Jan. 5, 2023

157 John Halcyon: Burning Man, Pink Heart, and Living With Your Heart Open

Our guest today is John Halcyon Styn, one of the cofounders of Pink Heart, a Burning Man theme camp. He is also a social media pioneer and author with over 20 years of experience in online storytelling through his "Hug Nation" YouTube channel and Facebook Live broadcasts. His stories have been viewed online over 40 million times and the homeless outreach organization "1st Saturdays." Currently, he is focused on daily Zoom Gratitude Circles and "The Pink Path," a coaching program that helps people live authentic and self-expressed lives. Let's dive into John's journey and learn about his insights on purpose and authenticity.

(0:49) The Surprising Origin Story of Pink Heart

(2:52) The Meaning Behind the Color Pink

(5:52) The Gift and Responsibility of Introducing New People to Burning Man

(8:55) The Unexpected Downsides of Being Bold

(12:05) How Self-Celebration Can Transform Your Life

(13:34) The Fine Line Between Self-Importance and Self-Celebration

(15:38) The Surprising Reason Why Service Makes Us Feel Better

(17:12) The Mantra that Can Revolutionize Your Volunteering Experience

(20:51) The Step-by-Step Guide to Turning Your Burning Man Idea into Reality

(23:51) Halcyon's Framework for Bringing Something New to Burning Man

(26:44) Halcyon's Personal Purpose and How He Lives It Every Day

(32:31) Balancing Deadlines and Positive Vibes while Running Pink Heart

(48:21) Finding the Sweet Spot Between Magic and Structure

(50:23) Halcyon's Controversial Opinion on Plug-and-Play Camps

(59:50) The Secret to Halcyon's Longevity in the Online Storytelling World

(63:05) Halcyon's Perspective on Transformational Experiences

(64:04) The Most Important Lessons Halcyon Has Learned After 24 Years

(69:09) Halcyon's Personal Story About Larry Harvey, Founder of Burning Man

(70:28) The Dangers of Attachment to Goals

(73:55) The Power of Group Gratitude Practice

(75:12) The Transformative Power of Community

(77:12)(107:58) The Advice Halcyon Would Give to His Younger Self on His Walkabout

(82:08) The True Gift of Being a Teacher

(90:19) The Secret to Halcyon's Creative Consistency After 1000 YouTube Clips

(98:07) The Transformative Stories That Have Stayed with Halcyon After 24 Years

(113:58) The Words of Encouragement Halcyon Has for Himself During Times of Faith Testing

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[00:00:00] ck: Today's guest is the co-founder of Pink Card Burning Man Camp and, and the Homeless Outreach organization First Saturdays.

He is a tireless evangelist of the Bernie Man, 10 principles. He has been a social media pioneer who's been storytelling online for over 20 years to his Hug Nation YouTube channel in Facebook Live broadcast where he weaves in live lessons to digital communal experiences. Um, if you are curious, we want to follow up with halcyon.

Learn more, go to hugnation.com. Please welcome John Halston.

[00:00:41] Halcyon: Thank you so much. It's such a treat to be, uh, reconnecting with you today.

[00:00:44] ck: Absolutely, my friend. So let's go right into it. What's Pink Heart about? What does Pink Heart stand for?

Well, Pink Heart is, um, the way we like to think of it is that, you know, if there is a humanitarian crisis in the [00:01:00] world, you call the Red Cross.

[00:01:02] Halcyon: If there is a crisis of the spirit or the heart, you go to Pink Heart. And so the idea of Pink Heart is that, uh, it is a, it's a Burning Man camp, but it also just a organization that tries to be a lighthouse for body, mind, and spirit. So, on ply, that means that we are bright pink beacon day and night. So if you are visibly disoriented out on the ply, you see the pink and you can reorient yourself physically if your body is out of whack. In terms of dehydration, we have ice water. See, we recalibrate your body and if you are disoriented in your spirit or your, what the heck is happening out here, or who am I or I'm alone, We have these pink couches that look out onto the ply so that you can recalibrate your spirit.

[00:01:46] ck: I love that. That is a crisp response to that question.

Um, has it always been that way since the founding?

[00:01:56] Halcyon: That was the original, uh, concept. [00:02:00] Wow. And what's what's been wonderful though, is that the way that that looked, its first year, which was 12 years ago, well, 12 years of action, you know, the, a couple of years of not being there mm-hmm. . Um, but the, the visual image of what that looked like has dramatically evolved because that, that concept of what I'm talking about, uh, has adjusted as different people.

Have joined our group felt the direction that we're heading towards of being a, connecting a lighthouse. And then they've added their talents to it, whether that be their passions in terms of food or performance or uh, body work. So the pink cart vibe within the container has taken all sorts of different ways of being executed.

[00:02:51] ck: Mm. Why pink? Because, uh, by the way, , obviously I've done research on you, so you don't just have [00:03:00] pink during Burning Man. Obviously there's pink everywhere in your own home, signs, blankets, you know, carpet, things like that. So what more than that?

[00:03:11] Halcyon: So I actually, so I've had pink

hair for over 20 years, and in fact, if you go to Walmart or Walgreens or Targets even, and you go into the hair dye, the most popular pink dye in the world is called Spla Uhhuh.

And I'm on the box cover. Oh wow. I don't use that brand, but I've been kind of, you know, in the zone of pink for a very long time. Uhhuh to me, it started on at Bernie Man as a way of really kind of challenging, uh, gender stereotypes. You know, 20 years ago, a guy in pink hair was even more dramatically different than it is now.

Mm-hmm. , it was very difficult for someone to accept a man in pink and not assume that they were gay. Mm-hmm. . And so I was intentionally trying to play with that. You know, you can't judge a book by its cover, [00:04:00] and if you can't assume who I am based on this, then how deep do you have to go to really understand who a person is?

And then Pink just started to more represent love and, and compassion and kindness, because I. Pink has all of the love connotations of red without any of the aggression that red has. Mm. So pink is just, is a very warm and loving color as well as it tends to be very whimsical color.

[00:04:26] ck: It's very accessible.

It's very like nonthreatening.

[00:04:29] Halcyon: Exactly. Like old people love pink. Little kids love pink. Mm-hmm. . It, it's one of the few bold,

[00:04:37] ck: I think insecure, insecure masculine men.

[00:04:40] Halcyon: Maybe they struggle a little . Yeah. I, I, it happens less now, but I used to get a lot of, of yelling from trucks driving by calling me gay or faggot or something like that.

And, uh, almost always from a truck, but often from a, a man driving for [00:05:00] sure. Mm mm

[00:05:02] ck: Okay. So, so there's an element of that rebel spirit right away when you chose pink, you like, ah, let me leaning to it. Let me play with that.

[00:05:11] Halcyon: Yeah. There, there's, well, there's something about, um, It's almost like a moat to be, to have a pink carrot because it invites people in that are willing to go deeper or are in, in, in, attracted to some sort of outside the norm, uh, decision making in lifestyles.

And it repels people that have already decided that, you know, you're, you're not following the rules, you know? And so I, I don't have to waste my time with people who aren't gonna give me the benefit of the doubt and aren't worth me investing my time to get to know them. But it's definitely a a, it, it's polarized.

A polarized, yes. And it, it's also, it's one of the things I think that we have responsibility for by being people who have experienced Burning Man or alternative communities or, or people who [00:06:00] have gone on outside the box, is that it's a real gift and blessing to have that awareness of what's possible.

And so when you take the opportunity, kind of, kind of, Push people's perceptions in a year round way. You're kind of forcing people to question like, is there another way? Is there, am I following rules that I don't need to, Like if somebody immediately judges me for being frivolous or not following the rules, it's an opportunity for them to go, Wait a minute.

Why, why do I think that that's wrong? You know? And I think that, that, that, that one of the huge gifts of, of Burning Man or, or things like that is that it forces you to reevaluate assumptions and rules that you follow your whole life. And once you start breaking those down, you know, that's when you get towards closer and closer to freedom.

[00:06:53] ck: I love that. I started wearing this, I love that for, for a few [00:07:00] months. Uh, it's, uh, cuz I, I follow the iowaska path, right? This is something that's near and dear to my heart and, you know, Not as much as a pink hair per se, for the, for all the, the pink path that you've been evangelizing and follow. But this is a, a friendly, accessible way for them to say, Hey, what's that?

And then if I want to get into it, I can tell 'em about the Amazon I MoCo practices, this and that, the other thing.

[00:07:27] Halcyon: So I so love that. And I think that that's, that's something that I, I think that's a really significant thing that we just said, that like, if you give some indication to people, give them some invitation to open the connection.

