The Most Surprising Lesson I Learned at Burning Man

Stop chasing. The people and experiences that are meant to be will not require you to catch them.

Written by Amy Chan · 3 min read >
The Most Surprising Lesson I Learned at Burning Man - Heart Hackers Club - Burning man - Burning Man

It’s that time of year again, where I’m sure your social feeds are inundated with pictures of burning man fashion and residual molly-high exclamations of personal transformation. I will be making none of those grand statements, however, will share a few lessons I learned in the dust.

Stop chasing. The people and experiences that are meant to be will not require you to catch them.

My experience this burn was quite calm; no drama, no highs or lows. I felt content, to just be, to observe, and to flow. I wasn’t chasing anything – not parties, not new friends, not experiences, not boys. It was the continuation of a life approach that I’ve been embracing: less doing, more being. Whenever I felt the angst of chasing someone or something, I’d take that as a sign of resistance, pause and get centered again. This is the art of detachment in practice.

Just past that comfort zone, expansion awaits.

In the past, I would leave Burning Man and other events early. There’s a discomfort of endings that feels lonely to me, and in fear of encountering that feeling, I would take off. This year, I decided to push past that, and instead of leaving early as planned, I extended my time to stay until the very end. By doing so, I was pleasantly surprised at the beautiful connections and experiences that followed. Your comfort zone is merely a confine of your mind. Expansion lies on the other side, waiting to be seized. Push through.

When in doubt, choose love. Love wins. Love always wins.

I’ve learned that if you act from a place of love, you always win. It doesn’t matter if that love is reciprocated, it doesn’t matter how someone reacts, it doesn’t matter if someone even notices – an action birthed by true, selfless love is an energy that creates light. Negative emotions will come and go, people will disappoint you, things won’t go as planned, people will unintentionally (and even sometimes intentionally) hurt you – you can’t control that. But if you choose love versus letting your emotions hijack your state of being, you hold your power.

You cannot lose a love that was never meant to be yours.

For the majority of my life, I thought that love was something that needed to be earned. If only I was prettier, if only I tried harder, if only I fixed all the things about me that were broken, if only….

What I’ve learned is that when you meet your energetic match and have a true soul connection, what will manifest and grow will organically do so. You won’t lose it just because you said the wrong thing, didn’t appear perfect or showed your true self. And if you do lose that connection or spark, it was never meant to be your destination, rather a bridge in your journey. Now, I don’t mean that this justifies acting entitled and expecting fate to deliver Prince Charming, nor am I saying that growing a romantic connection doesn’t require effort and intention. Intention is the seed of growth. However, what I am saying is that when there is a true bond, it requires a lot less doing and a lot more being. A resonance will occur where two energy fields will begin to harmonize. It will feel comfortable, it will feel light and it will feel like home.

Trust life’s timing. Pay attention to the people and signs that keep showing up. There’s a message waiting for you.

You could say I’m pretty Type A, and control provides me a sense of safety. I used to force things to happen (or to not happen), using resistance as only more motivation to try harder for something that clearly wasn’t working. You realize quickly on the playa that once you give up your false sense of control, and replace that with openness and curiosity, that you make space for magic to happen. I don’t mean magic in a fairy-dust-transformation sort of way, rather, in the sense that some unexplainable universal force provides the lesson or information you exactly need at that moment.

You may not get what you want, but you do get what you need. Some of my best moments and connections with others were through serendipitous moments of chance. One thing wouldn’t work out as planned, only for me to discover something more fitting was right around the corner. Pay attention to the people and signs that keep showing up. There’s likely a message waiting there for you. If you don’t take a moment to stop and reflect, you might just miss it.

Dare to make space for what you really want, or you’ll constantly be settling for less.

Burning Man acts as a reflection point for me much like how many see a new year. It’s always a time of endings and new beginnings. When you energetically close the door on the past, you create an opening for new possibility.

Make space in your life – for the love you want, the friends you want, the opportunities you want. Set that bar high. Even if this means you need to detox, be alone for a while, or let go of the people and safety nets of comfort that have kept you complacent. Trust that once you’re in alignment, when you’re really in integrity with your authentic self, the universe truly does conspire to make your dreams come true.

Lastly the most surprising lesson I learned is that Burning Man didn’t change. I changed. And because of that, my experience changed. Too often we look to the outside as the answer to make us feel different on the inside. But it’s the other way around. With everything in life, when you make a shift internally, your experience of the same events and people will inevitably transform.

Artwork by Olivia Steele

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2 Replies to “The Most Surprising Lesson I Learned at Burning Man”

  1. This is a beautiful breakdown. I’ve followed the same principles of flow, to just be instead of chasing expectations. I was surprised that I didn’t follow my favorite DJs or take time to take a million pictures of all of the beauty of BM and I don’t regret a single thing. Leaving my camera at camp for the man burn was amazing. There aren’t words for freedom to stay engaged in the moment during possibly the most stimulating experience of my life.

    I will say that quieting the mind and suppressing the ever persistent desire to find a mate seems almost impossible. There have been times where I have the strength to simply exist and turn off the voice that evaluates, measures and prospects every other female. Here there is peace and turning off this voice seems to be much harder than thoughts of possible experiences and the opportunity costs for all of things you can’t do at once in such an amazing place.

    Your first paragraph is beautiful. Assuming you’re single; when in the moment, do you also not gauge the potential compatibility of most others. Do you find it hard not to look around measuring probabilities of those in close proximity?

    1. Thank you Elliott for your thoughtful comment. In regards to your question, I think it’s natural to assess the compatibility and attractiveness of others. We do this on a conscious and subconscious level all the time. My approach is to express interest (this can be communicated in various ways – from verbal, body language, energy) and if the energy is reciprocated then a dance ensues. This is different from chasing someone, being attached to the outcome, or going into conquest mode.

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