once is enough.

i first went to burning man in 2009. it was mind-blowing, an absolutely fantastic time. it was tough due to the heat and sun of the desert, and jenn and i had a few big fights there, but overall it was great.

there’s a ton of hype but BM actually is really cool. i think everyone with a remotely open mind should go, but only once.

we went again in 2011. it wasn’t as mind-blowing this time, and i still struggled with the elements, and jenn and i had some more big fights. i enjoyed going out at night with my pal dane. it was his first time there and seeing and doing stuff with him made me kind of see everything through a first-timer’s eyes again. that was really cool.

jenn and i went again this year and this time, i was prepared for the elements and handled them pretty well. i was also more into dressing up in costumes, more into taking part in some respects. jenn and i had had lots of time to reflect on why we had relationship issues at the previous BM’s and were well prepared for this year, armed only with better communication skills: we didn’t fight once! that was great. and we camped with some friends that i don’t see often enough so it was really nice to get to spend so much time with them.

but i didn’t like BM as much this time.

jenn felt the same way, and so did a few of our pals. none of us could really put a finger on why though. it seemed like all the ingredients were there for another mind-blowing time, and i certainly had a good time. but it just wasn’t as good as the first time.

then i was talking with a friend at work and she mentioned that when she does something amazing — like going to burning man for the first time — she never repeats that experience. she does this because she thinks the subsequent times will lack the magic, the wonder of the first, and ultimately pale in comparison. i totally agree with her. i also believe that even if you say to yourself, “this year i’m going to do burning man totally differently than before, i’m going to go with an open mind,” or some other different approach, you are still naturally going to compare that time with previous ones. you’re still going to the same place to do similar things so it’s virtually impossible not to compare them. i know that’s the case for me, at least. the same thing happened with a death metal festival i went to for the second time last year, the maryland deathfest: the first year was amazing, the second year was ehhhhhhhhh…ok.


you couldn’t beat this lineup with a stick. did i mention i saw bolt thrower not once but TWICE that year, and jo bench smiled at me when i made a heart shape with my hands at her? unreal.

so i don’t think i’ll be going to burning man anymore. i’ve gotten to the point where i can do it relatively easily and comfortably but the magic of that first time just isn’t there anymore. now when i see pretentious wannabe hippies ‘meditating’ (aka burning out in a drug-fueled stupor) to the sunrise, all i want to do is kick them, whereas that first year i may have found them amusing in some way. i’m also going to try to apply this ‘only once’ approach to other super special things, like death metal festivals and whatnot.

boy, it sure sounds depressing when one of your lfe goals is just to mitigate your disappointment. this might be a new low for me. just kidding, i think it’s a great goal. it just sounds funny.

but if a whole troupe of my closest pals decided to go to BM, i would probably go. that would be awesome.


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