Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rites of Passage

It's that time again. In about six weeks I will be chomping at the bit ready to go to Burning Man once again. This year the theme is Rites of Passage, interesting theme considering this is my 7th Burn. That has to mean something.

I was thinking about Rites of Passage over the holiday weekend as I watched an evening parade to celebrate the Fourth of July.

In my home town, the Fourth of July always meant a Parade, Picnic, Festival and Fireworks. From the time I was about four years old, I can remember always being in the parade. I rode on floats, roller skated, tap danced with a show troupe and marched in bands. A couple of years I rode my pink Hello Kitty bike.

When I moved away from home there were parades too. In Italy, where I was stationed as a young soldier, the Fourth of July meant standing on a parade ground, saluting as cannons were fired and then parading in step to a Sousa march. My favorite was Stars and Stripes Forever, and the first time I marched to this in uniform I admit, I was a bit choked up.

When I worked for a public access television station, I use to say that it was a lot like the Fourth of July Parade where one half of the town lines up to wave at the other half. It's a chance to say hey, this is who we are and what we are about. We're cheerleaders, and dog lovers and ballerinas and classic car enthusiasts. And when we walk down the street, showing that pride, those that recognize and appreciate it smile, wave back and sometimes applaud.

When people ask me about Burning Man, I often tell them it's a festival of self expression. Imagine the biggest Fourth of July parade ever with roaming floats, marching bands, a festival and even picnics in Center Camp. It's a place where you can display your enthusiasm if you dare. And if you are really brave you can allow yourself to display that kind of enthusiasm in the Default World as well. Now there's a Rite of Passage for you.

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