It’s true, I’m an Adventure Expert. Not like all those others who have ventured into Adventure Travel and extreme sports. More along the lines of having shifted my outlook on life through the lens of “Adventure” expert. With this shift in attitude, it has brought on some adventurous travel! Including going to Burning Man a few times.
Profiled on a site that interviews Adventurers
So how did I come to this conclusion that I’m an expert? Check out this story on mightygoods.com (I’m the second profile, or you can find me alphabetically listed at the top). From their site: MightyGoods aims to share stories and knowledge from the most interesting and experienced people from all over the world. We talk with adventurers, nomads, athletes and other people who live life to the beat of their own drum.
When they reached out to me, they said they were looking for experts on packing for Burning Man. Going into my 5th year to Burning Man; having been selected as a regional leader for the NYC area to participate in Burning Man’s Global Leader Conference (two years in a row), co-producing events to acculturate and connect people who have never been to Burning Man, as well as belonging to the core management team of one of the larger theme camps (Kostume Kult, with 200 campers and year-round events in NYC), I definitely am a good source for the article. Plus it didn’t hurt that I had already written a few articles on the event. (Here’s the one they liked best, and may feature later Give Me the Dirt - RV camping at Burning Man)
What I pack
One of the questions asked was “What top 3 things do you always bring to Burning Man besides the common stuff everybody bring?” The first part of my answer truly reflects who I am and what I am about. I bring my Adventure Attitude.
Not everybody who goes to this experience does. Some are miserable the whole time. Some are blissed out, numbed by drugs and/or alcohol. Some have metamorphosis or epiphanies while there, and learn to be open to new ideas.
I look back at my first year and what it was like preparing for such a big “unknown” event. It was basically nine months of preparation. This was so far out of my comfort zone – there were times I was scared of what “could” happen, had bad dreams, met wildly different people from my corporate and suburban life, overwhelmed with packing “all the things” and getting it all out there. I was also afraid of my then-still-pretty-new relationship would fall apart under the intensity of not just camping in the desert, but all that goes on at Burning Man. Let’s face it. I was 50 years old and a suburban working mom. Then again, I had just jumped out of an airplane to celebrate that banner year…so I’d already looked death in the face and came out smiling.
My Adventure Attitude helped me not only get through it, but learn and grow from it too. It was thousands of adventures in one week. Life lessons, challenges, gratitudes, connections, creativity, odd synchronicities (“the playa provides”) and new, deep friendships. Every year going has been a different adventure, more lessons to be learned.
Burning Man is crazy, of course you have fun & adventures there...
This past year was hard on me, both physically and emotionally. While I learned 3 months after the event that I have Adrenal Fatigue (similar to chronic stress syndrome), being in the middle of the worst of it I had no idea. It wasn’t the incredible heat that got to me (100+ daily) as I’m used to that with my regular Bikram practice. It was the waking up with nightmares every morning. It was my body’s systems being off with the switch in nutritional intake (fresh, green salads can be challenging to get out in the desert). It was the stress of drama with people I cared about and had to detach from to remain sane. It was also coming off of the “high” of having completed a truly wonderful beta test of a course I created for my burgeoning business. When I think of my fourth year at Burning Man, what it boils down to me was the overarching self-doubt about my Adventure Attitude.
As in, I remember a particularly bad day when I yelled at myself, critically asking “who the f*ck am I to teach others about having an adventure attitude when I don’t have one?” This was the trial I had to walk through. Facing some of my deepest fears. Even while I was feeling at the bottom of myself, I still was open-minded.
I went and tried different things – Burning Man camps offers so many different seminars. The saying goes “the playa provides.” A friend offered her art car, so we could tour around without getting exhausted. A cacao ceremony in the middle of a dust storm. A neuro scientist led a discussion & practice on tantric communication (involving eye gazing and energy levels). A sound bath meditation. My adventure attitude allowed me to be open to people taking care of me. Being brought to a misting tent to cool off. Being offered shelf space in the camp fridge for my green drinks. The honest conversations with campmates. Relaxing after a work day on the art that I created.
Yes, while in the middle of it all, I let that inner critic rule. At least for short periods. Upon reflection after, it’s my adventure attitude that kept me from being a complete puddle. It’s possible it was the Adrenal Fatigue that made me so unhappy – yet it was my way of looking at life that made it possible to fully experience those uncomfortable feelings without numbing myself and end up seeing everything negatively. This inner critic doesn’t only show up at Burning Man. It likes to show up during normal days too. I bet you know what I mean! It’s when we challenge that comfortable state of discomfort, and change to make life lighter, that’s when the real skills show up and make us Expert.
So here’s a tip from an Adventure Expert.
No matter where you go, or where you don’t go, always pack your Adventure Attitude.
Tell me in the comments below areas you feel you are an Expert. Or challenges you’ve met that have helped make your outlook on life different. Or even if you’re interested in learning more about how to develop your own Adventure