"You people have ruined me. Thank you."

Wow, awesome! @burningman tweeted this post and now burners are coming online. And what’s the first thing they do? Say hi using the chat box that none of my regular visitors have ever used. Keeping the burn alive..

I didn’t write this, it was sent out to the Burning Man NYC listserv. This is my post on Burning Man.. Thank you to John for passing along this note by Ralph. He wanted no more attribution than that. I read this and teared up on the subway platform. How awful it is that we live in a world where eye contact and a genuine word is a revolution. Sometimes I’m despondent about the world, other times I can’t but see how beautiful it is.

Photo credit: Michael Holden

Last night, I went insane for about 10 seconds – untethered from reality, looking right at it but not seeing it.

After a 28-hour marathon drive and a couple of hours of decompression at home, I had been asleep for maybe an hour when something – I don’t know what woke me. I sat up and looked around desperately trying to get my bearings – where the f#[email protected] was I? A person lying next to me in bed asked me if I was alright. Alarmed, I looked her in the eyes and wondered who the f#[email protected] she was. I jumped out of bed and looked around – there was playa sand on the ground, and a driving techno beat coming in through the windows. But there was also furniture, a closet, french doors, a ceiling fan. “This is one pimped out dome,” I thought. Really, I thought that. After a few seconds the hemispheres finally synced and I put the pieces together. I was home. The woman in my bed was my wife. The sand was actually carpeting, and the beat didn’t exist. The playa was a thousand miles away.

That was the worst disconnect I’ve had since I got back, but not the only one: the little ones just keep coming. I was in the grocery store and became alarmed that no one was making eye contact with me. They would steer their carts to avoid collisions, but other than that I might have been invisible. On the rare occasion that I did make eye contact, the other would quickly look away, like they were scared.

I find my eyes are constantly casting around for beauty, light, fire – either big orange tongues of flame or little sparks of connection. Instead I find banal architecture, half-assed landscaping and endless identical cars with little bits of flair slapped on. There’s no spontaneous art, just bland lowest-common-denominator commercial design. Nobody has dressed up to catch my eyes. Nobody is doing something amazing for its own sake.

The change, of course, is all in me. Wolfe was wrong: you can go home again, but you can’t go all the way home, and not all of you makes it there. So
what happened to me? I was a perfectly dysfunctional tech geek keeping my head down and getting all my beauty through a computer screen just two weeks ago, but I made a huge mistake: I experienced a bigger world. I exposed myself to a city full of beautiful people who cracked open my shell and delivered me, gasping, onto the playa sands. I don’t want to keep my head down and live inside myself anymore. I want what I had out there. I want what I finally broke through and reached on that last beautiful night.

But there’s more than one way to get, and one of those ways is to give. So I said hello to the hardware store cashier, and asked her how her day was going. I listened to her answer, and asked follow up questions. Startled, she looked me in the eyes (yes!) and started talking to me about what was going on in her life. We continued our little conversation as we walked to the propane tanks to swap out my empty, and kept talking even after the transaction was complete. I decided not to push my luck and go for a hug, but gave her as big a smile as I thought I could get away with in a hardware store parking lot in suburban Colorado.

So there it was, my high point of the day, my little human connection. I got my fix of whatever it is I got addicted to out there on the playa, and realized that it doesn’t come with the price of a ticket – pumped out of big tanker trucks by DPS from and contained inside the trash fence – but is made everywhere, by everyone. And it has to be made fresh every day, like bread, or we all starve.

You people have ruined me. Thank you.

Ralph

Comments

comments

125 Comments to “"You people have ruined me. Thank you."”

  1. Mateo 28 September 2010 at 2:47 am #

    Love it, love it, love it! Couldn’t go this year, BUT I will definitely make the effort next year!!!

  2. marisa pfenning 28 September 2010 at 3:00 am #

    gave me chills the entire time i was reading this

  3. Dan 28 September 2010 at 3:13 am #

    I understand exactly how you felt. I too had trouble when I returned home, also to suburban Colorado. Nothing felt quite as real in the so called real world as it did out on the playa. The depression really hit when I realized that I would not be able to feel that feeling for at least a year, and that is only if I can afford it in 2011.

  4. Dave 28 September 2010 at 3:15 am #

    Glad to have helped!

  5. General Nuisance 28 September 2010 at 3:39 am #

    Thank you Ralph for getting it.

