Burning Man Nevada by Kalee Hewlett

Burning Man is an annual gathering that takes place at Black Rock City, where a temporary community is built in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.

The event is described as an experiment in community and art, influenced by ten main principles, including ‘radical’ inclusion, self-reliance and self-expression, as well as community cooperation, civic responsibility, gifting, de-commodification, participation, immediacy and ‘leaving no trace’. Burning Man was first held in 1986 on Baker Beach in San Francisco as a small function organised by Larry Harvey and a group of friends, and has since been held annually, spanning from the last Sunday in August to the first Monday in September (the U.S. Labor Day).

At Burning Man, the community explores various forms of artistic self-expression, created in celebration for the pleasure of everyone that attends. One of the things I find to be so special about Burning Man is the selfless giving of one’s unique talents for the enjoyment of all. Some of these generous out-pourings of creativity can include experimental and interactive sculpture, building, performance, and art cars, among many other mystical mediums, often inspired by the yearly theme, chosen by organisers. No two years are the same at Burning Man, but what remains symbolic is the ritual burning of a large wooden art structure ‘the Man’ that traditionally occurs every year on the Saturday evening.

Burning Man is organised by the Burning Man Project, a non-profit organisation that, in 2014, succeeded a for-profit limited liability company (Black Rock City, LLC) that was formed in 1997 to represent the event’s organisers, and is now considered a subsidiary of the non-profit organisation. The numbers of people attending this mystical event has risen over the years; in 2010, 51,515 people attended which later rose to 70,000 by 2015.

Whenever someone asks me about this spectacle I struggle to find the perfect words. What does ‘out of this world’ look like to you? Perhaps that’s the best question I could ask here, and leave you to ponder on that for a moment. Really visualise what that may look like to you. I asked myself the same question before I made my way to Black Rock City for the very first time six years ago, and it’s quite frank to say that when I actually made it there, I was quite literally blown away in all senses of the word.

I knew from my first ‘burn’, when my feet touched down on the ground, what is more commonly known amongst ‘burners’ as the ‘playa’, that was it, I was committed. On that first day I soon realised the coming week would be engrained with so much greatness across multiple realms, and I instantly thought there was no way I was going to give up this yearly opportunity to dance with life in all its glory.

One really cannot quite comprehend how much you take away from Burning Man, until you have experienced it for yourself. Weeks, months and even years after the event, are filled with more sudden realisations of the lessons learned there. There is so much I could share with you about my experiences over the last five years of attending, but what I wish to share most of all, is my most recent trip because it sums up beautifully what can be manifested at Black Rock City.

You see, this year for the first time in my life, at the beginning of the year, I created my ‘vision board’ for the year ahead which consisted of a montage of images representing my desires across all areas of my life. One of the most profound things to happen to me this year is the images on my vision board started to take life form. Quite literally, things were showing up in 3D and in ways that you could touch and feel, that’s when it really came to me that the Law of Attraction really works. What you put out to the universe will make its way back to you, simply ‘ask and you shall receive’.

One of my greatest lessons to take away from Burning Man this year is that even when you feel like you hit standstill in your life and nothing is happening, have faith that the universe always has your back, and there are things happening in the background, even if you cannot see or touch them, that are supporting you along your journey.

Another lesson I learnt from this year that can be applied to everyday life is to attend Burning Man, and better still, approach life with no expectation. I see people making this mistake in relationships all of the time. Too much expectation is put on an experience, or in the case of relationships, on the other person to fulfil one’s own happiness. What I have come to learn, and what Burning Man has truly taught me, is to find that sweet spot in life called your ‘flow’. This is the space in which all things become effortless, life becomes easy, things show up for you in all various forms and suddenly you become awakened and alive to all the messages being delivered to you from the universe.

This isn’t any easy task for most, for the learning comes with life experience and a ton of teachings. I guess my point is that Burning Man is one of the most enriched learning schools you will ever attend. For one, technology is hugely at bay and so, with your bare feet on mother earth and with no interference, manifestation really has the space in which to really show up for you.

What is also so prevalent are the people in which you share this space with. At Burning Man you will find a beautiful mix of likeminded people who share similar visions and viewpoints on life, and when arriving from the city of London, this is one of the most refreshing and heartwarming realisations to greet you. People you meet are creators in the greatest form, they are vibrating at the highest frequency and so you find yourself in the most enlightening and thought-provoking conversations. What I came to realise this year too, is that everything and everyone I had been subconsciously calling in in my life, showed up for me in the literal form. I met people that were connected to the greatest thought leaders pinned on my vision board, which for me was one of those truly ‘wow’ moments.

I met some incredible creators, living worldwide on a conscious plane that I have so long been seeking. Life changes happen at Burning Man, and this year has been the pinnacle point for me in which I have now decided to embrace a new chapter in my life and move to Los Angeles to further pursue my dreams. And that’s just it, Burning Man not only awakens you to your dreams, it makes you realise what is possible and you leave with a new burning desire to just go out there and make things happen. It serves up a great reminder that anything is possible. As a creative, fashion stylist, TV host and motivational speaker, I came away from Burning Man more inspired than ever. It is my objective to continue to live my life in a way that integrates all of my core desires and skills. Integrating the two as a ‘way of life’ and having my ‘work’ be my passion and love is something that I always strive to live out.