It, it makes the pathway so much easier to, to, to connect. You know, we are so trained to keep our heads down, not bother other people, not be a burden, not. Not risk. The fact that, you know, they might be pro [00:08:00] mask, I may be anti mask and you know, those just be safe. But when you do something, you know, whether it's peacocking, you know, or something that like, lets people go, Whoa, I love your hair.

Boom, it's on now we're like, Well, tell me about you. Tell me about you. And it's kind of that, that like hidden, not even hidden, it's like a, a, a message. Like I am willing to connect with you deeper. You just gotta ask.

[00:08:25] ck: Mm. So I mean this is now why , I want you to have on podcast, but since on this path, So, so there's, you use the word peacocking.

Peacocking implies big and bold. And let me wear a signature piece that's just stands out. And pink hair certainly stands out. Right. If I can, Where's John? Like, hey, the pink hair guy right there. Right. . So, so, so, so, you know, this is relatively small. Um, What is the, I guess the cons of leaning into this [00:09:00] boldness?

This, I'm making a statement, you know, like it or not, Here I come.

[00:09:05] Halcyon: Yeah. That's funny. I, I don't, I never use the word peacocking. I don't know why that came my head. I've heard that used in like, pick artist community. Yeah. Mm-hmm. . Um, but it is there. I I do think that the intentions behind pickup art artistry is, are problematic.

But some of the tools such as peacocking and establishing some reason to connect to people is there's, there's valid, uh, ideas behind that. Mm-hmm. , but the mentioned, the downside. I get accused of being, uh, a narcissist by people who mm-hmm. are, are wanting to kind of attack me. Mm-hmm. . And there is this cultural idea that it's wrong.

To glorify yourself or to be too self focused or to take up too much space, you know, and self important. Yeah. Mm-hmm. . Yeah, exactly. And, and I think that we, we don't even realize that we are subconsciously all [00:10:00] deputized to be enforcers of normalcy. And so we think, Say that again. Enforcers of normalcy. So let's say you're a parent and your kid starts having crazy ideas.

You in a loving way, you try to discourage them from being too weird or too out there because you know that there's pain involved. If you start to step outside the, the normal path, and so your teachers, your parents, the pe, your friends will be like, Whoa, whoa, whoa. You should stick with this job where you have a known income, you have known path.

Don't take this risk and do this thing. Don't wear these clothes, don't do this hair. That's gonna put you in a situation where you are potentially gonna be mocked or teased or not gain success in the traditional ways. And so people will sometimes lash out at me or someone who's doing something that is outside the normal rules, not even knowing that they are being enforcers of this kind of status quo.

[00:10:56] ck: Kinda like a tall poppy syndrome.

[00:10:58] Halcyon: Yeah, exactly. Yes, yes, [00:11:00] yes, yes. Yes. I just heard that. I love that. Yeah. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Yeah. And so I, my, my rebuttal when people accuse me of being a narcissist is that I will admit that I have a degree of self focus in my energies, and I have spent a lot of time working on self love.

My, my first personal website was called cocky bastard.com , and, and it was because it was an exploration of self love. And at the time I was, I had a lot of insecurity. But if you say out loud that you'd love yourself, People call you a cocky bastard. So I'm like, I'm just gonna take, take it now, claim it as as my path.

[00:11:43] ck: Kinda like that, uh, movie Eight Mile with uh, and m Yes, Yes. Where he talk, call out all the things, take away anything that anyone can say about him. So that way the opponent right. Where he wraps battle with and just has no weapons [00:12:00] anymore.

[00:12:01] Halcyon: It it very much. And so that was a lot of my early path of, I, I, I learned that if you take something that someone could use as a rock and throw at you and, and own it, like I used to be very insecure about my skin and blemishes and, but if I say I'm insecure about my skin and my blemishes and then somebody tries to hurt you with it, it's no longer a rock.

It's now part of your foundation. Mm-hmm. . And that's a very liberating thing that, that I, that I went through over a number of years. Um, and so when I say like I'm self focused, I get that, but I also believe that. In my spiritual beliefs, I believe that we are all part of this divine oneness. Mm-hmm. , but we experienced the divinity through a singular consciousness.

So I'm experiencing the oneness of the divine as this character mm-hmm. . And so it would be almost blasphemous to not celebrate this divine experience I'm having. And so I, I, [00:13:00] I reject the idea that self love, self celebration is, uh, is, is anything but a spiritual practice. Because as you start to embrace the flaws and the glory of yourself, you can see that same perfection mirrored in the flaws and triumphs of everyone else.

And so I think it helps you connect with people. So my self focus actually helps me connect to others.

[00:13:28] ck: Yeah. I mean, I really love it, but there's some nuance there, right? Cause there, in my mind, there is such a thing as being so self important that everyone else is irrelevant. And there's such a thing of, Hey, let me tell you, my insecurities in service such that you feel safe to tell me about yours, that it's okay for you to be human, right?

But so there is a line there somewhere, and I can't quite, So, so the way [00:14:00] I will articulate today, the line is, is it in service of themselves or is in in service of those that's around them. Like someone who's a quote narcissist versus, um, being in service. So I'm curious for, for you, Yeah. Healthy, and this is something that you've been thinking about a lot, obviously cocky, past to today, Hug Nation, right?

So there's been an evolution. What do you find line in the middle right now? Like what? What's the line for you?

[00:14:30] Halcyon: Yeah, it's a beautiful question and it's a beautiful kind of inquiry and almost meditation, because I am a believer in the idea of selfish service, meaning people will say, If you are altruistic because it makes you feel good, then it's not true. Altruism and I, I reject that idea, you know, if I am motivated to do good in the world because it makes me feel good, I think that's a beautiful thing. I think that they're actually, were wired in [00:15:00] the way of. In the same way that our bodies are wired, so that pleasure, we get pleasure from putting our genitals in other people because that helps us biologically procreate.

We are wired to feel good when we help others because it helps us to evolve our consciousness as as a species. So I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I, I do. You mentioned first Saturdays the, the homeless outreach that we do. Mm-hmm. and that is when we, we meet before we, we invite our clientele to come in and serve them.

I meet with all the volunteers and say, We are gathered here, not because we know how to solve homelessness, but because we know that the quickest way to make ourselves feel better is to show kindness and lift up someone else. Mm-hmm. . And so we're here. To make ourselves feel better. Mm-hmm. and to, to make our lives better at the way we do that is making other people's lives better.

So I, I think that it's a, as you say, it's nuanced. Like you, if you, you get too, you, you can't focus on [00:16:00] yourself at the expense of others. Mm-hmm. . But if you really get into it, I think you can do both. Mm-hmm. , and I think that's the way to live a life that is sustainable service is when you are, you're, you're fueling yourself while you are also helping others.

[00:16:16] ck: I love what you just said, that the keyword, sustainable service, because if I'm doing in service, but at the expense of my health, my mentality, emotionality spirituality, I may do that once in a while, but afterwards, after a little while, it gets, it's easy to get resentful and like, Oh, I don't wanna do this.

Absolutely sustainable. To my mind, it's, it's about that positive feedback loop.

[00:16:46] Halcyon: It's a, it's a very difficult thing, I think, to summon the energy to be of service in the world from a place. If you do it from a place of guilt or do it from a place of, I should, you know, [00:17:00] those wells dry up very quickly mm-hmm.

but if you can do it from a place of joy mm-hmm. , then that, that, that laughs. So one of, one of the, the kind of mantras I'm big on, like mantras, I can put on sticky notes or t-shirts or stickers. One of them is direction, not distance. Meaning, as you are of service, don't get focused on I need to stop homelessness or end homelessness or feed everybody that is in the city.

The focus is on am I heading in a direction of reducing someone's hunger. And that's a situation if you, if you're instead go, I need to fix homelessness or hunger at the end of the day, Cause this happened at first Saturdays, a lot people would volunteer, be like, We're almost outta sandwiches. And I'm like, Oh, we're always gonna run outta sandwiches.

That's the point. Yeah. If you, if you get in mentality of we gotta feed everyone every day, you end the day with this feeling of like, Ugh, we failed. Mm-hmm. . [00:18:00] But if you just go, I'm in the direction of feeding or, or helping or, or elevating someone a little bit, then every sandwich get to be win, win, win, win.

And then you end the day like, Woo, alright, let's do it again. Let's do it again. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . And so it's, I, I, I spent my. Job outta college was, uh, as at a group home working as a counselor for Emotionally Disturb Boys. And I hadn't figured this out yet. And I, after two years, I got burnt out. I left the field of psychology and counseling.

I just, it was, I couldn't do it. And it took me 20 years to figure out, oh, you can do the same actions from a different source of motivation. Mm-hmm. and, and, and find a way to tap into to that joy.

[00:18:49] ck: Mm. I love that. My, uh, my plan in this year that I, my, my primary intention going apply it this year [00:19:00] is so allegria, the English translation is only joy.

