To the Burner who pulled a sh*t-covered plastic jug out of the porta-potty,
You and I used the same porta potty last week. It was somewhere in the middle of the large bank at 6:00 and Genuflect. Emblazoned on the door was a decorative placard that read “Liquidate Your Assets”.
I adopted the stall during the week, picking up shards of tp and fallen Tecate soldiers here and there.
When I made my morning pee jar disposal run last Thursday, I saw it: a deformed plastic gallon jug sitting atop a steaming pile of poo.
I looked at the MOOP for a few seconds, upset at the gross violation of Leave No Trace — not to mention Civic Responsibility, Radical Self-Reliance, and Communal Effort. I assessed my own willingness to do something about it.
“Well, there’s no sh*t on the handle,” I thought. “I coouuld pull it out...”
I imagined reaching my hand into the abyss. I imagined my arm reaching so deep that my cheek would be aligned to the plane of the seat.
I imagined that, and I just couldn’t do it.
I’ve been disgusted — but never heartbroken — over a defiled restroom on the playa before. Was it the emotional and physical investment (albeit minimal) I made in that particular stall? Or was it simply the egregious disrespect for our community and DPW exhibited by someone throwing an un-drainable piece of garbage in a communal space?
I left the stall feeling even more dejected than when I left the larger sound camps earlier in the week: After seeing all of the pee stains on the playa this year, feeling all of the womp womp heavy bass at night, and even after a couple less-than-stellar interactions with not-quite-burners, this jug was the most disappointing experience of my burn thus far.
I went back to camp and told my partner about how my pedestrian de-MOOPing efforts were ultimately performed in vain.
But I should not have given up hope so quickly, because the next time I went back that very same day, the jug was laying dormant aside the throne!
YOU reached your hand into the darkness, and YOU took it out.
“The Principles are alive!,” I screamed to myself.
Still, I couldn’t get myself to actually remove the now much more accessible MOOP from the stall, knowing where it had been.
I felt both embarrassment at what I was unwilling to do, yet inspired and reinvigorated by the actions of you, a fellow burner.
One more visit that day, and the jug was gone altogether.
Was it you?
Or was it another?
I was part of a camp that had a magnificent one-masted pirate ship art car, The Anostraca.
Every piece of manzanita adorning the ship was selected with intention.
Every LED hung with love.
It was the first time I got to sail on this ship constructed by a humble and wild group of friends, and it was resplendent in the dusty twilight.
We had majestic sunset cruises. Diplo played us a surprise private set of 80s nostalgia as we sailed through the suburbs. Travis Wild played mellowly energetic beats for seven straight hours; every minute a peak experience.
I connected with my camp on a level that I did not expect partly due to the scorching heat. We spent most days spent sitting beneath shade while spraying each other down with rosewater mist. I had a great date night with my fiancé exploring the art and people of the inner and deep playa. There were tears of joy and struggles from a very public tragedy.
It was a very full burn.
Leaving Black Rock City, some people will remember the art. Some may have been moved by a sunrise set at Robot Heart. Others may reflect with wonder upon the serendipity of our universe.
But what you did did not require The Universe at all. It required only you.
So, when I am asked, “How was it?”, I will respond — before the art, before our ship, and before the serendipity — with a story of how a Black Rock citizen (or two), in an act of infinite kindness, removed a shit-covered piece of garbage from the depths of a porta-potty. I will respond with how your actions and an untold number of acts of generosity such as yours make for a home unlike any other.
Thank you for living the 10 Principles. Thank you for demonstrating that miracles of humanity can exist anywhere and everywhere. Thank you for giving me my Moment on the playa this year.
With sincere love and gratitude,