Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On the Train Platform

I arrived to the station eighteen minutes before my train. After inserting a combination of coins to pay for my 320 yen ticket, I made my way to the mostly empty platform.

Being early has it's advantages. I was able to sit in an empty seat next to an older Japanese woman. Her eyes were closed beneath large rimmed glasses and her head bowed towards the shopping bag at her feet.

The Japanese, I've learned, spend a lot of time on trains. Napping in the process is quite common.  Looking at the clock, I still had about fourteen minutes until my train would arrive, so I took out my iPad to catch up on some reading.  As I read, the platform filled, mostly with school children heading home for the day.

A familiar chime told me the train was approaching, and I stood just as it arrived. Looking over, I saw that the older woman was still dozing. The doors to the train opened and a uniformed swarm of kids began filling the cars. The woman didn't move.

I hesitated for a moment, and then gently touched her shoulder saying, "Sumi ma sen." Excuse me.

Her eyes opened, and I gestured to the train. "Ah!" She looked at me with complete gratitude. "Arigato a gazze mash te." Thank you so very much, she said, and then quickly picked up her shopping bag and ambled onto the train, disappearing among the students.

I boarded the train as well, sat down and finished the article I started reading on the platform.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Decompression Burning Man 2012

Every year I go to Burning Man, Decompression is a little different. Decompression is the period after the Burn when we come back to the Default World possibly overwhelmed by stimulation overload and definitely dusty.  I think one of the draws for those who regularly attend the event is escapism.  When you're out there on the Playa, your preoccupations are geared more towards survival than voice mail. It's always a bit of a transition coming back.

This year for me was different. I was fortunate enough to be asked to come early for set up and stay late for post event operations. I was on the Playa for a total of 34 days. Working behind the scenes is definitely more my speed. Event week was merely an increase in the number of people I saw every day.

Working is what I do best, and when I'm busy I'm at my best. I always say I learn something every year at the Burn and this year I think I realized not just how much I love to work, but how purposeful work contributes to my overall well being. I'm a different person when I have good work. I'm stronger, more motivated, and make better decisions.

I admit, that I was worried going in this year. I was worried about my stamina and whether or not I'd be able to pull my weight. But, as soon as I got there, something in me just clicked into gear. Before I knew it I was my truest self again, enjoying an experience not many get to have.

It was an interesting Burn highlighted by the epic and unexpected. I had an evening of Playa tales with Naked Bob and Cowboy Carl and made conversation with Bruno in Italian. I rode on a fluffer van, got a donut from a cop, sang with the Jerks on BMIR radio and had the best view of the burn yet. I made some new friends and cemented friendships that were merely acquaintances a couple of years ago.

I'm happy to have made it there and back and of course can't wait to do it again next year.