  6. Hans Van de Looy 28 September 2010 at 3:46 am #

    Great story!! Definitely worth reposting! 🙂

  7. Hrg 28 September 2010 at 3:47 am #

    The man has a strange effect on how we view the world outside of BRC that is truely the wondrful thing about being in harmony with 50000 people that are there for the same reason as you to go home and to feel the positivity that makes creativity the focus of community if only for a week once a year. It really makes a person wonder why can’t the world be the way it’s suppose to be in complete harmony where you are free to be whatever it is that makes you happy to be in the city of dust of loud music of art and culture there is absolutley NO PLACE LIKE HOME !!! see you on the playa as soon as I go home

  8. Mark S Couto 28 September 2010 at 3:48 am #

    So many times I have mistakenly made eye contact at my local grocery store and felt that feeling that I was being perverted by doing so as both parties quickly broke the eye contact.Such a sad state of affairs we humans–I have not been burning in 5 years now–woo is me

  9. JakeRyan 28 September 2010 at 4:00 am #

    Your experience window this year feels just like mine, I went alone away from my safety net and the second I felt dust I was covered in new friends. Tomorrow I hug the check-out person at home. Thank you for your words~

  10. Astro 28 September 2010 at 5:15 am #

    Aww. I love reading this stuff it makes me smile so hard my face starts to hurt. I’ve been ruined for years and absolutely love it. The connections you can randomly make in the default world are amazing, and usually trickier so they have their own lovely burny default worldy flavour. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Dusty Hugs,
    Astro

  11. Patrizia Male 28 September 2010 at 6:13 am #

    I experienced Afrika Burn, the South African version of Burning Man the first time this year. We are still small here in South Africa in the Northern Karoo – 2500 people this year.

    Even though we are small, I had the same experience on my drive home which takes 2 days (1 400km). Pass lots of small towns and people and they just have no idea what life is about.

    Thanks for posting and awesome blog.

    We will be back to Afrika Burn next year and planning Burning Man for 2011

    Whooo hooo!!!!

  12. Sista Love 28 September 2010 at 6:25 am #

    Yes, now you have burn in your blood and will forever be changed. The Man has done his job! Emmbrace your new found Love and share your awarness with your brothers and sisters. Thanks for sharing and reminding all. Peace!

  13. Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  14. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  15. Beau message RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  16. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  17. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  18. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  19. Why #burningman is also on my bucket list: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." –Ralph http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  20. Erin 28 September 2010 at 7:39 am #

    It’s an amazing feeling when you accidentally run into your family out in the “real” world tho! When you make eye contact and the connection snaps n sizzles because you both *know* eachother, even tho you just met.. Keep spreading the love, bring those people -home- with you next year.. 🙂

  21. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  22. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  23. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  24. "You people have ruined me. Thank you." – http://mjmfilms.com/2010/you-people-have-ruined-me/

  25. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  26. about #burningman… wanna go there? you sure? read this – http://mjmfilms.com/2010/you-people-have-ruined-me/

  27. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  28. Next year! Definitely! RT @mathys: about #burningman… wanna go there? you sure? read this – http://bit.ly/acOO7L

  29. Teary smile :') RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  30. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  31. @JoOLzEeE Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT #burningman

  32. Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  33. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  34. Double A (~Aa) 28 September 2010 at 8:27 am #

    http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=470583280733 Thank you. Dust Happens.

  35. juicy 28 September 2010 at 8:27 am #

    I hear you, Ralph. I’m feeling similarly after my first burn. A connected experience in Fed Ex the other day was like a little flame of excitement. I’ll join you in making fresh bread out here in New England one smile at a time.

  36. Louis Dallara 28 September 2010 at 8:36 am #

    WOW !!! Ralph that is so beautiful I’m crying right now !
    Man thanks for sharing, I had a ticket and wanted to go, but wife didn’t want me to go, so I stayed home and was sad, but it was in my heart, so at the Photo club talk I was giving I used the live feeds for the music and the video from the playa and people asked what’s that?? I said burning man where my heart is.. I’ll be there next year come hell or high water… Burn Baby Burn… I love you Ralph and keep talking to the cashiers, they need it.
    Lou

  37. hippiechick 28 September 2010 at 8:46 am #

    Burning Man isn’t a one week event, it’s a way of life. It’s so hard though. I feel like I just came back from the moon!

    Hold onto the feeling!

