In my early teens I heard inklings of Burning Man, my mother was the first to awaken me to the events existence. She spoke of magic, art and culture; of freedom and beauty. She spoke if it as if it were the farthest away place, and she spoke of it with longing.
This is how I find many people who have not visited Burning Man describe the playa, like is it in the farthest regions of the world, accessible only by boat, through treacherous waters.
Which is true I suppose, but it’s not the landscape that is treacherous it’s the inward journey it’s self; the bravery of dancing in to the unknown. A faceless waltz partner and a promenade unlearned.
These thoughts of this bewitching place left my minds surface rather quickly; as I was 14 and had many dynamic dramatic seemingly important things to focus my attention on. What where they? Who knows, they meant nothing indefinitely. That being said this magic idea of a place was left tattooed in the depths of my psyche.
Late 2008 rolled around; no longer 14 although still teetering between the very unimportant frivolities that kept me safe and stagnant and lives philosophical terrifying integral instances. I had moved to Salt Spring with my Daughter’s father; left my life and my dreams behind me in lieu of being a proper family; providing something for my baby that was devoid in my childhood; “proper” structure. I forced myself to be what I was not, I forced away any idea of spirituality, art, and sex; whilst all the while I hid myself away on an island flourish with those things. Teasing myself; testing myself as I always did.
Hell I even became interested in hockey.
I broke; and I broke in to a million pieces of Mya.
I left Chloe’s Dad; with so much more ease than I could not feel guilty for; I hid away my culpability, my stigma and fell deeply in to my body, in to acrobatics, in to sex, in to yoga; in to my very handsome yoga teacher. This teacher and dear friend of mine; -he of whom these broken parts of myself became so very fond- awakened my memory unconsciously; with his tales of how the previous year a man he looked up to had brought him to Burning Man.
Burning Man; that place again. Why did something I had no idea about cause such a stir in my soul whenever I heard it’s name. What was this pull I felt?
My sweet friend and I continued to muse each other; until he left to return eastward to duties elsewhere; as wandering muses tend to do. As I too had been known to do. Past the bittersweet grief that came with his departure and this space now destitute; one prominent thing remained. A longing for a dusted geographical and mental monument I still only dreamt about.
Two year’s past and I had opened up my mind and started to accept that maybe my views of relationships where unconventional, and maybe that was okay. I ventured in to a consensual tumultuous relationship with two men; two people who could not be more different, two people who despite their blatant hatred for each other tried to quell that for what they believed to be love for me. Still I was picking up the many pieces of Mya that shattered years ago, still I searched for family and a home despite who I hurt; still I stubbornly believed in the power of love against all odds. These men and I; we crumbled and poisoned each other; one very troubled individual in particular refused to see so much that was right in front of him; all I wanted was to save them yet I had not in any fashion completed my own regeneration. I had unpurposely used my saviour complex as a distraction from healing my own festering wounds. In turn envenoming everything I tried to salvage.
Myself and my dear love at the time; my sweet Rabbit hearted man: we made a pseudo home in an Arts Collective we had taken the reigns of. We desperately tried to make sense of our dreams and hopes; whilst still functioning in a world to which neither of us were given the guidance all children should have. In this house a roommate of ours put a map up on the wall of the bathroom. A clock shaped map of a place, the streets named after times and alphabetical abbreviations.
They had pasted a map of Burning Man to the Bathroom wall; as I sat on the ground in my despair, hiding from the world and those I called family; from myself. I realized that I could not continue on a life without hope; without something to grasp on to within the chaos I welcomed in through front door.
Shortly after this without asking anyone I brought 3 tickets to burning man, stated blunting and calmly.
“I’ve bought us tickets to Black Rock City; we are going to Burning Man”
I was blind, broken, alone and lost. I had no idea who I was or what I was doing; I had mass amounts of power and capability inside of me yet no idea how to wield it.
On route to Nevada I had been battling Pneumonia and Whooping Cough for three months. My coughs had turned to piteous winces, and my will to continue living was swiftly abandoning me. My life in my eyes consisted of my lovers and I’s fighting, pain, confusion, guilt and all the while I tried to make it seems like all was well. Continuing to manage motherhood, my and my partners careers and save the most face as I possibly could.