So I gave myself a Burning Man name, only joy, and I put up a, a banner on my bikes. Huge banners is only joy. And that's the thing that basically, that's my mantra. So in the middle of sandstorm, in the middle of heat, in the middle of broken bikes, , I'm like, And uh, yeah, here's funny story. So I'm like, struggling.

And then other people will see my banner and say, Hey, that doesn't look, you don't look very joyful. Like, thank you very much, .

[00:19:37] Halcyon: That's great. So, so one, one of my, another one of my mantras is crap or cone. And the idea that at every moment in your life you've got one foot in dog crap and you've got one hand holding ice cream cone.

Okay? And you've always, you've always got, you know, aches and pains. People that don't like you work to geek da. Done, done. And you've also always got laughing babies, you, great music sunsets. And the degree in which you place your [00:20:00] focus determines how much you enjoy your life. Mm-hmm. . And so at this happens at Breman all the time.

I'll be like, we're you're around camp going and somebody will yell at me from the camp, Crap cone healthy on like, Yeah. Yep. Only Joy. You're right. You're right. That's right. You're right. .

[00:20:15] ck: Exactly. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. . Yes, thank you. Yeah, seriously. Um, awesome. I I am very much in alignment with the, the lessons there.

Um, bringing us back to, uh, Pink Cards being around for long. 10 years you said? Uh, 12, I believe. 12 years. Awesome. Yeah. So, uh, you've been going to Burning Man for 20 some years, right? Uh, 22 is 2023. Uh, BlackRock City, 24 to BlackRock Desert. All right. Awesome. So, 10 years in, and you had an idea of, I wanna start a camp.

Tell us that origin story from I want to start a camp to that first year of actually implementing it, because I'm sure a lot of people [00:21:00] watching, they may have an idea just like me, like, Hey, maybe one day I'll start a camp. Tell us that story.

[00:21:08] Halcyon: Well, I, I, I'd actually been a part of Co-found in a few camps before that.

Oh, no kidding? I didn't, but each one, yeah, that country was one, which is still a camp. Um, and, uh, there was a camp we did called Lust Monkeys. After my, my first year going, my first year, I joined someone else's camp called Fray, which was based in our early website or early web community, and then co-founded Lust Monkeys and then that country.

And then, but, but each of lust monkeys in that country were ones where I was with a group of people and somebody else had the idea. And I helped to, you know, execute and, and brainstorm. Pen cart was one that was more, um, inspired by, uh, the pink vibe that I had been exploring when I was in back country.

Back Country was a camp that [00:22:00] had, did not really have a singular vision. It was more of whatever you want to bring to our. Creation. If you make it happen, you can make it happen. So I created a pink lounge as a part of back country. That was, that was a, a single pink shade structure with a couch and pink pillows and pink tapestries.

And I, I said, Let's, let's make this, all of this chaos of back country have a singular vision. Why don't we make all of it pink? And I kind of explained this idea of, of this pink vision and, and they were like, Uh, no, but why don't you go off and do this on your own? Mm. And so a few people in the camp joined me and we really put out kind of a public.

Explanation of the vibe that we wanted to create. And the, the majority of the people that joined us that first year were people that I did not know personally, but were attracted to the, the [00:23:00] description and the vibe that I was describing and some of the things that were So, so, pause real quick. You had a vision.

You, you, okay. You, you made a mini experiment and then you, uh, say, Hey, let's do this. You recruited a couple of key members from your original camp. Mm-hmm. , I'm assuming you make some kind of website or manifesto so it's public and people are then attracted to that vision and say, Hey, I want to join this camp.

Is that an yes? Accurate recap?

[00:23:27] Halcyon: I think that's pretty close. I mean, it is with my memory and the number of burns I've been to and the things I've done to my brain, it's like tough to be too clear. But I think that's, that's, yeah. I mean this is, um, yeah, so and so, so there was some specific. Ways that I, I thought I wanted this to the early people we talked to that was important to us.

And, and I think whenever you're thinking about what do I wanna bring to Black Rock City? The, the kind of question is what's missing in this city? You know? Mm-hmm. , or what, what do I wish there was [00:24:00] more of? And some of those things at the time for me was one, I felt like there was a ton of bars, but there's no place we should have water bars.

And so we, we, we had flavored waters was the first year. Now we just do, uh, we don't get so focused on flavor, just ice water. And the other thing that I, I felt was missing was places that were really focused on. Socializing, connecting, you know, late at night, I was always hungry to meet people. My favorite thing about Burning Man are the people.

Mm-hmm. . And so it would be late at night and there would, everyone would be attracted to the sound camps. But when you're at a sound camp, it's like blinking lights and the music so loud. So you're, you're like, you're like meet like, oh, they look interesting. And you're like, Hey, I really like your shirt.

And they're like, What? Yeah, your shirt. Like, what? You know, it's like mm-hmm. . So I wanted to make a place where there was enough light that you could see each other's faces, not so bright, that you like, don't look good. Mm-hmm. and, and quiet enough that you could have a conversation [00:25:00] and not have to yell or things.

So that was, that was kind of the, the, the one of the ideas that then started attracting people to it. And, Okay. Another part that I should say is that there was another event that I did starting at Back Country called The Pink Ride, which was, Kind of, I would gather, tell stories about my grandfather and turn the 10 principles, and then we'd ride around the city and say, I love you to everybody, and then go to center camp and do a big swirling hug.

And it was this super warm, heart centered experience that even though it didn't have the grandiosity of some of the sculpture or the fire or the dance parties at Bernie man, it ended up being the, the most profound event or experience that I had there. And so it's like, what, how could we take that vibe of connection that this little parade had and how could we implement that as a physical container?

And that's how we started to, to visualize the pink couches and, and the, the, the pink [00:26:00] womb like vibe of, uh, of pink heart.

[00:26:04] ck: I love that. One of the key idea that I learned from. Landmark education is, uh, this concept that we are the network of conversations that we have. So I love that you had a meaningful moment or moments in Burning Man in the socialized connection, and then you started to build your physical container around it.

Yeah. How do I bring this in from a lounge to a bigger camp? And you also do obviously digital intimacy ideas, Right? Hug Nation. And now you're just expanding that concept for

[00:26:44] Halcyon: Yes. And, and there's a, a, a running thread in all of these things is in creating a, a, a place of belonging. You know, I think there's one of the, the real gifts.

The, the Burning [00:27:00] Man community is that radical inclusion idea. Mm-hmm. , and I think the, the experience of being accepted for your truth and exactly who you are, and getting to let go of that lifelong plan of like, trying to figure out what should I do to be accepted? What do I need to do to fit in? What do I need to do to succeed?

And instead going, instead of going from outside in, what should I do to inside out who is this person? And creating a space where when you let that true thing out, the people around you are gonna celebrate and applaud and embrace. It is so fucking liberating. And it's so, it, it, it, we get so blessed. By someone giving you access to their truth.

And so all of the things that I like to work on, whether it's a digital thing or a physical space, is, is trying to establish that safe container for, for humans being authentic. [00:28:00]

[00:28:00] ck: So one of the things that's, it's now more and more clear to me why you do what you do every day. I mean, we can talk about it later, but you're really committed to this idea of creating this sense of belonging.

Yeah. Acceptance. Ev would you say that's your horizon? That's whatever you do, that's, that's what guides you?

[00:28:24] Halcyon: Yes. I, I think so. I had a a as I was thinking about meeting with you today, I was, I was, it's an interesting time because I just had a, uh, a kind of online retreat with the, my fellow. Pin cart operations team, the kind of leadership group of our camp.

And in, in this retreat, we focused on our victories as well as a lot of things that we wanted to get better at and kind of return to and values and things like that. And so I was like, Wow, I'm going to, you know, we're gonna be talk about running a theme camp, and a big part of my head right now is the things that I, [00:29:00] I wanna do better, as opposed to standing here and being like, Yes, I am awesome and I run an awesome theme camp.

Um, but one of the things that, that came up leading up to this meeting as I was meeting with people in the camp, uh, a camp mate, uh, Rod, and after this long list of things that we needed to do better, he, he said, I wanna talk to you about the Amish . I'm like, ok. He goes, So red and I, I, I, he says, he goes, People have a misperception about the Amish, They think the Amish are anti-technology, and that's not true.

They, they reject anything that. Promote separation. And they embrace things that embrace community and connection. So it's not, they're not against phones, but phones, they believe to be things that separate us. And so he's like, I think we should really focus and put our priority as a camp like the Amish is this [00:30:00] bringing us together in connection community as a camp, which is different than some of our previous priorities of we want to be a service to the city in as, as big a way as possible.