  38. RT @touchparties: RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  39. Great read ! RT @mathys about #burningman… wanna go there? you sure? read this – http://mjmfilms.com/2010/you-people-have-ruined-me/

  40. Nico 28 September 2010 at 8:55 am #

    After my first (and second!) Burning Man, I also noticed the same thing about eye contact.
    It’s sort of sad to find so many people avoiding being looked into their eyes, but it makes it pretty wonderful when it happens every now and then and you just smile and say hi.

  41. "You people have ruined me. Thank you." – http://mjmfilms.com/2010/you-people-have-ruined-me/

  42. "You people have ruined me. Thank you." – http://mjmfilms.com/2010/you-people-have-ruined-me/ #burningman

  43. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  44. stash 28 September 2010 at 9:31 am #

    Noticed it as soon as we hit Reno. All the fellow burners were happy, looking at you and responding with a resounding hello and a smile and in the store or restaurant you even got a hug at times.

  45. britzbitz 28 September 2010 at 9:33 am #

    Yes! Amazing! Beautiful!

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It was such an uplifting read.

    I’ve been going to a local Canadian electronic music festival for years now, so I went through everything you went through at/after the Burn this year about 8 years ago. But it’s wonderful to hear a story like this retold, through someone else’s eyes. Reminds me of my first “post-Shambhala”.

    I got rid of my “virgin problem” this year too…First Burn. It was amazing. Can’t wait to go back home (in a couple years – my wedding is right around the time of BM next year).

    Of the many random signs I saw on the Playa, one that really stuck with me is “Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.”

    LOVE. <3

  46. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  47. Shelley 28 September 2010 at 9:42 am #

    This is exactly what started the “hippie” movement – living through the 50’s and trying to relate to people who walked with their heads down and frowned all the time – a smile freaks them out.

  48. BirdWannaWhistle 28 September 2010 at 9:47 am #

    Yes. YES. YES! I have also found my home in Colorado, which I love, to be less *vivid* since returning from Metropolis. And am also trying to find the small ways to bring The Burn into my life the other 51 weeks. Thanks for sharing.

  49. Ben 28 September 2010 at 10:03 am #

    I noticed exactly the same thing when coming back. “burning man will ruin your life in the best way possible.

  50. Crimson 28 September 2010 at 10:04 am #

    I had one extremely negative social experience at the very end of Burning Man that was effecting how I thought about my whole week. I’ve been working through it to put the experience behind me but your blog post has helped me even more to remember all of those smiles, friendly conversations and interactions that just don’t happen in the default world. Thank you.

  51. Nella 28 September 2010 at 10:14 am #

    Thank you for the writing. I’ve not been, however, having read much that’s been written and having seen many videos and pictures. I get it.

    I am making a conscious effort to connect with those around me. A smile, a wave, or even just letting someone in on the freeway.

    For twenty years I have wanted to attend. It’s looking good for next year! N

  52. Owl Mama 28 September 2010 at 10:15 am #

    This is simply fantastic. Sending lots of hugs through the ether… OwlMama ^o,o^

  53. Yes. This. via @Safetybitch // RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  54. "nobody was doing something amazing for its own sake"…."you people have ruined me. Thank you." A beautiful little post http://is.gd/fxgyw

  55. D'Nah 28 September 2010 at 10:33 am #

    Try looking at your default world in a whole new way. As if you had just landed here from another planet. Then you will see how fabulous and creative everything is, it just moves at a much slower pace here. It is you who is bored with the things you have seen too many times. And yes, most people around you are desperately trying to keep everything the same. But there are endless opportunities to discover things you have never noticed before. That’s what burning man showed me!

  56. Lily (Fireminx) 28 September 2010 at 10:50 am #

    )))big hug(((

  57. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  58. RT @veek: Yes. This. via @Safetybitch // RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  59. HoneyBee 28 September 2010 at 11:09 am #

    We are one species with “no one right way to live” (Daniel Quinn).
    May we all reach out just a little bit more and try to spark connections…

  60. Helixion 28 September 2010 at 11:44 am #

    Thank you Ralph! I have woken many times in the last 6 years in my ancient brass and iron bed to see the whole playa night going off around me. And felt the sense of loss during Exodus, watching for the dusty vehicles all the way home, a last chance to wave and smile before the default world re-asserts itself and hugging the clerk is not ok, and the first thought of the stranger you offer a drink is to wonder what harmfull substance may be in it. But we will offer the bread whether it is accepted or not, because that’s how we keep it alive. Huge hugs for you!

  61. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  62. Big Chief 28 September 2010 at 11:59 am #

    It’s even more fun to bring your friends. Welcome to my 358 days of Hell, bitches!

