It’s Saturday night and I am sitting in front of my screen, actively avoiding the temptation to get “Social”. (like, like, wow, like). I’ve been chatting to a girl on WhatsApp, but fear those embers are going to need some serious fanning before her monosyllabic answers blaze into something you could call a conversation.
As little as a few months ago, I would have lamented an evening like this, thinking that my life was over. Here I am, alone on a Saturday night. I guess my treat for not dancing on tables tonight, is to actually sit still … and think (scary state) about these interesting times. The world is in upside-down mode. Presidents are orange clowns, we have no water and and the iceberg, (home to a family of polar bears) melts a little more, every time the fat-cat in the suburbs starts his Bentley.
Don’t believe all the awesomeness you see on Facebook. People want you to think they’re leading Rockstar lives. Perhaps they are, but remember Curt Cobain. Under every glossy exterior lies a coat of its own troubles… — No I am not a pessimist, but you gotta be honest…Knowing that you aren’t the only one who has to deal with a measure of crap, will put things into perspective and make it all seem a little better.
On the positive side of this emotional weather forecast, lies the fact that I am no longer having to deal with my winter cold. I got a little sick after Africa Burn. (No, going to bed at sunrise for a straight week had nothing to do with it. (;
I had never been to Africa Burn and had decided to see what all the fuss was about. I had just come out of a fairly tumultuous relationship and decided to go and watch some things burn in the desert, — perhaps lay some of my own issues to rest the viking way.
— A bit like Tom Waits in Franks’ Wild years… (Frank headed home and dowsed his old life with a gallon of gas, set it alight, parked across the street laughing, watching it burn all halloween orange and chimney red)
It was for this reason that I sought to go there alone. So, armed with a few makeshift outfits that I had composed in the isles of a little China shop, and a few frozen meals that would last for as long as my 3 ice-packs would, I set off for the Tankwa desert. At 3 am, I loaded up on Red-bulls, a very black Americano, some good tunes, and before I could “spell road trip”, I was greeting the sunrise over the desert with outstretched arms; a light morning rain waking me up through the sliding roof of the Jeep.
Upon my arrival on that other planet, I was promptly asked to lie down on the desert floor and perform a sand angel, which I think was kinda cool!
“Welcome!”, they said.
My sand angel marked the gradual unfurling of the largest parade of human quirkiness that I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
Going into the desert solo, allows you to observe and if you have never been to The Burn, I would hazard that not even a Woodstock documentary can prepare you for the calibre of visual feasting your eyes will be treated to. If you have an aversion to wrinkled naked dudes, maybe opt for the safety of your local pub instead.
On day 2, my Africa Burning was met with some headwind. I bumped into the ex, who insisted on parading her new dude in front of me, like a kid with an ice-cream. (melting) The burn is a difficult place to hang your head though, because there’s simply too much happening… I chose to hop on a mutant Volksie and follow the Spirit train’s meanderings across the plains. The haunting trance music and fire bellows went well with my steam-punk outfit and the German exchange student I met later.
On the third day, I noticed an air of melancholy settle over me. (no, it wasn’t that my synapses had been over stimulated by the endorphin dumps). The novelty of my solo excursions was beginning to wear off and I longed to shoot the breeze with some similarly tired and hung over buddies. Remembering my mother’s advice about having an early night and feeling better in the morning, I slept for an hour, woke up feeling totally refreshed, dressed myself in my own version of a steampunk Chippendale and headed out again… (had a train to catch)
All good things come to an end and a few days after landing back in civilisation, I pondered what the desert had taught me…
Africa Burn is a bit like life… All around us, are these beautiful crazies that we call humanity. We come into and leave each other’s spaces in a rhythm akin that of the Spirit train pulsing its way across the plains. Sometimes the spaces become tendrils of connection and sometimes they could have, but they don’t.
The Burn was a reminder to me that at the very end of the day, we are all responsible for ourselves and our own happiness. We need to don our own outfits and when we walk onto that plain, we should walk with our own sense of purpose, happy to be in our own company. Yes of course there should be a ready smile under the brolly, who knows… we may meet someone who wants to walk a little while with us. We may even find someone who wants to walk the whole plain with us. — But don’t hang your entire happiness on that. You can acknowledge the other plumages with a smile. You can even nod in sympathy when an awkward bird passes by dragging an even more awkward bird around the planes with them, (melting ice-cream and all)
Today, I received a card that I had written to myself whilst at The Burn.
I could not help but smile at my own wobbly hand-writing… it said: ”This is a beautiful place. Stay strong, always keep hope alive and everything is gonna be fine” — and it is.
I think if I went to Africa Burn tomorrow, I would enjoy it even more, because I burned my old Gods on that Saturday morning at 5h30. — Viking style.
— And I’d know to bring more ice and vodka.