And so we are shifting, We still wanna do and execute all the things that we've always done, but not at the expense of the connection and community, uh, within our family tribe. And I think that it's, it's similar to like, you know, we're a company culture. You know, you, you can't deliver something to the world if you are not providing it on a core level to the people that you're building it with.

[00:30:38] ck: Mm. That last statement, uh, is a very insightful statement. Uh, does podcast,

[00:30:46] Halcyon: it's tough because you, you get so focused on, on the vision and you even get pride in what we do. And so that's something that, that happened a few times this year is I think we did a really good job of saying, we [00:31:00] want to create this incredible life changing experience for people.

Mm-hmm. . And because the, the, the environment was so taxing this year and the weather and things that it was hard to execute our vision. And so there were times when we were running behind and people would turn to a family member, you know, a core person that you love, and you would snap at them because mm-hmm.

they weren't working fast enough or something. Yep. It's like, Ooh, ooh, we have lost our way If we are spreading poison in our attempt to create beauty.

[00:31:36] ck: Yeah. Uh, this actually very point has been brought up, or actually is one of the key questions I ask all thinking organizers because there's this grandiose vision or plan or, you know, some, some actions, right?

Hey, we, we want to do this. This is what we are committed to provide for our camp mates, and [00:32:00] we're on a schedule, There's budget involved, right? And also there's the spirit behind it, especially for quote unquote conscious theme camps, right? You want to promote love and connection and joy. And often it's, to me, there's a tension between deliverables, you know, timeline, schedule, and then agreements.

And then also at the same time, um, The spirit behind it. So, so how do you maintain, you know, especially as a Kim lead, how do you maintain this, this insistence, this commitment, rather nine insistence commitment to the joy, positive vibes, connection, uh, but still at the same time ensuring delivery, uh, impeccability high standards and, you know, how do you do that?

How do you maintain that?

[00:32:54] Halcyon: Well, you know, as, as I said, it is something that is, you know, it, there were things we could have done [00:33:00] better and there are things that we're constantly trying to improve on. One, one is that, um, I, I, because I, I don't think you can abandon the vision because there is so much shared pride and, uh, purpose that comes when you are executing something that. Incredible. And, and life changing. I mean, we talk about at Pink Card, I mean each year we have people give us reports of how their experience at our camp change their life. Mm-hmm. , and if you have that kind of basic story, man, if you make a difference in one person's life and then you actually witness yourself making a difference in someone's life, it's like, well, I will bust my ass to make sure that we can continue to do those kind of things.

So it's, you can't lose that, but you have to at what cost. So it is one of the things that we keep going back and forth is like, well, how do we maybe push back on some of our desired things to execute, you know? Mm-hmm. , maybe we, um, and one of the [00:34:00] things that we actually are implementing this year is we're talking about time budgets.

Mm-hmm. and. . Um, in the past we somehow as a camp, end up doing everything that we're going to do, we say we're gonna do. But what always happens is when it comes to strike, there's always too much and there's a few people that are left having to do way too much. And so we're trying to, to, to think about build and strike.

And if you're not a long time or a strike is breaking down, um, and so that we don't take on projects that we haven't thought through, do we have the resources to, to, to create this and do we have the resources to, to break this down cuz it will get done. But we wanna avoid the, the kind of frequent thing that happens, which is that somebody has to do a heroic [00:35:00] amount of work to make it happen.

Mm-hmm. . And that's how you burn out the best people. So trying to, to know that there, some people are not gonna let a ball drop no matter what, but they might kill themselves in the process. So trying to,

And they will not come back next year. Yeah. And then you lose the people who, you know, have the most to offer.

So it's, it's, that's something that we're trying to work on is, is how do we not discourage people from having ideas, but also not agree to, to so much that, uh, it, it pushes us into that place where we start to have tension,

[00:35:38] ck: by the way, um, so speaking to Steve of, uh, qr, you know, they've been around for a long time and they intentionally, uh, keep their scope.

um, uh, an artificial limiter to 80 some people, 60 to 80 people versus the bigger camp, the [00:36:00] mystics, um, play a, a Alchemist. Okay. Uh, no. No. Okay. Uh, Opulent Temple. Way bigger. 250 ish. Right. A lot of people. Um, so the question, what was the question? I lost my question. , We usually are about 80 to 90 is our number useful?

Okay, perfect. So, Right, right. I remember my question. So were, are there fundamental documents, kinda like the Constitution that the Declaration of Independence, here's what we're committed to, here's the scope, here's what we want to create. So there's no scope creep, you know what I mean?

[00:36:39] Halcyon: Not really, no. We do have a, a manual that specs out, uh, the basics of, of not the basics.

It's pretty, it's pretty advanced as far as, um, the roles and. And things, but we do, we have had a little bit of problem with, with scope creep because one of the things that I think that we've [00:37:00] really enjoyed as a camp is, is recognizing that when somebody joins the camp and they get inspired by starting to understand our vibe, and they go, Ooh, it would be so cool if it had this.

Mm-hmm. . And we tend to say like, Hey, if you wanna make it happen, make it happen. But what we haven't always thought through is, even if somebody works for six months leading up to the playa to create some new structure or some new art piece, when they get on playa, they often say, Hey, I need like six people to help me build this for the next day.

Mm-hmm. . And we haven't always taken that into account in our planning. So that's, that's kind of where we're headed, is to say, Awesome. We love your idea. What kind of time, budget hours do you need? Once we get there and then say, Am I pushing back and going, Okay, you can have. , you know, 10 labor hours and you need to change your vision so that you can execute it with 10 labor hours on playa.

[00:38:00] Mm.

[00:38:01] ck: So I know you're big on mantra, so do you or your council, do you provide mantra so it's easy to remember, hey, you know, only joy Right. or things like that? So when people get a little crowdy, a little, a little snappy at each other, it's easy to help 'em remember why they're doing this.

[00:38:23] Halcyon: Yeah. We, we, we got some like signs around camp of things that, uh, in our public areas and our private areas, and like one of 'em is, uh, love more, fear less float, more steer less.

Yeah. Um, we have a kind of our, our, our, our core, the, we consider our camp to be focused on. We're sexy, sacred, silly. And cuz I think that there are camps that are in the spiritual realm that are far more sacred than we are. You know, Far more like, it's like a, um, a little more serious. And [00:39:00] what does that mean, by the way, cuz those words are toss around a lot.

What does, what does, what does sacred mean for you? What is, what do you find sacred? So sacred means that it is, uh, in line with your core values and spirituality and sense of purpose. Okay. People sometimes think sacred means serious, like, you know, oh, it's church, it's sacred. It's, it's like, I think sex can be sacred.

I think your dancing can be sacred. You know, your, your core, if your authentic laughing can be sacred. Mm-hmm. a watts, uh, would say that life is sincere, but not serious. Mm-hmm. . And I love that idea. You know, if you are, if, if it's not okay to laugh and giggle and. Dance, then it has no space in, in my spirituality.

[00:39:49] ck: Mm. I love it. Okay, so to that point, our mutual friend bra actually gave me some questions that you want to ask you. Oh, cool. [00:40:00] Give me a moment. Let me, let me bring it up. So, okay. Um, I intentionally wanted to talk to conscious in camp organizers because I am a huge student of transformation. I love to think about transformational experiences and very intentional about curating and creating retreat spaces, digital experiences, and so forth, right?

Similar to the breath work that we did right before we start. That's something that I enjoy. So here's this question. Is the significance we give to Burning Man and egoic significance. Humans strutting and fretting their time on the apply to paraphrase Shakespeare, A Self Importance Carnival or an important, an environment where people are experiencing transformation.

[00:40:52] Halcyon: Ooh, what a juicy question. . Um, so, you know, I'm sure you have heard it. Uh, there is a [00:41:00] common complaint of Burning Man that look at all of this energy that so many of these brilliant people are putting into something that is temporary. Mm-hmm. and, uh, to, to, to whatever that beautiful Shakespeare quote you just said was, But, but I'm of the belief that it is transformation does happen.

I've witnessed it in myself and many other people, and so I'm of the belief that our world has. Real problems. And I think it's Buck Mier Fuller that said, you know, we are not gonna solve problems with the same line of thinking that we created them. And so if we are going to find solutions from this dangerous place that we are in and this dangerous direction, it's going to come from some place magical, different.

And it's, I believe that it is through things like Burning Man where people are given permission to let out this [00:42:00] divine inspiration. We don't get, If you go to school and traditional, you know, education and, uh, indoctrination, we are not given permission to let out the true inspirations. We are encouraged to keep the status quo, but Burning Man if when something new starts to bubble up, we don't go, Oh, put it back.

We say, Yeah. You know, so, mm-hmm. , maybe what bubbles out is, you know, erotic puppetry. But maybe it's something about some new solar idea or some new way of using power or some new way of, you know, social interactions that leads to things that change the world in a dramatic way. So I consider Bernie Matt to be an investment in solutions that we cannot get to in the traditional ways of our culture.