  63. Caprica 28 September 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    Good to meet you, Ralph! *hug grin & hug*

    I missed this year, and felt a little hole in my life. So, I burned my bamboo Man effigy in my fireplace & remembered Burning Man is everywhere you take it; it is a lifestyle.

    Keep grinning, keep chatting, keep contacting eyes 😉 …and maybe try a small hug sometime. The Burn life is infectious.

    Huuuuuuugs!
    Cap

  64. Rio Gordon 28 September 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    Thank you for the wonderful words…I have been “ruined” as well…rotten and intolerably dis-used to the intolerant and close minded world of misogyny, self-serving, and fear, ruined forever to the experience of abandonment, miscommunication and ignorant interaction, made whole by the thin film of alkaline earth and the throbbing beats in my core….forever healed by mama playa, and shown a new way to be…thank you for your eloquence, see you back home! (Start preparing your costumes and a cool installation and plucking away change for your ticket…it takes the drivel of waiting away, and it makes the playa come faster than you might like…)

  65. Jake Wilson 28 September 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    I know exactly what you mean, I am sad to say that im a car salesman, but what I love about my job isnt the selling of cars but the amount of people I get to meet and talk to and have a small window into their life and even though I don’t sell them a car , or i do, I like to let them leave knowing that I listened and I cared about what was going on in their lives. Most of my customers actually call me on my cell phone to hang out with them or have coffee and just talk because they liked that I took the time to listen and make them apart of my life and them apart of mine and i didnt talk about them buying a car. It’s times like those that we forget to put down the cell phone and shut of the computer and have a face to face conversation with someone and actually look them in the eyes and have a physical connection, its pathetic these days that in order to have a connection with someone you have to text them or email them. Gone are the days of Human interaction and social intercourse ( yes i meant intercourse not interaction. Society if really going down hill and if efficating itself and only one person is to blame and its Society itself for this disgusting situation we are in now. Thank you for your time and consideration for reading this.

  66. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  67. dangerpuss 28 September 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    This is exactly what happened to me after I returned from my first burn. However, I’m lucky in that I run a nonprofit organization that helps people in low-income housing, so I get to make connections and build community on a daily basis. I definitely upped my contribution to my organization after my first burn! Burning Man has changed the way I do business, giving me inspiration and energy to do what I do.

  68. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  69. I noticed the same thing about Eye Contact. RT: @Burningman you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thx." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  70. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  71. "You people have ruined me. Thank you." – http://mjmfilms.com/2010/you-people-have-ruined-me/

  72. burningmax 28 September 2010 at 3:12 pm #

    Welcome to the playa spirit!

  73. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  74. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  75. lip quiver RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  76. about re-entry (similar to my re-entry) from #burningman: http://mjmfilms.com/2010/you-people-have-ruined-me/

  77. On #burningman and re-entry it sure is NOT EASY! "You people have ruined me" but in a good way! 🙂 http://ow.ly/2L9TE

  78. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  79. Terry 28 September 2010 at 4:34 pm #

    Welcome home, Ralph!

  80. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  81. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  82. Phoenix 28 September 2010 at 5:12 pm #

    Thanks for posting this. I really resonated with the whole story. All the way from the waking up in the middle of the night still thinking I was on the playa to wanting/needing way more connection with everyone I interact with. I’ve been changed and thanks to Ralph for putting it into words.

  83. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  84. Tiffanie 28 September 2010 at 5:16 pm #

    Thanks for sharing. It is difficult to describe what gets cracked open in a person who really comes alive in BRC. This truly touches on it. And puts the ball back in our court – to be Burners Without Borders whether the setting is Earthquake Relief, or Suburb Relief.

  85. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  86. Niffsniff 28 September 2010 at 5:20 pm #

    So beautifully written and so very true didn’t go this year and felt so disconnected first time in four years I haven’t been.each year brings yet another small change within me and I take that back to my default world in Australia and try to fuse the worlds together bit by bit…BM my little slice of heaven such a magical wonderland xo

  87. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  88. Great post Burning Man story, "You people have ruined me. Thank you." – http://mjmfilms.com/2010/you-people-have-ruined-me/

  89. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  90. RT @bikeandboots: Great post Burning Man story, "You people have ruined me. Thank you." – http://mjmfilms.com/2010/you-people-have-ruine

  91. Angelica 28 September 2010 at 6:25 pm #

    This is exactly how I felt when I came back to San Diego this year, which was also my first burn. I smile at people and am lucky if they smile back, but slowly, I am making my connections 🙂

  92. Alvin 28 September 2010 at 6:28 pm #

    DuDe… That was really moving, and I understand your feelings. You just made my day for someone..others too get what I’m going through.

