My Journey

The Black Rock Bijou, Burning Man

This section comes at a time I’m trying to dissolve my ego. I hope it can resonate and inspire in a way which helps others. My door is always open for those wanting a conversation. It’s taken me around 4 years of attempts to write this, but I feel now the time is right.

I try not to live too much in the past, but the challenging times I have faced sit at the top of my gratitude list. They’ve been a catalyst towards growth for which I am truly thankful.

Childhood was incredibly challenging, which escalated throughout my teenage years and eventually landed me in hospital, hooked up to a steroid drip with the doctor informing me I’d have a life-long, incurable condition that would have significantly inhibited my life. Through a reduction of stress, changed mindset and reformed diet, I beat it (much to the surprise and amazement of those involved with the diagnosis – they said there wasn’t even a sign it was there in the first place).

A few years later, I had a car crash – causing many life-threatening injuries of which I fully recovered. I had two near-death experiences during this time.

In 2010, my best friend died at the age of 23. He had grown up with Muscular Dystrophy. Bertie taught me a great deal about life – to be present, enjoy the moment and that no challenge was ever to difficult to embrace with a smile (and a whole load of banter). Bertie, you inspire me every day and are a true testament to the fact we never, truly die but our memories live through the people we impact throughout our physical lives as our consciousness lives on. You are proof that our body is merely a vessel, and that death is something not to be feared, but embraced as a humbling experience where we dissolve our body’s matter back into the universe that created us, whilst our energy continues to flow infinitely.

I teamed up together with 6 other friends that year to embark on an ambitious 23 events in just 12 months. We raised £20,000 and embarked upon various challenges such as a triathlon, half marathons, hikes, a 900 mile cycle, survival weekend, kayaking challenges, sea swims and more – we’d party before these events, did virtually no training and would often turn up hungover, but the memory that was Bertie inspired us to push through each and every one. It brought us close together, and we had such a laugh doing it (and many injuries).

Through my previous experiences, I’d often jump into relationships that made me feel anxious, powerless and depressed in order to reinforce the cortisol rushes in my body I’d become addicted to. I’d read book after book in the hope I’d become a better boss at work, a leader and someone my team could depend on (I was a head of a web development team for a good 10 years). I’d read endless books by Richard Branson, Steven Covey, Paul Mckenna and more. Whilst I was making improvements, I didn’t feel it was true progress and despite having some great tools on my belt, the inner work lacked.

This all changed shortly after Bertie died. I experienced the beauty of travel. I became hooked on this desire to fly from country to country (I’ve visited around 70 now), checking into hostels and meeting inspiring people from all sorts of backgrounds, with various stories to tell. For once, my eyes were truly open to the possibilities and realities around us. This wasn’t simply travel in the traditional sense with friends or family, but alone – thriving off the environment and outside the comfort zone I’d lived in my whole life.

The biggest realisation came following a series of events with one of my best friends, Charlie. We had disliked each other at school and even had a fight on our first day! I worked in a hospital as a late teenager and I spoke with a man there, “Captain Brunyate” almost daily after my shift. I’d listen to his stories, felt inspired and became attached to his glowing persona. I don’t know what drew me in, and it saddened me when he passed. It soon transpired that this person was Charlie’s dad. Something triggered a series of events that day, and I ended up on a road trip across America, generating the most incredible memories, as we’d sing Tenacious D on the highway, spin out doughnuts in the Mustang and cannon-ball into every hot tub. Through this trip, we met a guy in a nightclub in LA which soon resulted in my first experience of Burning Man.

Charlie and I met Freddy, the organiser of the techno event we were at. We’d only conversed for about 20 minutes before heading back to our hotel. We spoke about Burning Man, and he said he could “get us in”. Nearly a year later and following a relationship breakup, I decided I wanted to go. I sent $800 for two tickets to a guy I’d known for around 30 minutes, booked the flights and simply waited (in fact, I waited several weeks and Freddy was very silent throughout this period!)

On the day of my first burn, the moment of truth had arrived. I nervously headed to Will Call to collect my tickets, replaying in my mind the words Freddy had told me “a burner would never screw another burner” and as they handed the tickets over to me, an elated feeling of pure ecstasy coursed through my veins. I was about to enter the gates of the number one item on my bucket list, and my life was about to change for the better.

Many people discuss Burning Man as a transforming experience. I was very fortunate enough to be camping with the Black Rock Bijou, a movie theatre in the “deep playa” (the alkaline desert Burning Man was situated on). I did not know it at the time, but this camp was regarded as one of the gems of Burning Man. I don’t feel I was placed there by accident. Some of the people in this camp I now highly regard as the most influential people in my life. A lot of Burning Man is in-explainable and the content you see online is beyond the experience itself. I believe this catapulted me forward on my journey into a better place, and it got better every year I went. Burning Man was proof to me that the collective consciousness is very real. It was proof that when you contribute, you are reciprocated in ways you could have never even imagined.

Several years later as my ‘journey’ continued, I became more content with life. I never felt like I had any true direction until I reconnected with an old friend, Gary Waters (a mindset coach so great that he coaches people who coach!). Gary introduced me to two books, Power vs Force and The Power of Now. Suddenly, the journey I was on made so much sense, and I live today in the moment, increasingly letting go of anxiety and the need for escapism. As a DJ at several festivals, I’d regularly party hard, indulging in after parties and beyond, living the week off the back of a hangover. I run a successful Legal Technology company which continues to grow year on year, with an incredible team but my desire to regularly party tarnished everything.

Without even realising, last year (2019) in Australia whilst sat in the botanical gardens of Melbourne, I had been meditating a lot and suddenly realised I hadn’t been drinking in a while. I’d been thriving in social environments, my business was improving and life felt amazing. Without intentionally giving it up, I had. Drinking was throwing me off the clarity I had become addicted to, and I no longer wanted to be in that state all the time. I still drink from time to time, but the binge-drinking regular I was has long gone.

Thanks to people like Gary, Eckhart Tolle, Alan Watts and the books that I read, I have developed a keen interest in mindset growth and now write articles for the Society of Computers in Law on well-being with Gary, with much bigger ideas afoot. I noticed burned-out lawyers suffering from severe depression running rife in the industry I was part of, and want to change it for the better.

I continue to grow my mindset and have opened up to the endless possibilities of this universe. I read about the spiritual side extensively, but also the science behind it – including quantum physics and the neuroscience into why we think and behave in certain ways, or why certain unexplained experiences in this world could potentially occur.

I’m currently undergoing the process of releasing my ego, something I’ve experienced the death of many times in my life yet each time has resulted in the emerging of a reformed, more rounded and holistic person. I won’t say what I’m doing, as I believe it would defeat the point, but this is one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced – something I know deep down to be one of the most important steps to take.

I’ve said it before and continue to say it, if you want to chat about anything – I will listen to you with space, time and no judgement. I can’t promise to understand or truly empathise due to the subjectivity of life, however I will not shy away from any topic, big or small. Please feel free to reach out. I approach everything in life now with pure compassion, holding deep empathy for others, no matter what kind of person you, or others think you are.

What’s next for me? Well, I’ve just built a camper van with my dad (which was a long-awaited, and much needed bonding exercise). I hope to start roaming Europe soon. Like most things in life for me now, I don’t have any cemented plan or expectations in mind – I like to go with the flow of life, and will continue to do so, seeking joy and growth from even the darkest of places.