Toward the end of July, I began to get sick of it. It was easy, getting laid in New York, and with some very attractive (and smart, and interesting) people too. I wasn't slumming. But it was boring, and I began waiting for it to end. I knew it would, sooner or later, and I was looking forward to it.
To my surprise, the end came very suddenly and definitely. I was on top of a mountain in the Adirondacks on Tuesday, August 5. As readers in the American Northeast know, this summer was one of the rainiest in years, and the week I spent in the Adirondacks was no exception. My friend Adam and I went canoeing, and got rained on. We camped out, and got rained on. And we hiked up Catamount, and really, really got rained on. By the time we reached the summit, the rain had let up, but both of us were soaked to the bone. I took off most of my clothes to let them dry in the uncertain sun, and more importantly, to let my body dry as well.
I remember looking out at the mountains, which were partly shrouded in low clouds, and all of a sudden noticing: I'm back. It's me. My spiritual side, which was in such eclipse in July, was suddenly very present again: 'Of course,' I felt. My aesthetic sensitivity, which had been dulled throughout my wandering, felt alive again. And I knew that I didn't want to have any more sex.
At Burning Man this year, people talked about sex a lot. The theme of the year was spiritual - "Beyond Belief" - but for a large number of people that meant talking about integrating spirituality and sexuality, which as Zeek readers know is an interest of mine as well. So there were tantric workshops, sacred sexuality classes; I joined the crowd, teaching on "Eros and Kabbalah."
And yet, not much sex. Certainly not for me - I only hooked up twice the entire week. But most of my friends reported the same phenomenon: lots of talk, not so much action. Maybe that was part of the 'energy' of Burning Man this year. But it was disappointing to me. I no longer wanted the cheap sex of July, but I wanted intimacy. At last year's Burning Man, I had some of the best sex of my life, with someone I spent entire days with, blissfully wandering around the desert. I didn't need that exact experience to repeat - but I wanted something.
It wasn't until late in the week that I saw how my single-mindedness was acting as an obstruction, blocking all of the other wonderful things happening during the week in the desert. I would enter massive dance-camps with hypnotic lights and friendly, welcoming energy - but all I'd be looking for would be the cute boy to dance next to. I'd wander across Black Rock City looking for where my bashert was hiding, ignoring sculptures, dancers, fire circles, geodesic domes, art cars the size and shape of whales - everything that wasn't My Goal. I was denying the Now, denying God, idolatrously worshiping an image I had created of what the world should look like.
France and Antisemitism
Josh's Jewish Reminders
Our 390 Back Pages
Zeek in Print
Fall issue now on sale
From previous issues:
Quality of Life
What my grandmother's suffering teaches
The Art of Enlightenment
Carrying Light into Dark Times