larry Harvey, one of founders of Burning Man and friend to so many who are here.
I’m happy to let my private tears coexist with this noisy tribute. Then I realize the trajectory of this procession will take it into the temple via one of the many curved entrances, and it happens to be the one in which I’m sitting in the dust crying. I’m about to be in the way of the largest single act of mourning ever held at Burning Man.
I take a quick photo of what I’ve written so far, and crawl through a gap in the wood just in time. The music is deafening as the parade passes me and skydivers jump out of airplanes above.
Sorry about that, mom. Bad timing.
I hear her laughter in my head. She had a way of seeing the humor in the bizarre and it occurs to me she might have found this rather funny. I let myself laugh as well. What were the odds?
Her laughter mingles with mine and I think maybe it is a better tribute to her than all the tears I could shed.
I leave the friends of Larry Harvey to their celebration of his life, and head out to the deep playa to enjoy the dusk. I’ve been wanting to ride all the way out to the perimeter since I got here and this seems to be the perfect time.
I’m back to searching the day’s events to find my rules of the road. Today offers multiple options.
It’s good to go out to the edge.
Or if you find yourself in the path of a parade, either join in or get out of the way.
Both good advice, but I’m choosing if you get interrupted by a parade, laugh.
As to the song of the day, that one is easy. What else could it be?