[00:42:49] ck: Yeah, one of my favorite, favorite reason why I go back to Burning Man. Burning Man is very sacred to me. You know, it's a lot of people outside of, well, who's never experienced, they [00:43:00] think Burning Man is drugs and orgies. Well, there is that, that too. But that's, that's not why I, I do it. It's very sacred.

It's very spiritual. It's, it's a place where I'm free to explore aspect of who I am without self judgment or external judgment. I can just watch and adapt new ideas, and that's very, very sacred to me.

[00:43:22] Halcyon: Amen. And, and, and, and so that's kind of what I, I'm saying is that, You have to allow expression of everything, including orgies and fire and all of it.

If you're gonna allow the, the collective unconscious pipeline to, to be truly released as, as young would talk about, you can't from the mind say, Oh, that's not productive, or that's not, you know, that's to this or to that. You just be like, No, we're just gonna open it up. And it, it, it manifests in crazy ways, but some of those ways are world changing.

[00:43:59] ck: So to that, [00:44:00] bring back to that point of, um, significance, heaviness, seriousness, because what we are, uh, I'm talking to people who are, who are consciously creating those transformational containers and experiences. And when I posted that idea, I wanna talk to such camp, uh, organizers. One, uh, person basically rolled their eyes digitally and said, Oh, those are self important people.

Who is creating something? So, uh, here's the second question that, uh, are, is asking, Are we taking the idea, creating transformational experiences too seriously and doing so destroying the experience of wonder and joy of just gathering and creating?

[00:44:49] Halcyon: Hmm, that's great. I mean, I think the, the, what's wonderful, at least about, you know, the Burning Man container is [00:45:00] that each person that is creating a theme camp, they are having a different way of expressing these things.

And so if you are not called to express in the direction of that camp, if it's, if you go to a camp that it's all, they are having very sacred namaste yoga classes, and that feels a little confining to you, then it's not the way that you're gonna express yourself. Um, And I think that it's, it's the collection of so many ways of expressing yourself that makes Burning Man so powerful.

If, if we, if you, if we did put a limitation of the way it's supposed to be done, I don't think that's as effective. It's one of the reasons why I think we run into some challenges as a community when we start to put expectations of how we need to behave in social activism or political ways. You know, if there is a right way to express yourself, if there is a right way to use solar and, and not gas, if there is a right way to do things, you start to, [00:46:00] to limit the, the, the all wonder and joy that it, that manifests from a place that is way beyond, um, you know, your, your conscious mind.

I think that's, that's a, that's a, that's a real, a balance. You know, we, we wanna, I think we want the event to encourage people to, to be activists. Mm-hmm. , be very careful about the event being activist.

[00:46:26] ck: Mm-hmm. , uh, on the Noble Warrior Podcast, we talk a lot about the Dow, right? Finding the equilibrium, the harmony between the ying and the gang, the different polarities that we have.

Um, so circling back to the point that you were just making, there's the macro Burning man events, governance, and there is also the mezo, uh, of how the think Hs are being governed. So how do you find that equilibrium of, hey, space to explore, [00:47:00] to encourage new ideas and structure, uh, discipline. So then there's that, you know, finding that healthy middle.

Oh, governance wise, I,

[00:47:14] Halcyon: So this, this is I think a, an ongoing struggle of all theme camps of, and, and I think any organization, you know, at a, at a certain small number, you can be solely motivated by passion and vision. And then as numbers get larger, you have to have implementation of structures and, you know, like accountability, you know.

So yeah. Our camp, when we started, we did not have mandatory shifts of working the water bar. We just had this assumption that if there's nobody working in the water bar work the water bar, But if we are all gonna agree as a camp that we are gonna have a water bar open at [00:48:00] certain times, it, you run into this big problem of like, how much.

Structure and control do we need to put on this so that people don't feel, uh, you know, too, I don't know the answer to this question. I think this is something that, that most theme camps are working on in an ongoing basis of too much structure ends up being, uh, robbing the magic. Mm-hmm. too much dependence on magic burns out the people who are never gonna let a ball drop.

[00:48:32] ck: Yep. So, so do you have some kind of, you know, on paper, here's how we govern, here's how we make decisions, here's how we allocate budget and time. Yeah. And so forth. Or, or is it more of a let's just, you know, make it as democratic as possible? Or is it a benign dictator? Whatever hell says goes.

[00:48:56] Halcyon: It is not literal Hell, sun says, goes.

Um, [00:49:00] And my apologies is the, uh, the trashmen are having a blast outside right now. I'm not sure how loud that is for you. Very good. The, uh, we have a combination of a lot of those things. So we have a, a steering group that mm-hmm. doesn't ask for votes on everything. We do a lot of polls within the camp. We also have, uh, teams that are take on different projects.

And so team leads, if you're willing to step up, be the team lead, you get a lot of autonomy about the way you wanna do things. Um, but as a camp, we also, we, we make sure that, are we all in agreement that we wanna serve ice cream for three days? If you don't believe so, speak up now, because if we all agree we're gonna do ice cream for three full days, that's gonna mean we all need to do X amount of shifts, you know, working this way and that way.

Um, and so we try to get at least a, a consensus on what we're going to agree to do as camp, and then have some structures in place as, as far as, you know, mandatory requirements of every.

[00:49:59] ck: [00:50:00] Hmm. Okay, cool. Thank you for that. Um, what about fundraising? Cause uh, I know that you, you, you feel very passionate about, um, the concept of, you know, plug and plays and, you know, we can go into that more cuz that's a, that's a hot topic for all thinking organizers.

Actually, you know what, since we're on that note, let's, let's go into that right away. Um, where is the line between convenience and concierge, you know, providing services to camp mates, to, you know, plug and play for you?

[00:50:36] Halcyon: I think, I mean there's, some of this is art and some of this is science and some of this, like, you know, I brought my mom to plyo when she was in her seventies.

Mm-hmm. and I provided her with some pre unplugged things. I set up a. Place with air condition for her to arrive in as she arrived on the, the, the bus. Mm-hmm. . Um, I [00:51:00] had, you know, a, a bed and things that I brought in for her, and she did, however, participate in camp beforehand and help us glue gun fur to couches.

She did work our water bar. She was a participant in camp. Mm-hmm. . So, in my mind that is an example of someone who is receiving labor from their family, but also participating. And so I think it's acceptable to, to know that not everybody's gonna contribute in the same way. When it gets dangerous is when people pay their way out of their responsibilities.

And especially becomes problematic when you start to have a class system within a camp. So if you have people in the camp that, because they have more resources, Not participating in certain ways or you have people that are brought in to be paid labor. It, that's when things really start to poison the entire community.

And I'll explain why. So let's say my camp, uh, [00:52:00] I'm the chef at my camp and I bust my ass to cook for my crew. I've got a team of people who are cooking and every day as I'm exhausted and I look at my camp eating, I feel this pride of gifting. Cuz isn't that mm-hmm. , the gifting is like, I give you joy. It brings me joy.

It's the magic that fuels the city. If midweek, I visit my neighbor's camp and I talk to their chef and we're comparing our kitchens and I find out that they're getting paid 10 grand to be their chef, suddenly I'm like, What the fuck am I doing? And this feeling I had 24 hours ago of the joy of all of my labor, I feel like a chump.

Mm-hmm. . And that is a poisonous thing that starts to go through the community. And when people start to go, Oh wait, I don't have to break down strike if I can pay another 500 bucks. . Mm-hmm. , you know, and, and it starts to really erode this idea that we made this, this is ours. We're all responsible for it.

When you start to outsource things, outsource things, outsource things, which isn't to say you can't be radically self-reliant on your relationships. [00:53:00] I learned my first time I went to a, I went to a regional in Western Australia, and I realized I cannot fully prepare by myself for something on the other side of the country or the other side of the world.

So I had to build relationships that I could be radically dependent on and help have them help me acquire the things that I needed to do. So now, if so, I think it's this real balancing thing that is, in some ways it's difficult and you know it, when you see it in some ways, it's always wrong. If you've got people that you, that you are bringing in to build your camp and wait on you, you're doing it wrong.

[00:53:37] ck: Mm.

That's a strong opinion. I like it. Per very polarizing. I stand by it. Yeah. Yeah. Well, let me actually be the voice of the people who are advocating for these, uh, convenience, shall we say. Um, their perspective is, [00:54:00] um, that some people are just never gonna come to Burning Man, if not for the convenience, the features, right?

Cuz it's way asking way too much outside of their comfort zone. So if this gives them access to the magic of this container, this burning man, they will inevitably bring some of the ideas of radical collaboration, acceptance, and all these things that we talked about that we value. So if this gives them access and also to it also give access to.

