Stop Looking For Bicycles in the Dark
Lessons from Burning Man
I’m continuing to reflect on this African proverb:
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
I went to my first Burning Man in 2017. I went with a few friends from San Diego, and we shared our RV as shelter for the week. But something about Burning Man invites solo adventures, so I barely saw my roommates all week.
That Burn, there was a beautiful art exhibit named after and inspired by the Tree of Ténéré. One morning, at the Tree, I serendipitously connected with a group of random people for a guided meditation, led by a beautiful Portuguese woman named Claudia.
A few nights later, while riding my bike, I spontaneously ran into Claudia and her friend Julian, in the midst of a chaotic crowd that was gathered for some DJ or concert by the Tree.
Claudia exclaims, “Oh my God, Yuan! We were just talking about you. Synchronicity!”
I ask, “I was just thinking about you guys too! What are you guys up to?"
“We are looking for our bikes,” Claudia replies.
“What color are the lights?” “They’re not on.”
“Where did you leave them? Close to the Tree?” “We’re not sure.”
I look at them and say, “You’re not going to find your bikes. What do you want to do now?”
“We need to find our bikes.”
At that moment, a group of three young Asian women approach us and say, “Are you guys looking for your bikes? Maybe we can team up and look together.” Before, Julian or Claudia can respond, I tell the young ladies, “No thanks. We’re good.” and lock up my bike.
I say, “Let’s set an intention. Where we going?”
Claudia says, “The Mind Warrior.”
“Ok. I have no idea what that is. Where is it?” She points out towards Deep Playa, “Out there somewhere.”
“Ok, let’s go.” I begin walking out into the darkness.
We have an amazing night of adventure, hitching rides on pirate ships, listening to live classical performances under an LED canopy, enjoying dozens of art exhibits. A few hours later, we suddenly and seemingly randomly, found ourselves at the Mayan Warrior. It was a beautiful night. We could have been looking for invisible bikes all night, instead. I assume they found their bikes the next morning.
In this lifetime, when we travel with people, there is a time and place for everything. This metaphor applies deeply to the default world, and I haven’t always been the best at following my own advice, but I’m getting better.
Stop looking for bicycles in the dark.