  93. James Starke 28 September 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    Perfect, thank you Ralph!!! Is this happening times 50,000?? I hope so. Bittersweet, just have to embrace it and move forward. We can’t forget and go back to the way it was. Makes it more painful to be in the reg world but requires me to make this place a little like that place each day just to survive. Wonderful to see this is not so uncommon!

  94. bringing human connection back (from the playa). Beautiful. http://mjmfilms.com/2010/you-people-have-ruined-me/

  95. Bonefire Bob 28 September 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    Thanks Ralph, back from my 15th Burn in a row I’ve been completely ruined for quite some time. Thanks for reminding me and maybe we’ll meet someday on the Playa.

  96. George 28 September 2010 at 8:52 pm #

    While I don’t share the disconnects from reality, except for the times when I go to retrieve something from my care and suddenly remember I need to wear pants just as I am reaching for the door, I can relate to this story.

    I also notice how disconnected people are. I also notice all the trash all over the place. Maybe neighborhoods would actually be better places if people did something very simple like picked up around their house and cleaned off the sidewalk. Bet the attitude of the entire neighborhood would pick up.

    Folks, we need to look each other in the eye, share bits of our lives, at least pretend we are friends if we don’t know each other and maybe we will discover that we really are friends that just hadn’t met yet.

  97. JEN 28 September 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GOING THROUGH! Seriously, and I’m SO happy to hear I’m not the only loon. No, really, my first night home from my first year at BM I woke up in the middle of the night, saw the colorful lights and desert sky with stars, heard the techno beats, saw the back of a pickup truck RV in front of me, thought “Holy shit, how did I get back here?!” I leaned forward and touched the playa floor with a trembling hand only to realize it was my carpet and everything I was seeing was shadows on my bedroom walls, the sound of traffic, etc. It lasted for at least 15 seconds and was convinced I’d lost it.

    AND, the human connection thing, it’s not like that everywhere. My virgin from New Zealand couldn’t figure out what the big deal was all about, because people in her town are as warm and open as Burners. I’m moving out of the bay area because I’m OVER the coldness, I’m DONE with feeling like *I* am the one who is ruined. It doesn’t have to be this way, and I’m encouraged to find a home where it isn’t.

    BIG hug to you Ralph.

  98. Everyone should read this! http://ow.ly/2Ll8V #burningman #travel

  99. patricia 28 September 2010 at 10:01 pm #

    WoW thanks for posting this…everybody is trying to be like everybody else and it’s a real drain, a real drag!
    I liked to read about life through your eyes, it seems like an actual life!

  100. Unk Vic 28 September 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    Watz so domned hot about Reality, anyyhoot?

  101. Michi 28 September 2010 at 10:58 pm #

    Wow. I’ve been through the exact same middle-of-the-night disconnect after the burn (wtf kind of dome IS this?) Nice to know I’m not the only one!

    Beautifully written. And after 5 burns under my belt, I’m seeing small bits of BRC sneaking into the default world. We can make it so!! xoxo

  102. Chayla 28 September 2010 at 11:16 pm #

    Burning Man is the best thing that ever happened to me. I cant wait to pass this post on to other burners. I am 100%moved and I hope to remember that in every move I make. Its totally necessary for these decomp parties! You go to heaven for a week then its back to a million things that arent stunningly beautiful! Its ALOT! I hope to meet you, all of you, in 2011

  103. Oh Kay 28 September 2010 at 11:53 pm #

    your post about waking up was exactly what I experienced my 1st night home – I sort of opened my eyes and thought, “How does this tent have stairs that go DOWN?” “This is a great, white tent I’m waking up in ” – it really took me a few minutes to consolidate myself into this other, everyday world. Good for you – eye contact, beauty…good for you!

  104. Ranger Mickey 29 September 2010 at 12:18 am #

    *So* glad that we ruined the mundane world for you 🙂 You’re a better person, and we’re a better community, for it.

    Absolutely thrilled that you made a human connection and – in some small way – changed her life as well. You may have ruined mundane people for her.

    Good job. Rest up for tomorrow, and hurry safely back to the playa. We’ll be waitin’ for you.

  105. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  106. …huh. He's right. Hm. RT @burningman Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  107. Dirty Hippie 29 September 2010 at 3:15 am #

    I think the most to be learned from what you said is based in this sentence: “Nobody is doing something amazing for its own sake.”