Artists, um, someone else who is not as economically resourced. And so, so there is a real, uh, as you said, art of diverging, um, resources to those people who would not have otherwise been able to come to. So for them is just viable. So what I,

[00:54:55] Halcyon: I would argue that those people should go to an event like lightning in a bottle where [00:55:00] it's not structured in a way that it's run by 10 principles.

Because what makes Bernie man magic? The reason we want them to see the magic is because it has tens of thousands of people that have been inspired by this gifting experience. Mm-hmm. , my first year at Bernie man, I walked out on the open ply and I saw the scope of it all and I was, I asked my host, I'm like, Holy shit, did our ticket price go to the creation of the, to pay these artists?

And they were like, No, dude, these people have been fundraising all year for the opportunity to blow your mind. And I was like, boom. Mm-hmm. . And I've, since that day, I've been like, How can I give back to this community of that is, that has gives from that place of true gifting. If you go and you see this thing and you paid for it, it doesn't have that magic.

And that is a poisonous thing that starts to erode into people. And then people who are creating art, they're like, Why am I gonna bring it here? Why don't I bring it someplace that I can get paid? Why doesn't the artists get paid? Why? Which you should in different [00:56:00] locations there we should have these containers where that happens.

Paid, um, you know, festivals, but Burning Man should not, And even if it's smaller art and smaller camps, it should stay in this purity of, of, of a gifting, you know, whole city, not gifting. And then we bring rich people so they can see the magic we've created. No, I don't, I disagree with that. Mm. I think you can pay, you can have a lot of money, you can have convenience and still be a participant.

You can still, you know, have camp mates help you build things.

[00:56:32] ck: So, so, so here, okay, so, so this is something that I heard. What the perspective that I hear that I'm actually like, is very convincing to me of this is not advocating of their participation per se. This is not saying like, Hey, you, do you pay X dollars, then you don't need to strike.

This is saying like, Hey, reduce their workload so they're not working hours and hours, but as they're still participating, just [00:57:00] perhaps not as you know much. And then for them it's a, um, I don't have the words for it calibrated, right? So, yeah. So they're still participating. It's not fully as much, I mean,

[00:57:14] Halcyon: I, I, I think that that is, that that can work, you know?

Mm-hmm. , uh, when I hear about, you know, a Zuckerberg coming and then. Working and serving pancakes, whatever. I'm like, cool. Yeah. I I I'm in favor of that. I didn't know he came to Bernie. Man. That's cool. I think it was many years ago. Yeah. I had no idea. I think helicoptered in, I think is, was what I heard. Uh, good for him.

But I'm, I'm, I'm in favor of that. You're right. Like, I think there's a huge benefit, but I don't think if he did not serve pancakes, if he came in and was given a curated, uh, you know, tour bus, check out the zoo of these people , you know, I don't think you do access the magic in the same way. [00:58:00] I think, I think the way you get the magic is when you gift and then you go, Yeah.

The magic I want him to get is go, Holy shit, I could feel this good if I spent more of my energy gifting. Yeah. And if he doesn't get that kind of participation, you're not, all you're doing is seeing wow, there's cool art and awesome music and pretty girls and like, uh, that's. That's not, You get that elsewhere.

That's not it.

[00:58:22] ck: Yeah. Yeah. I think a huge part of, um, magic, I wish I have a better articulation is, is this, share hardship is participation. Cause once you have share hardship and one, you get the experience of, as you said, gifting, right? If you want to get more, you give more. So that's, there's that one-on-one.

Yeah. I don't know what the number is, but there, there's that relationship. And, but also too, if you want to, um, build relationship with people that you come with, you, if you care to have more connection with people, socialized connection, as you call it earlier, share hardship is a, is [00:59:00] a, is a very important factor.

[00:59:02] Halcyon: E exactly. It's that, you know, the, the, the trenches. You know, when you go through somebody, go through something with somebody, uh, it it is, it is. If, if you can pay your way out of shared struggle, you're actually. Missing out on, on a huge gift of the experience.

[00:59:25] ck: Yep. You're robbing yourself really. Yeah. If that's, if you don't participate.

Exactly. So speaking of participation, you've been doing this for 10 plus years, uh, pink card, what's are some, And you continue to do it, you know, put it, put forth the effort, the time, the heartache, the, the criticism, people protesting you, probably money. What keeps you going after all these years? Cuz this is year three for me and is was the first time, uh, [01:00:00] that I actually thought to myself, Huh, why do I come to Burning Man?

I don't know if I want to come back next year. , I, I've changed my mind since, but there was some moments where I'm like, I don't know if I want to come back next year. So 10 plus years, what keeps you coming? I'm with you year after year.

[01:00:17] Halcyon: This is the first year that I ever said out loud, I'll apply. I can't do this again.

I can't do this again. Mm-hmm. . But, but what keeps me coming back is, uh, the, the profound gifting possibilities. So sometimes people will tell me like, you know, I stopped going cause I got all I could out of Burning Man, you know? Mm-hmm. , and I'm like, Did you bring any big art or, or bring a theme camp?

Because I, I do think that if you go as a participant and you ride around and go to, you know, music venues and eat pancakes at other people's camps after a while, like, yeah, you, you, you, you get it. You've taken what you can take. But what you sh I hope you start to get is like, [01:01:00] Okay, now what can I provide to the city?

Because that's when you start to have that feeling of like, if I helped. The most incredible city that this world has ever seen, which is what I believe. I believe that Black Rock city is a, a execution of the pinnacle of human potential in, in so many different directions. And if, if you can play a role in the creation of this truly unique thing and know that you are helping make it better, that is, you know, among the most rewarding things that you can feel.

I think our world, you know, it, we struggle to find meaning and purpose. Mm-hmm. , but, but feeling looking out at Black Rock City and seeing people go, Wow, wow, wow. And go, It's better because of my efforts. That is a very deep feeling of satisfaction. Mm.

[01:01:54] ck: So in spite of all the challenges, the heartaches, the headaches, putting [01:02:00] over people's bullshit, That's keeping you going, uh, not just as a participant, buy tickets and go in, you know, came with your buddies so to speak, but actually taking on the responsibility of being a lead.

That's what keeps you going. Yeah,

[01:02:15] Halcyon: well, yes, and there's also, I mean, I kind of forgot this there cuz we had a few years off. Even though I say it, you know, I do a bunch of Burning Man tips and tricks, videos and I talk about the philosophies a lot and I try to make a newbies journey from what is this to understand the 10 principles and being a true participant, I try to make that quicker cuz I think the quicker you feel like I get this place, the quicker you can start to contribute and add to it.

And in, in my mind, change the world. But I think that if you, I lost what I was gonna say. It's important. [01:03:00] That's, I gonna say

It's if you don't, you, you don't go into an experience usually hoping that you're gonna have this hardship. We talked about you. You don't go, Oh, I hope I cry, you know, while I'm there. But on the other side of an experience that pushes you beyond your limits is when you realize I'm bigger and more than I thought I was.

So, on the other side of this year, which was my hardest in 24 years, I feel like I'm a better person and I'm a stronger person than I was, you know, two months ago. And even though while it was happening, I said I can't do it on the other side. I'm like, proud, I'm stronger. I'm better. I mean, we're talking about transformation.

How do you get transformation if you don't go through the cauldron? You know, you have to.

[01:03:55] ck: Yeah. It's, You can't buy transformation. Unfortunately. I wish I can. We [01:04:00] can't sell transformation. We can sell, you know, the epiphanies and insights and lessons. I, I fantasize about that. But ultimately, what I realized after, you know, decades of OK down transformational work, self as well as communal transformations, earned wisdom is earned.

It's not, Yeah. You can't be bought.

[01:04:22] Halcyon: Yeah. You, you can't, you can't read enough smart things and get wise, you know? Mm-hmm. , those things give you a map, so then when you're lost, you find your way faster, but you have to take the journey.

[01:04:39] ck: So what, uh, if you don't mind, if it's not too personal, what are some of the major lessons, takeaways that you got from the hardest year of Burning Men after 24 years?

[01:04:55] Halcyon: One of 'em is, I have been [01:05:00] really working on growing as a leader the last few years. Mm-hmm. , and been reading a lot of Brene Brown. Mm-hmm. and I kind of had this big epiphany that I was not as strong leader as I thought I was. Mm-hmm. , and that in the past I'd kind of leaned on kind of like charismatic leadership of getting people pumped up and excited and, and, uh, I, because I get pumped up and excited, you know, and, and it's, but what I've learned from her and others is that, you know, true leadership is when you empower others and lift them up and create more powerful leadership in, in others.

