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Burning Man 2011: Dear Temple Video

September 14, 2011

<p><a href=”″>Dear Temple of Transition</a> from <a href=””>Ian MacKenzie</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

As joyous as the Burning Man video “Home” is, “Dear Temple of Transition” by Ian MacKenzie is solemn yet equally moving.

For the first time, this year I only visited the inside of the Temple at Burning Man at night. I have always visited the Temple the morning after the Burn but this year it was closed early: its huge size required more preparations than usual. (How huge? Only the third tallest wooden structure in the world–until it burned.)

I did get out to the Temple of Transition three times and went inside twice. The first time was Thursday night. It was very beautiful in every aspect as you can see from the video. People were quiet and respectful. Hundreds of people were laying on the ground in the center silently listening to the gamelan play. Hundreds more roamed the structure placing their own tokens of mourning and grief, their rites of passage.

I couldn’t stay long the first time. It was too hard, there was too much grief in 2010, too much loss, too many transitions to process all at once: from the loss of simple tangible items like having my hair cut and colored brown against my will to losing my favorite coat to losing my Ganesh and kyanite necklace to the loss of my mother and the loss of my friend Paul Squires and the near loss of my husband when he broke his C2 vertebrae. In 2011, my husband was fully recovered and able to attend Burning Man, my hair is back to its natural blond with fun pink and orange and red and both Ganesh and my jacket turned up since we returned.

At the Temple on our next visit on Burn night, I left two copies of my poetry book, Middle of the Night Poems From Daughter to Mother :: Mother to Son, one copy for Paul and one copy for my mom. I could barely inscribe them. Afterwards, we rode our bikes over to Charon and my son and husband worked with others to get Peter Hudson’s amazing zoetrope going.

The following day, we returned to the Temple: my son had written a postcard for my mom, his grandma, and he wanted to place it there and my husband wanted to write something too. Since it was closed, Temple Guardians had a box for people to place objects as well as wood for people to write on.

On one side of the Temple was a large sculpture of the letters L O V E. On the other side of the sculpture, barely in sight, was Peter Hudson’s magnificent zoetrope Charon which we visited again for some daytime photos after I placed my books in the Temple.

My experience of the Burn of the Temple itself left much to be desired: we were on a packed art car with a bunch of families from Kidsville. My son and husband and a few others went to the playa to watch. My son was insistent that I join them so I did. Unfortunately a young girl needed a lot of attention and with her chatter and antics kept trying to get it from us and her parents. This distraction prevented me from letting myself be in the moment of the Burn as I have been able to do in the past. Of course, letting her distract and annoy me seemed much easier than sobbing.

We are of course responsible for our own experiences at Burning Man, but when you are part of a family, it is no longer just about you. I struggled with what to do that would be best for my family and gave in to trying to accept what it was instead of what I hoped it would be.

Next year, we’ll ride our bikes out at sunset and sit together…

PS I am reading from my 3:15 experiment poetry collection tomorrow night at Bank of Books on Main in Ventura. Please join me!

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