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The Assless Chapel Newsletter #18: The New Year Edition

The Chaplain’s Weekly Screed


Happy new year! Not sure what new things you’re all expecting, but Yosi is expecting a new – his very first – drumroll, please… baby! That’s right, Yosi and his wife Shiran have a baby boy on the way! She’s due, if I remember correctly, on July 1st! I was thinking of going to Fourth of JuPlaya this year but may need to fly to upstate New York to be at lil’ Yosi’s circumcision ceremony. And, in case you’re wondering, Shiran – in addition to being smart, successful, beautiful and personable – is also committed to letting Yosi return to Burning Man in 2024, while his parents help her wrangle a 4-month-old baby.


Something many people do to ring in the New Year is to make resolutions for the year. I’d love to hear from you all about your resolutions. This past year, I fell into a habit of celebrating 3 different New Years.


The first is Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. This holiday is not the equivalent of the hedonistic, secular New Year. While it is a celebration, it’s not a wild one and it kicks off a period known as the Yamim Nora’im or Days of Awe. It’s a contemplative holiday, in which we are to take a self-inventory and find new ways to become better people. I take my wife and children to a nearby river for a ceremony called Tashlikh. We cast stones into the river and, with each one, something we want to leave behind: obsessing over work and money, getting upset with others over things that we can let go, etc. It’s a time for internal-facing resolutions and the leaving behind of negative habits.


The second new year for me is Burning Man. For one, it resets the planning cycle for Burning Man. More importantly, the last occurrence of this annual event showed me how the Burn can be a time for introspection and self-discovery in a less contemplative and more actionable way than Rosh Hashana. It’s a good time to decide to add new, positive habits, especially those that are part of the external self: working out more, taking on more household chores or learning a new skill.


By the time the secular New Year rolls around, I have little left to resolve. It’s more of putting together the yearly to do lists. For instance, this year I plan to reorganize my barn, build an at-home automotive shop and I made a list of hikes and camping trips to take on with the family in 2023.


How about you all? I’d love to hear what you have planned for 2023.


Group News


Other than Yosi’s baby on the way, I don’t have any group news. Feel free to send me anything you’d like to share with the group in the next newsletter. Otherwise, I may start making things up.


Black Rock City News


I haven’t gotten to listen to it yet, but this discussion about Burning Man sounds really interesting.


I can’t find a link at this point, but if you’re interested, email the Burning Man Camp Support team to join an online “Campfire Talk” on January 17th at 5p PST. It’s called “Who’s the Boss?: Looking at Camp Leadership Systems, Challenges, and Successes.” We’re small enough that I’m not sure how much we need to learn about leadership systems, but these things usually have some useful guidance and I think it’s good to keep showing my face at everything I can to keep in BORG’s good graces.


I cannot tell you how worth it this article and YouTube video are and, if you have time, read the linked articles in there! It’s a great view into the confluence between the Cacophony Society, San Francisco, Burning Man and Santa Claus. Or, if you’re in the mood for something a bit relaxing, silly, stupid, funny and short, watch this.


Placement / Ticket News


Still waiting for news from Placement. We still don’t even know if we’re in good standing. Time will tell…


Upcoming Tasks


Not much on the horizon, just keep living the Ten Principles in the default world.


Closing Thoughts


New Year’s resolutions can be hard to keep. I think part of that is because we only feel the present and the past. We do not know the future, much less do we experience it in the present moment… at least not in a way that we can feel… well, at least most of us when sober. That’s why one way to help stick with a resolution is to visualize yourself achieving your goal.

Yes, Mongolian is hard to learn, but think about how much more warmly people will welcome you into their yurt when you visit Mongolia. Of course, it’s difficult to work out every day, but focus on how much more in demand you’ll be in the Orgy Dome once you work off that gut. It can be seriously hard to give up daytime ketamine but picture your bank account once you’re able to hold down a job for more than 3 days at a time! I’m trying to remind myself to do such visualizations, often with an eye on Burning Man 2023 (if I ride my trike more now, I’ll have an easier time then!)


But there’s another, similar dynamic at work. We don’t know what the future brings. Maybe you learn Mongolian and then you can’t fly there, due to a shutdown. On the other hand, maybe if you give up, you’ll miss out on a completely unexpected opportunity to become a National Geographic photographer living in a small hut on the banks of Uvs Lake. Burning Man is one of the greatest examples of this. Who knew that what started on Ocean Beach would become what it is today. But some people did something and then stuck with it – and, to a not-insignificant extent, changed their lives, the lives of tens of thousands of others and, well… the world.


The Man burns in 241 days!

This is the cover of the first Burning Man newsletter.

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