“Radical self reliance, bitches, ” my ride had sweetly yet firmly yelled as she walked away into the darkness, with the car keys. While I looked on in both sheer horror and pleasant surprise, I understood completely – this was going to be an adventure to remember. Sure, we had just spent 8 beautiful bonding hours waiting in line together - but I didn’t really need that pillow anyway.
I had decided to go to Midburn only a few days ahead of time. It had popped up on my Facebook feed and after curiously diving in to explore what it was, I needed IN. Art. Music. Community. Desert. Values I try to live by everyday – sign me the eff up!
Without a second thought, and for possibly the first time in my life - without conferring with a second person - I got a ticket, found a ride, and started googling how to pitch a tent by yourself. I was venturing on my first ‘real’ solo journey.
Okay, so it was only 3 hours away from home in Tel Aviv – but for these 5 days in the Mediterranean desert, it was going to be the first time I let no one and nothing hold me back from doing what I wanted to do (or so I thought).
I knew this trip would be unlike any other. And it was. From that time I played harmonica surrounded by a band of beautiful men, to the best tasting wedding cake grabbed by the hand full, to that super embarrassing memory I had to tell the clown rabbi for a cup of home-brewed beer, OR when that slice of cold watermelon magically appeared while dancing in the rain forest...and I could go on...
But for now, here are a few things I picked up along the way that you should note if you’re heading to the Playa for the first time, as a free bird or not.
1. Water is energy
Hands down THE MOST IMPORTANT note to remember. The only reason I survived Midburn last year was thanks to the 2-liter aqua backpack I carried with me at all times. The desert is hot and dusty. It basically exists to suck you dry, both in moisture and in energy. Water is LIFE in the desert. So...
Drink when you’re feeling hot or cold.
Drink when you’re feeling young or old.
Drink when you’re full and as soon as you wake,
Drink when it’s dark or witha piece of cake.
Get it? Just drink. And don’t forget to include a few extra 2-liter bottles for Camp Shtifale, where you can get lubed up and washed down in the showers with pleasure.
2. NOMO FOMO
Be prepared to feel massive overwhelm at all the amazing things that are happening around you – which is where the value of Immediacy comes in. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want – sounds great until you want to do EVERYTHING. From art installations to relaxation, from workshops to camp meals, from parties to DJs, Midburn is an adult playground unlike any other. The point is to feel good doing exactly what you’re doing, when you’re doing it.
If you don’t, either move on or get okay with it. Practice living in the moment and take full-hearted part in that moment. If you continuously dream of the “next best thing”, you will never ever ever f*cking ever feel a sense of satisfaction.
3. A gift can be anything
Forget the typical definition of gifts. No need to wrap or buy anything. Sure – it’s kind and plenty do. But what Midburn gifting is about is this - opening your eyes to the people around you and looking for opportunities to give kindness within our one community.
Being observant of others around you and choosing to SEE them means you are able to extend your humanity to meet another’s, to offer an opening of acceptance, even if it’s ‘just’ a smile to someone walking by alone. No exchange needed. The simple act of giving, or receiving with your own kind of thank you - is perfectly enough.
4. Self reliance, mother*ckers
As you can tell, I learned this the interesting way. While gifting means giving or getting kindness from strangers on the playa, at the end of the day, you are still solely responsible for YOU. No one else owes you anything. You are responsible for your destiny so create it as you will, bask in the glory of making your own decisions, asking yourself what it is you want, and then going after it – or just lying on the ground for hours staring up at the stars.
5. Know your boundaries
Midburn is a great opportunity to play. Who knew the Mediterranean desert could be the best place to test the waters? It’s cool to fly free and do what feels right and good for you, though it’s important to know your own limits. If someone has crossed them, handle it. You are in control. You are the decision maker. Do not feel hesitant to say no, ask for help, or simply walk away from anything which doesn’t suit your desires.
6. Get silly
Yes, it’s crucial to remain aware – but even more so, to let it go. Every day we spend our lives in the cage of society – feeling as if we need to fit in and live by the same norms that have been predetermined by the stuck up sense of entitlement we’ve landed in. Consider the playa your playground and run free little birds. Get into everything, join the people and bring your own human flavor to this big pot of freedom. Be who you are. Feel who you are. And embrace your childish silliness. Radically express YOSELF. Dress up. Act up. Live it up!
7. It’s all in your mind
You create your entire experience. If life is one big fucking mind game, the playa isn’t that much different. Except that it is – and the more you choose to embody the 10 principles of Midburn, the more you are truly taking advantage of this new home for 5 days.
8. Don’t complain about anything
Yes it’s hot. Yes it’s cold. Yes it’s dusty. Yes the bathrooms are gross. Yes it’s hot. Yes it’s cold. Yes it’s dusty. Yes the bathrooms are gross. Got it? Now, moving on.
9. Forget expectations
Expectations are created in our minds because we imagine what our desired future will be. We build those expectations from external factors, never really fostering our own ability to simply accept what comes.
Letting expectations go means understanding that life is a flow. Good things will happen. Bad things will happen. And the second we remove the need for expectations, we also remove the inevitability of disappointment. So say hello to acceptance and flow - and say goodbye to expectations. They don’t need to exist on the playa, and the choice is yours; simple as that.
10. Take a tech break
Whatever is happening in front of your eyes is way more important than any Facebook update. Take a tech break – seriously. Use this precious and perfect time to revive your senses, nourish your basic needs, and reconnect with nature. Find your freedom, sans phone – you will not be sorry.
11. Wander by yourself
Make it your own journey. If you’re not flying free, then make sure to take time for yourself. To pause. To breathe. To explore. To create your own experiences which don’t have to do with anyone else’s. To leave when you want. To not answer to anyone. To wander. To wonder. To be. Just you. To allow your mind to breathe and settle into an extraordinary experience. To create your own thoughts and opinions. To challenge yourself. To connect with yourself. To re-imagine yourself and live each moment as who you truly want to be.
12. Bring a journal
Direct quote from Day 2. “Everything is amazing, I just don’t know how to handle it. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want – it’s just literally figuring out what I WANT! I want to be a hippie, a dancer, a yogi, a teacher, a learner, a biker, a runner, a photographer, a laugher, a ponderer, a writer, a poet, a friend, a help, a traveler, an explorer, an accepter, a connector, a peacemaker, a lover, a fighter, a life changer, a mover, a shaker, a happiness maker, a believer, a flower, a community builder, a decision maker, a memory maker.”
Enough said. Let your mind go and let your heart directly hit the paper. Release your thoughts, capture your moments, and be able to look back one year later at how far you’ve come, how much you’ve grown, and how much you still want to fly free.
Hope this helped. Don’t forget an umbrella – good for shade under the hot daytime sun. See you on the playa free birdies. You can find me in the sunshine!
Also, read this sweet resource to prep you for Midburn if you haven't already: Midburn Survival Guide