The question is similar to the one that you ask yourself in when you’re on summer vacation, or have just graduated college, or have moved to a new city, or retired. You figure out something to do that’s meaningful … and you do it. Or you get stuck and become miserable.
That search for meaning is every bit as important at Burning Man as it is anywhere else – and like the search for meaning in daily life, it doesn’t stop just because you’ve found one answer.
This is what makes Burning Man different from a trip to Disney World, where the clear answer is “ride on the rides, eat sugar-on-a-stick, and point at white people.” Burning Man has all these things, but it has so many more choices because Disney World is a closed system: the Disney Corporation has clearly delineated what are meaningful choices and what are not.
This is what makes Burning Man different from a music festival, where the obvious answer is “Bounce from stage to stage, listen to the acts, visit the merch area, and hit on white people.” All of these are options at Burning Man (except the merch table), but it has so many more choices because a music festival is a closed system: the organizers have established what is supposed to be meaningful and what is not.
Burning Man is an open system. You can set up a Thomas Jefferson themed party camp. You can run a hotel. My first year at Burning Man I carried around a book of original fairy tales and read them to people I met. Last year I started a war.
Burning Man does not come with a set of instructions, it comes with existential choices: as many existential choices as you have in the rest of you life … and maybe more.