Two monumental things happened upon entering black rock desert, and of course keeping with my lives theme of duality they ranged from sanguine to absolutely devastating. Yet both incredibly intrinsic to who I was becoming; or rather who I was holding back.
Whilst setting up our tent I realized I had gone hours without a coughing fit; to which was unheard of. For the past 3 months I hadn’t gone barely half an hour without a violent coughing rage stirring within my poor worn out lungs…. and yet now? It was gone, this sickness never returned; it vanished. Behind it left the sown seeds of my desire to continue on living again, not just existing as mass; but truly being me.
The second occurrence happened whilst night had fallen and I was taking a nap. I woke to screaming, my lovers fought but rarely ever physically. This time was different; my head flew out the window as my eyes adjusted to the darkness; the first thing I saw was one angry man round house kicking the other in the face
“I hate you! I wish I would have never come here!!” Yelled the forlorn and now red faced kicked one.
“What the fuck?!”
I screamed out the car as he ran off in to the night.
My superman syndrome kicked in quickly as I tried to run after him in to the night, apologizing to my campmates on my departure.
I had gotten so used to apologizing.
I searched, I searched and searched; up streets, down streets; although no street signs were up yet and the night got darker and suddenly I looked around and realized I was lost. I was in the middle of a dessert with no fucking idea where my Love or my Camp was. I spent the next 4 hours looking for either of them; sans shoes, sans a flashlight; upon my disembarkation to the Esplanade I collapsed. I sat against a lamppost in front of the Roller Disco and gave up.
This is where everything changed, not just in the moment but in my life.
The Sun started to rise; in that dramatic boisterous way that it can only rise on the desert floor. It’s light reached out slowly towards me, extinguishing the darkness that had clouded my judgement; externally and internally. Then he burned red, with a paternal indignation. A red that I had never seen before and perhaps never will again; my father in the sky was tired of my wasted potential and self inflicted astigmatism; in no longer allowing this he illuminated a sight I will never forget in all my days.
A silhouette of three pillars; reaching up towards the sky that exhibited them. Like fire and celestial light behind it, suddenly there was nothing else in my world and all of the pain and strife that had been burdening me dropped away; it just didn’t matter anymore; because now I saw her.
The Temple Of Transition.
In her I saw a love I never understood before; a love I gave to others but never turned inward, in her I started to comprehend unconditional self love; one that would turn me inside out and propel it outwards in a way I could have never fathomed before.
Now daylight I quickly and with spiritual affluence found my camp and slept soundly. Even in slumber my eyes had never been so open.
All this of which I had been holding on to; had been hurting me, it now had started to burn away.
I felt lighter.
The next day I visited The Temple; I did not understand what she stood for, or what I was about to see. I alone walked around the labyrinth of bodies and read the messages they had left behind.
Messages of love, proposals, obituaries, goodbyes, apologies, sorrow, true humanness embodied in ceremony and art; our beauty, our anguish, our perfect incompleteness it was embraced and accepted in a way I had never understood to be possible before. I was home, and I for the first time since I didn’t know when felt safe.
I had not cried in years, I didn’t cry when friends and family passed on, I didn’t cry when my daughter was born or when I broke our family apart, I didn’t cry when those of whom I trusted most betrayed me or when I lost what I believed to be everything. Never.
Suddenly a wave of pure grief and ecstatic freedom fell over me; drowning in my own existence I dropped to my knees and wept. I wept for myself, for my life; for every person who felt as lost as I did. Tears graced my dusted face and I did not wipe them; I needed them as a reminder that there is strength in vulnerability.
When I cried; I stepped more in to myself, and finally this aching was aloud to leave it’s prison; my soul exhaled as it’s burden was both lightened and it’s expanse increased ten fold.
Music Festivals, Rock shows, Symphonies, Schools, Tattoo conventions, Art Galleries, Backallys and Ballrooms.
For all of my life I had been searching for a home, a kinship and for myself. In that dream my Mom had planted so many years ago, within the temple I found the route, and the guidance I was looking for. Not an easy road but one paved long before me; one I could finally trust beyond the off beaten path I had stubbornly made for myself.
She will always hold a piece of my heart; only for her.
2011 was the year I found out who Mya Hardman truly is, and more importantly who she could be. 2012 on the other hand is where I truly realized who AppleCat is….
….To be continued.