And so, I, I struggle. I have struggled with letting go and in, uh, the communication required. And this year I actually got very sick on ply and, uh, it really hit by either heat stroke or something. I could have had covid. I did tested co covid when positive, when I got to Reno, not when I was on ply, but I don't know, I was, I [01:06:00] was laid out.

I couldn't leave my bed for like 48 hours. Mm-hmm. . And so in that place I had to trust my team and say, I can't, you know, can you, And people, of course, kicked ass did way better than I could, Found solutions, did things, and, and so it, it took incredible adversity for me to, to experience these things that I knew I wanted for myself.

But I, I, I couldn't will myself to do it. I had to get spanked to, to do it. So that was a big powerful one. Another one was, you know, even though I say it all the time that, you know, the core lesson of Bernie Man is surrender. Mm-hmm. , after 24 years, a part of my brain was like, Yeah, but I know how to do this.

You know, I got this mm-hmm. . And it was like, the universe once again is like, Oh, wha. [01:07:00] And so I had to really relearn that lesson of the, the, the, the deepest lesson of Bernie Man I think is surrender and you letting go the way you think it's supposed to go, and embracing the way it went. This year, I had, I probably met 10% of the people that I normally knew at Bernie Man.

Mm-hmm. . And usually because I spend so much energy making videos about Burning Man, it's an incredibly energizing experience to meet people that have watched a video and, and I kind of focus and try to put love and into the web. And then once a year I get this like flood back of connection. And this year, because I was so laid out. And because the heat kept so many people in their camps, I just didn't have that refilling of my well. Um, and it took me number of weeks to let go of what I wanted and to really start to allow the appreciation of what I got. [01:08:00]

[01:08:00] ck: Hmm. Thanks for sharing, man. I really appreciate it. Yeah. Yeah. That, uh, finding that equilibrium, that harmony, that balanced the middle way between, uh, surrender and, shall we say intentionality, right?

There's that tension there. It's, uh, to me, life's work. So what a beautiful space that you got. Such a beautiful, another deepening of that lesson.

[01:08:26] Halcyon: Can I tell you my favorite play story along those lines? So Yeah, yeah, sure. Please. Cause I, I, I'm a big, I, I never open the who what wear guide, you know, the, the, the, the about what's happening on play, except to see if my events are there.

Okay, cool. You know, Wait, wait. And then I don't look it at all. Wait, say that again one more time. So, you know, there's the who, what wear guide of all the events at Burning. Oh, the, the booklet? Yes. The booklet, Yeah. Mm-hmm. . So, I'm a believer that I think you just wander and f stumble on the things that you're supposed to stumble on, that the, but, but I don't think there's anything [01:09:00] wrong with making a destination, putting yourself in motion, and then getting distracted by whatever calls to you.

And so, I, I, years ago, um, I was on ply the day after the burn and got to be a part of a photo shoot with Larry Harvey and, uh mm-hmm. . As we were sitting all together waiting for the photographer to get set up, this woman kind of stormed into the area. She's holding the who what wear guidebook. And she's like, Is that Larry Harvey?

Are you Larry Harvey? And he is like, Yeah. And she's like, Well, I was trying to get to this pancake breakfast that was at four o'clock and D and I walked all the way across Alya from nine 30 and F and I walked all the way across Aly and there wasn't even anybody in their camp. And he goes, You walked all the way across Alya.

Yeah. Wasn't even any that anybody there? No.[01:10:00]

You didn't see anything good along the way. And I was like, Yes. That's Bernie man. You just, just, you gotta keep your eyes open, surrender. Don't get attached to the way you think it's supposed to be. Is there anything good along the way? Fuck yeah. That's what life is. Life is all the good stuff along the way.

[01:10:18] ck: Yeah. Mm. I I also love that you say, Fuck yeah. And how many, Fuck yes. You say along the way too, , you know? Yes. Yeah.

[01:10:27] Halcyon: Yeah. It's a, it's a dangerous thing. It's a good thing to have a, a, a goal and it's a dangerous thing to get so attached to it that you don't see the things along the way.

[01:10:41] ck: Mm. I mean, to me, that's the purpose of this podcast, you know, to share stories of wonderman, all inspiration, transformation, whatever modality is Iowasca, Burning Man, obviously, and some of the modalities.

So [01:11:00] what are some of the other, since you've been, can't believe for a long time, and you've witnessed this for 24 years being Burning Man, what are some of the most memorable transformational stories? That you remember, whether it's yourself or seeing camp mates, since you are intentional about curating this, uh, um, transformational vessel call pink card.

[01:11:26] Halcyon: I'm gonna take this in a different direction because it, something you just said reminds me of this. So one of the things that I've done when, during the pandemic, when it first went into lockdown, I was actually in Costa Rica at an IO Oscar retreat when we first had this announcement of, of things were gonna go into lockdown.

And so I came out of a week of no, no, you know, internet, no nothing connecting with, you know, divine downloads. Went to go check my flight and learned that people were hoarding toilet [01:12:00] paper back home. And I'm like, What the fuck is happening? You know? And then I was thinking, Well, maybe I should just stay here.

Why would I go back and. But then I started to think that, you know, if people are gonna be stuck in their homes, they're gonna be looking for ways to connect through the internet. Mm-hmm. . And you could argue that I am one of the lead world experts in online connection. I've been leading online group hugs for 20 years.

Um, I've started a, a webcam community. I've done all sorts of, um, experiments in digital intimacy. So I realized, I'm like, you know what? I might actually, I'm not a doctor or a nurse, but I could have an essential talent or service or experience that I need to lead or lend. So I decided to come home to California and just had this kind of download that I'm gonna offer twice a day.

Gratitude circles in Zoom. Thinking that it was gonna be for a few weeks or something like that. Um, and it's now been two and a half years, and I'm leading still twice a [01:13:00] day gatherings, most of which are people who are connected through Burning Man, uh, through 10 principles, not through the Burning Man event, but through the community and 10 principles.

And we come together and spend 30 minutes, It's now three times a day. We have so many people that are coming from Europe, So we do noon, 6:00 PM and three in the morning. Mm-hmm. and, and it's related to what you're talking about, what you're, because I've learned there's something so incredible about a group gratitude practice because you start to learn from one another's lives and experiences.

Mm. Tons of research saying that a gratitude practice is profound and is one of the most scientifically proven, effective ways you can to raise your happiness. Mm-hmm. more so than, you know, a, a 25% raise in your, in your, um, earnings. Mm-hmm. . And, but what I don't think we have the research on yet is what shared and group gratitude ha uh, does to you.

Cuz when you sit down to make your own gratitude list, you're just using the lens that [01:14:00] you got in the world. But then when you hear other people and they start to share more and more of their life, you're like, Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. And so someone, they go, Oh yeah, my, my, my plumbing was out and so now I'm just so grateful that my toilets flushing.

And you're like, Oh, I have a flushing toilet . You start to just really recalibrate your, your joy as you get to witness other people's experiences and their joys and their, and their lives. And so that's, um, it's not specific to Burning Man, but very related to. The way all of these things relate and to trying to make this into a, a year long, uh, journey has been for me.

These, these gatherings of intentional sharing, of gratitude and, and, uh, life experiences.

[01:14:47] ck: I love it. So I want to double click on the group thing that you just talked about. I think the whole idea of self-help or personal development is, uh, is faulty [01:15:00] based on my own personal experience, the fastest path to transformation I have found personally.

Again, right? This is cks point of view, not the truth is, the fastest way for transformation is transformation with groups. If you find the right group of like-minded people on the same similar path, right? The other noble warriors, in my case, that's a much faster path than what I'm trying to, will my way into meditation or specific workouts or diet or whatever disciplines that I choose.

So I love the concept of group-based transformation rather than self-help like solo, right? I'm doing this by myself in a cave kind of a thing.

[01:15:46] Halcyon: I love that. And, and it goes back to what we were talking about earlier, about the, the benefit of community, whether it's Bernie man community or your juggalos or your knitting circle, or your ComicCon, having [01:16:00] community that truly embraces you for your truth.

That sense of belonging, that's where the self growth happens when you feel the safe place where your truth can come out. I think where growth happens, you can't consciously will yourself to grow. You have to allow that, that truth to be released and and communities where that happens in the most profound ways.

[01:16:24] ck: So on that note, I wanted ask you this question cuz in the beginning, let's say 20 some years ago when you first started doing these quote unquote weird social experiments, cocky bastards and all these things, you are a long ranger, right? Experimenting on your own life. And then you have cultivated people who is line who, who are aligned, who are called to live life the way that you see it.

And now you have cultivated, uh, a community of people who [01:17:00] wanted follow you to bement as an example. Then now you're scaling up, up, up. So what would you say to people who yearn. for finding like mighty people. Right. What would you say to the younger version of Helion who is still searching, who is unsure, who is basically going on this walkabout by himself, believing internally that there's such a people are gonna come to him.

