Saguaro Man: Is this the real life? Or is this just fantasy?

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It was an hour or so into my 38th birthday when my friends all went to bed.

Not me.

I needed one last post-midnight stroll through the utterly insane fluorescent fantasyland of Saguaro Man. It didn’t matter that the temperature had dipped below freezing and a warm sleeping bag awaited me in my tent. I knew we’d be heading back to reality the next morning and I wasn’t ready to let go.

Saguaro Man is a regional Burning Man event for Arizona and surrounding states. Four nights of total off-the-grid live-in-the-now chaos in the middle of a dusty field outside Snowflake. 

Every time I turned to a friend to talk about how crazy something was, it’d get topped an hour later.

In one moment, we watched a burlesque dancer offer, ummm, titty sprinkles to anyone – man or woman – willing to lick them off her body. The next, two men stripped to their whitey tightys, covered themselves in peanut oil, and leg wrestled while suspended from a chandelier.

For my part, I wore pasties until the snow fell, danced for hours atop a bedazzled double-decker bus, slept thru subfreezing temps alone (despite my best efforts to find a tent-mate), and almost landed in an orgy in a theme camp.

It was anything but the real world.

Once, a fellow burner asked me what I did for work. I was truly confused. Am I even supposed to answer that question here? I don’t even like talking about it back in reality!

We returned to Tempe midway through my 38th birthday. I spent the next few hours lying around the house. After four days and three nights, it was jarring to be back in the real world.

What do you mean we don’t dance to the coffee shop music? What do you mean I can’t just hug that total stranger? What do you mean I have to put on pants?

Jarring indeed.

No girl. No gig. No sense of purpose.

Even before Saguaro Man, I was having trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy.

I started this blog in spring 2013 with the tagline No girl. No gig. Just the road. After spending my 20s defining my purpose by the pursuit of partner (and family) and career, it was time for me to spend some time without goals.

Four years later, those pursuits are dead.

On the girl front, I haven’t met a legit prospect in a year now. I’ve pretty much given up on the whole idea of a life partner. And, at this point, there’s almost no way I’m having kids unless I accidentally slip one past the goalie.

Sure, I may meet someone. But I’m no longer holding my breath.

The only dick pic I’ll ever send.

On the gig front, after four years of building, my business is finally on cruise control. I love what I do and only really do it when I want to. I paid off my house in April. The lack of debt and the lack of spending makes work rather optional.

Sure, I could build more business but I like the 3-1-3 balance. Besides, I have nothing to prove to anyone including myself.

All that said, pursuit of girl and gig does provide structure and a sense of purpose. The lack of those pursuits still messes with my head a bit.

For example, my sense of date and time is totally screwed. Also, I question whether I’m applying myself enough to the future – especially around milestones like my birthday and my re-birthday.

And, of course, the fuckits happen. I only woke up at 9:30 today because I set my alarm and limited my snooze button taps to three. Hell, you should’ve seen my kitchen two hours ago.

And, look now, I’m sitting outside in my boxers past midnight on a school night typing through an existential funk. #YOLO

No girl. No gig. And no more worlds to conquer.

I just finished season 5 of Breaking Bad. Walter White has finally climbed the ladder. He’s built a massive business empire and sits on top of a literal pile of money. And, yet, he’s unsatisfied.

And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.  

(FYI, I’m not as learned as I may seem based on that line. It was spoken by Hans Gruber in Die Hard.)

Unlike Alexander the Great, I’m not weeping. But I am questioning …

Now what?

If neither girl nor gig will provide structure and purpose and keep me rooted in the real world, then what the hell am I supposed to do?

Maybe this is it. Maybe I’m doing it.

Being. Experiencing. Living.

Wear a pink apron and nipple pasties. Ride a five-foot long penis and post the pic to Facebook. Stumble into an orgy – and next time maybe stick around for a while.

What else is there to existence besides all that we touch and all that we see?

A very dear friend nearly died of a rare kind of stroke earlier this year. She’s my age with a cool husband, two beautiful young children, and a booming career.

And yet, when we met for lunch a few weeks later, she didn’t tell me to find my purpose by curing cancer or inventing a longer lasting lightbulb a la Captain John Miller.

Her advice was a bit more, ummm, primal.

“Smoke all the cigarettes. Drink all the booze. Fuck all the women.”

That certainly sounds more like the Saguaro Man world than the real world. So, which is the real life? And which is just fantasy?

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  1. Andrea Pokallus says

    Mattttttttt!!!!!!!!! Hiiiiii!!!!! I’m missing you and the real life of Saguaro! Xoxox

  2. Sounds like you’ve answered your own question when you wrote “Being, Experiencing, Living”.

    Or maybe, when we want there to be, there’s more to life than just immersion in the experience. What about asking whatever higher power/universal intelligence/concept of god you believe in (or just sit quietly and ask yourself) to SHOW YOU “what the hell you are supposed to do”? What if your life is about something bigger than your personal desires and intentions? What if your purpose lies above and beyond your wants and you ask to be shown it? Led to it? What if what you’re supposed to do with your life is not about your own agenda at all, but is far bigger than your personal narrative? What if you’re the instrument vs. the composer or musician?

    Your passions are your clue. What do you love so much you do it for free? Always have time for? Do it despite challenges or naysayers? Do that. Do a lot more of that. And keep writing about it!

  3. I agree, Keep writing about it. These are truth thoughts, enlightening in their ephemeral nature and yet holding a very defined purpose in time, How brave of you how inspiring.

  4. I am so sorry that you have wasted your life so aimlessly. I do love life and I do love the experience! But the experience is so much broader than what you’ve severely limited yourself too. You are not jumping out of planes, you’re not climbing mountains, you’re not experiencing the deepest level of fatherhood, or the intense intimacy from a mate. And no wonder you’re having trouble finding one, because your goals are not that of a permanent mate. As a woman, I would run fast away from someone like you. And I am extremely adventurous. I have jumped out of planes, I have climb those mountains, eight years of college and raised six children on a glorious ranch in the wilderness. I have traveled the world and experience how other people live, world history museums, art galleries so intense you need to be stoned to go there. I’ve started not one, not two, not three, but many different businesses. Somewhere great success and others were miserable failures but what fun I’ve had in the experience! You are missing this. I’ve raised horses, run a ranch, ridden cattle drives, camped in the wilderness, whitewater rafter class 5 rivers, married the love of my life, and worked my ass off ( which yes! Is a great experience!!!). But what I didn’t do, was sit around partying half nekked in the cold hoping for aimless sex while wondering what life was about. I’m going to live to 105. It sounds like you’ve quit living. You have my deepest condolences.

    • Grandma Mary Joe, you nailed it with that comment! You’re my hero! That’s the right way of thinking in life, taking advantage of what it gives you! If not, existence is just pointless.

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