Radical Inclusion

I’m going to write this story once so that I don’t hold on to it longer than necessary.

I was at a bar having a great time when a gentleman sat down next to me.

He was Middle Eastern and since my dad is Middle Eastern I wanted to talk to him about where he was from.

So I politely asked him where he was from.

Oakland.

Oh, I see. I only asked because my father is from Lebanon and I thought you might be too.

Well, it turns out he WAS from Lebanon.

Beirut actually, just like my father.

So we chatted about the old country and farms and Burning Man.

He asked me what my favorite Burning Man principle was.

I replied that it was definitely RADICAL INCLUSION.

I can come off as awkward from time to time so I like a principle that encourages people to embrace me despite my weirdness.

He agreed with me.

We were having such a good time talking, we barely noticed the bartender who was hanging around us, muttering under his breath.

But suddenly, we both VERY CLEARLY heard a racial slur come from his direction.

One I don’t care to repeat, but which was so troubling to me that I froze out of fear.

Of course, I look Scandinavian, not Middle Eastern, so the man’s comments were directed to my new friend, but for a brief second, I felt was it was like to be disliked because of something as insubstantial as heritage.

And it was frightening.

By now, all we could hear was the sound of this man’s voice, very clearly continuing on this path of racial discrimination.

My new friend gave me a hug, and left the bar after sharing a few words with the bartender.

I sat there in silence for a while, thinking about the Radical Inclusion principle which should have protected my friend from racism.

But didn’t.

Radical Exclusion

Burning manI’m not gonna lie.

Burning Man was HARD ON ME.

The best comparison I can think of is that it was like climbing through a meat grinder – you come out the other side and you’re all there but you’re drastically changed.

I experienced a painful lesson in radical exclusion. So painful in fact, that I still can’t think about it without crying and it tends to take over my entire perception of my burn.

Pain. Exclusion. Hurt. Rejection.

With time, I expect that the hurtful parts of my burn will fade and the pleasant and fun memories will take over.

But for now, I sit here writing this post in tears, trying to make sense of what happened and wondering whatever happened to the Burning Man principle of Radical Inclusion.

Enlightenment or a snow cone?

michelle beachAs I prepare to go to the playa for a second time, I can’t help but reflect on my experiences during my first trip there.

What worked? What didn’t?

I’ve made up my mind already to be very inclusive of my campmates.

Being excluded during last year’s Burning Man was a painful experience and one I don’t want to repeat for anyone else.

Yes, it’s my burn and I can do what I want but I feel like I need to take the 10 principles to heart and really look out for and care for my fellow burners.

Big heart = Big burn

My motto will be “Leave love everywhere you go.”

Last year I had a magical moment when I handed out my gift – chapstick – to a group of burners out in deep playa who were desperately in need of chapstick.

I hope to have a similar experience this year.

A moment when the universe unfolds exactly as it should and the divine plan is revealed.

Either that, or a snow cone.

I’ll take a snow cone, too.

I’m flexible like that.

UnScruz

unscruzThe invitation came by again on Facebook – TICKETS FOR UNSCRUZ.

I should really look into getting tickets with some friends, I thought.

As if reading my mind, my friend Marina texted me, “Are we going to the Santa Cruz burner weekend? It looks like fun…”

OH PERFECT!

A weekend in Santa Cruz with Marina and her boy toy!

What could be better?

So I bought my ticket and I’m going to UnScruz for the first time in my budding burner lifetime.

UnScruz is a regional Burning Man event which seeks to bring the spirit of Burning Man to Santa Cruz County through radical self expression and radical inclusion.

It’s like a mini Burning Man, for lack of a better description.

I love these regional events. The smaller size is more compatible with my sense of the space time continuum. At Burning Man, I’m a little bit daunted by the size and scope of it.

There’s dancing, there’s music, there’s art, there’s performance, there’s fire (I think), there’s hooping, there’s costumes, there’s interactivity, there’s EVERYTHING!

I fully expect to be completely blown away that weekend.

I know. I know. Beware of expectations. They have a way of biting you in the ass.

But at least this time I’m going by myself so I HAVE NO EXPECTATIONS OF COMPANIONSHIP FROM A LOVER.

I do however hope I find a lover.

‘Nuf said.

Radical Exclusion

Burning manI’m not gonna lie.

Burning Man was HARD ON ME.

The best comparison I can think of is that it was like climbing through a meat grinder – you come out the other side and you’re all there but you’re drastically changed.

I experienced a painful lesson in radical exclusion. So painful in fact, that I still can’t think about it without crying and it tends to take over my entire perception of my burn.

Pain. Exclusion. Hurt. Rejection.

With time, I expect that the hurtful parts of my burn will fade and the pleasant and fun memories will take over.

But for now, I sit here writing this post in tears, trying to make sense of what happened and wondering whatever happened to the Burning Man principle of Radical Inclusion.