    I feel that sums up the essence of why we “fail”. B.M. came out of the Cacophony Society after all, and a prime ethos of Cacophonists is to Do Something Amazing simply for the sake of doing so.

  108. RT @bikeandboots Great post Burning Man story, "You people have ruined me. Thank you." – http://mjmfilms.com/2010/you-people-have-ruined-me/

  109. Nat 29 September 2010 at 1:11 pm #

    Really great post this, loved it. The disconnect wasn’t so bad for me as it seems to be for some, as my old hometown in Australia is the kind of place where people still do say hi to you on the street and full of the kind of people who’d be right at home at BM, but heading back via Reno was WEIRD to the extreme, having dinner at some joint and feeling like I’d been thrown into a muted world, the artificial lighting made me feel like something had put a dampener on my senses and nothing felt ‘real’ there. Went for a hike with some friends a few days later, me and two other female friends were trying to grab a lift with someone back down the hill we’d just climbed – and faced a barrage of fearful and suspicious glances, I despaired. Woke up in a hostel to the sounds of an angry drunk on the street and couldn’t understand how anyone could be angry – at Burning Man?? Luckily I ran into a lot of fellow burners and travellers post burn so it helped the transition.
    Seem to be three standard reactions from people you tell you’ve been to BM
    – Oh? What is it?
    – Ooooooooooooooooooooooh…..always wanted to go to that
    – Burner! *hug
    😉
    Love to the burners – and burners-to-be, can’t wait to be back x

  110. NovySan 29 September 2010 at 1:52 pm #

    I cried in public the first time I came back and no one would make eye contact with me in the grocery store. I literally set down my basket and walked from the store with tears running down my face. I realized I’d been changed forever and for the better and I was distraught that 99.999% of the population would never know the wonder and beauty I’d been able to live with and try to maintain.

    Thanks for this post.

    NovySan

  111. Katha Dalton 29 September 2010 at 3:43 pm #

    Oh yes.

  112. River 29 September 2010 at 4:04 pm #

    Cracked open is a good way to look @ it but instead of yoke – some beautiful bird comes out and can’t fit back in. I think it is a drive towards common consciousness and if we can link humanity together through beauty – what egg will come out of that shell?

  113. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  114. MorTisha 29 September 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    Hey Ralph ~ after 10 years of doin the desert thing, every year i find more and more of the playa reality in my real world. i see people – they see me. i do things i didn’t think i could do. i don’t do things i don’t really want to do. the disconnect becomes smaller and smaller every time. it’s not about holding your breath until you get back, but learning to live yer playa life all year long.
    dusty kisses,
    ~ t

  115. Wherein I comment at the end. "You people have ruined me:" http://mjmfilms.com/2010/you-people-have-ruined-me/

  116. Napalm 30 September 2010 at 2:32 am #

    Two short but very important quotes come to mind here:

    “Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Gandhi

    “You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem.” – Eldridge Cleaver

    Great story!!! Love love love

  117. Chris 30 September 2010 at 12:44 pm #

    Amazing. Just got back from my first burn and you really captured the feeling of ‘returning home.’ Needless to say, I’m also ruined (fixed?) now and hopefully will be for life.

  118. Novia 30 September 2010 at 7:06 pm #

    I was a virgin this year and lost count of how many times something brought tears to my eyes and when I try to describe the experience back in the default world I cry again. It has got to be the largest collection of nice people ANYWHERE. When people are that friendly in the real world we suspect they want something or are on medication. Shame on us!! Go against the grain..and be NICE!

  119. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  120. […] If you’re already a burner and just want your fix, here’s a link to the absolute “must read” article: “You people have ruined me. Thank you.” […]

  121. RT @burningman: Yeah, you'll want to read this: "You people have ruined me. Thank you." http://bit.ly/8YNHzT

  122. RT @bikeandboots: Great post Burning Man story, "You people have ruined me. Thank you." – http://mjmfilms.com/2010/you-people-have-ruine

  123. http://tinyurl.com/23ypeso – Wolfe was wrong: you can go home again, but you can’t go all the way home, and not all of you makes it there.

  124. […] revisited Ralph’s essay on Burning Man, which drew something like 18,000 viewers when I posted it on my blog. I remember how I first read […]

  125. stephen rosenberg 13 December 2011 at 11:06 am #

    you should have hugged her. you have today’s peeps you can hug. unless we’ve trapped you already.


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