One thing I always express to people asking or even thinking about attending Burning Man, are the challenges that you face throughout the experience. Arguably, Burning Man is not easy, and upon long reflection that is also what makes it so special and so self-rewarding, and that is precisely why I reference it as one of the very best learning schools. You are tested across many avenues, your patience, your connection to others, how you show up in situations of conflict and how you embrace challenges. You will learn so much about yourself that will further enrich your life.

You are confronted by the elements of mother nature which entails soaring temperatures during the day, sometimes Baltic temperatures at night, and when the wind sweeps across the desert with velocity you can suddenly find yourself amidst a ‘sand storm’. This comes with great pre-planning and an extensive pre-burn shopping list. You’ll quickly discover when exploring the desert on your bicycle that you should never leave your tent, yurt or RV without goggles and a dust mask at the ready. Top of my shopping list yearly too is an array of the most dazzling festival wear, compulsory of course.

One observation I made this year was how much the fashion at Burning Man has evolved. I was mesmerised by the elaborate costumes everywhere. As a fashion stylist, Burning Man serves up so much inspiration for me yearly and this time was quite literally next level. I noticed photoshoots happening across the playa, poignant moments being sunrise and sunset. No matter how hard you try, moments will never fully be captured in a picture, but with a great eye and camera lens you can get pretty close to it. This year I managed to experience almost every sunrise and sunset which was quite a feat, each one different in its own way, shared with old friends and new. One of my earliest sunrises this year was spent riding out on my own on my bicycle deep into the playa. I rode by three beautiful beings all sharing the moment with a bottle of champagne. I stopped and asked to join them and was greeted by the gift of a head massage whilst sipping champagne and overlooking the most beautiful intense sky, I mean what a way to greet the day ahead. Another passer-by stopped to share the moment and I’m presented with more gifts.

By the end of the week I’m laced with necklaces each telling their own unique story encompassing special moments that I shared with special beings along the way. A collection of trinkets I have gathered over the past five years symbolises long-lasting moments that will stay sketched in my memory for a lifetime. On reflection, each one reminds me of the collective of humanity and how we are all on our individual paths with a unique story to tell, yet reminds me that we are all here predominantly as one on this path called life, and we are here to revel and enjoy each other. Burning Man is the ultimate celebration of just that.

This article has to be limited with words, for I could share pages and pages of my experiences and I’m never short of words or stories to tell. Or better still, teachings, which in my eyes is most important of all.

And so, I need to find the words to summarise this story and in all its essence. Burning Man for me symbolises in many ways what life should be about. Life is about living in the moment, feeling and loving all that comes in your way and fully appreciating every moment for what it is. We are the creators of our own destiny and with a passion for self-development, I forever find ways in which to challenge myself and grow. In the words of Tony Robbins, if we are not growing we are dying and this is forever evident in my thoughts, I remind myself of this every day. Tony also says that proximity is power, which highlights the importance of being in the company of those that lift you up, help you to grow and expand and act as inspiration for you.

I am eternally grateful for all that Burning Man has taught me this year and those previous, and the intense joy it has bought to my life. I have evolved greatly as a being and my understanding of life and myself has propelled to whole new heights. I have connected with groups of people from across the world that will continue to nourish my life in the way that Burning Man has. We are here on this planet to live out our truth, to come from a place of love always for what we are and what we do and most off all we are here I believe to serve. So a lasting note… one thing that showed up for me one sunrise at Burning Man was a canvas TOMS bag that represented an almost picture perfect image of what is pinned to my board… another ‘wow’ moment.

I was so inspired by the founder of TOMS and his story. He went travelling years ago and found that in the developing world, children didn’t have shoes to put on their feet. In response to this finding, he developed a company called TOMS that sells canvas shoes and for every pair sold, a pair is delivered to the developed world to serve less fortunate children. The founder is now supporting other ‘one for one’ organisations and start-ups and his story has inspired me to build my own organisation with the same format and ultimate purpose to serve.

My mood board this year served as a reminder of this being one of my goals, Another sign from the universe that I am following my flow, I am on path and my heart is in alignment with my purpose, a confirmation that I am living what I have called in. Life really is MAGIC, which coincidentally or should I say, not so coincidentally, was one of the main art installations this year which I stumbled upon one sunrise dressed head to toe in a silver glitter catsuit, and of course the giant letters glistened in the sun in corresponding silver. Oh the synchronicity and serendipity that showed up is really quite mind blowing, and the manifestations that have shown since, really have and continue to, take my life to whole new heights.

Burning Man is quite literally one of the most ‘out of this world’ journeys that I have encountered in my current lifetime. For me, it is one of the most magical place on earth, and I have travelled this earth far and wide, yet still haven’t found a place that quite depicts the word ‘magic’ in the way that Burning Man does.

Kalee Hewlett