What would you say to he, the younger version of him? What an awesome of yourself.

[01:17:34] Halcyon: Yeah. Awesome. Uh, thought experiment. I mean,

I, I think the one is that the, the best way to find your people is to shine your light as brightly as possible, and you will start to recognize people that are doing so and people will start to see yours. [01:18:00] Part of that, and I know I use the word cocky bastard and certain things, but I, I, you have to wrap it in so much humility.

I think that there is a, a. Tendency or temptation as you first start to recognize that the default ways of thinking are problematic. Maybe you go to Bernie, man, maybe you have an ika experience, and suddenly you have this thought of like, Oh my gosh, I know everything I and need to be a teacher, and I need to lead the way.

I'm a, you know, I need people to follow me to the truth. And as someone who has been doing my best to walk the walk for, you know, decades, I will say, Oh, that's so cute. You know, . But really you need to wrap things in humility, walk the walk, and, uh, and, and know that there is the, the, the satisfaction has to continue to come from your [01:19:00] knowledge that you are doing the best you can, following the truth of as best you can.

If you get caught up in the belief that a. I need people to follow me. I need people to listen to me. I need to have views. I need to have, you know, like I don't think that is a sustainable path, and I don't think you can keep that up and continue to come motivated from that place of truth. If you start to get caught up in like my numbers, you start to change what you create and the truth that you come out because you start to associate it with results.

People sometimes will say, you know, they'll come to me and they'll want coaching or something. They, they wanna quit their jobs and li live their passion, you know, they wanna make wire rap jewelry or something like that and mm-hmm. , I, I think it's a very, it's a, i, I don't encourage people to do that because I think that if you are trying to listen to your muse and listen to the needs of your landlord at the same time, [01:20:00] it's very difficult.

Mm-hmm. , you know, if you're a painter and you go to the, the art mar or the, you know, the outdoor, you know, whatever. Street art thing, and, and the person next to you is selling a ton of pieces because they've got Mickey Mouse in all their paintings. Mm-hmm. , you're like, Fuck man, if I just put more characters in my paintings mm-hmm.

and suddenly you're not being fueled by truth, you're being fueled by the market, by this mind stuff. And so, um, now does, maybe I'm justifying this all because I'm not as big a traditional financial success as peers that have, I've seen come and go along the way, and I've watched them become, you know, quite financially successful.

Um, so maybe, maybe, I don't know what I'm talking about for, but for me to have a, a, a, a long term sense of peace, that has been a requirement for me.

[01:20:52] ck: Hmm. So let me, let's see. What, what do we go from here? There, there's a lot I wanna say. Um, [01:21:00] I don't know. What I'm talking about is that

[01:21:03] Halcyon: I have no idea. I am, I'm, I'm learning every day.

And I think that one of the things that is important for me too, just my personal path is there are times when I feel like, Oh my God, I am nailing it. I am so, and I'll watch, like I watch a video that I, I recorded a week ago and I'm like, Who is this guy? He is, this is great. And then some days I am like, What the fuck?

I don't know. I'm so lost and clueless. I'm insecure. I have social anxiety. And so part of my path of truth has been trying to be genuine and authentic about all of it. Because if somebody watches a video of mine where I'm sounding like a cocky bastard and I sound like I love myself, and they don't know that the, that the same week I could feel like I'm a loser.

Then I've suddenly [01:22:00] made a, a wall between that person and me, and they, they, they think that there is a, uh, that we're, we're not wired the same way. And, and I think the real gift of being teacher, student and being in community is that you recognize we're all the same. Mm-hmm. , we we're all human in the best we can.

And if you can acknowledge that and know that, then suddenly it's easier to ask for help. It's easier to acknowledge that you have struggles. There's no shame in going like, I'm lost right now. And, and we need that from one another so that we can help each other in our growth. In that, in that sense of, you know, community growing that you're talking about,

[01:22:38] ck: I mean, that's one thing I really appreciate about who you are as a human, who you are as a brand, that, uh, you're very human and you're willing to really share what's going on internally.

Versus, uh, let's just say, let's see, I'm kind of hesitant to share names. Let's [01:23:00] say some spiritual gruse. They just share that, Oh, here's the life, here's the way. Then it makes me wonder, Hmm, are you like that with your wife all the time? Like, I know that's a persona and I get it. I mean, I'm a marketer, I'm a teacher, I get it.

Mm-hmm. . But, uh, to me that's leads me a little bit more distant cuz as you said earlier, cuz I'm not like that. Right. I have my ups, I have my downs. And certainly, you know, the way that you articulate yourself is very inspiring. Thank you. It's very inspiring. Yeah.

[01:23:35] Halcyon: I, I agree. And I, I think that there are some people that are wired in a way that you want the person you're listening to, to be infallible and to tell you, I know the way, you know, and that's, that's, some people need that from a teacher.

I, If you say that to me, I'm like, I, I know that you are. I don't know anybody. [01:24:00] My most respected spiritual teachers of my life are human. Mm-hmm. and sometimes loser, temper and sometimes, you know, loser way, like Ramdas is one of my favorite people who he will, you know, one of the most evolved spiritual teachers, you know, of, of, of the modern world and would frequently talk about how he would get caught up in vanity.

And, but, and by him speaking to his human experience, it made the deepest lessons and achievements of his spiritual path seem like things that we could also work on. Mm-hmm. . And I think that's so important.

[01:24:38] ck: Yeah. It, it makes that those states more accessible. Because, you know, I, I have just like, man, I'm a human, right?

I go through my ups and downs and I have questions, I have doubts, and I have hesitations. And, um, so witnessing the likes of you or Renee Brown was [01:25:00] very articulate in describing what's really going on that internal space. It's uh, it's very inspiring, really. And an immediate, it's very, very inspiring. Yeah.

[01:25:11] Halcyon: I, Bne Brown is one of my most, like, she is a, she is a treasure, you know, cause, cuz she's so, she's got so much wisdom and in the next sentence, she will share her human struggles and it doesn't take any weight away from her genius. It instead makes it so that she, her wisdom is within, you know, it's accessible and it's, it's, it's, it's something.

That you can, It's for all of us. And I think that once we recognize we're all walking each other home, as Rondos would say, uh, it it, it eases the pain and it, and it amplifies the triumphs.

[01:25:52] ck: So, Ashley, on that note real quick, cuz she did say something, I, I'm not, I'm paraphrasing. [01:26:00] Vulnerability is an earned position, right?

So you don't just blot like, let me tell you, all of my dirty laundry, so to speak. I think at least for me, when I see her sharing a vulnerable moment, it's a teaching tool. She's trying to illustrate a point that she's making. Not just like, Hey, here's some thought that I have randomly. Right? So to you, as someone who is a public persona, who's a teacher, who's a coach, who's a leader, um, what's that line for you?

Like, Hey, I am, am experiencing this human moment. Let me turn on the camera and cry in front of the camera or , you know, like, what, what's going on within your mind to say, All right, this is a moment I wanted to turn on the camera and shoot.

[01:26:50] Halcyon: I have been thinking about my struggles and experiences in the context of gratitude and lessons for a very [01:27:00] long time. So it's often the way I process a struggle is by thinking about the lessons involved with it. And because I do a daily broadcast, I, I used to do one every Monday. Now I'm doing, you know, daily broadcast.

And so I'm, I'm frequently having the opportunity to process, uh, some struggle. I mean, like, so yesterday I did a broadcast where I, I had a moment where someone gave anonymous feedback to me through, through our camp feedback form. Mm-hmm. and the first few words of it. Triggered me and I got pissed and I didn't even hear, I, I couldn't even see the problem because mm-hmm.

I, I misinterpreted the first thing they said. I, and, and so I shared that in my broadcast yesterday. Mm-hmm. , um, because I was like, Let me, let me show you what I just did. The lesson I'm getting from it, the, the caution that I need to show myself, say, Look, [01:28:00] I need to keep putting space between you. Stimulus in reaction because this is a really vivid example of how you can fail if you aren't doing that.

So, and because I, I, its, I, I have this ongoing practice of sharing, I feel like I'm in the better practice of, of finding, of connecting the dots in, in a lesson. Kinda like if you have a gratitude practice, you start to train your mind to find things to be grateful for. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. .

[01:28:28] ck: Well, I'm big on insights and lessons.

I don't know if you get a sense of that already, , but that's, that's what I'm big on. And, uh, any and all conversations with me sounds very much like this. So some of my friends, you know, feels like I'm on podcast room all the time. Like, no, that's just how I talk , you know, that's, that's, Let me actually, you know, double click on that.

Let me deconstruct that. Like, what do you mean by that? Can you say a little bit more, I'm gonna push back on this. What is the main lesson that you got from this? You know, what action are you gonna take from this conversation? That's my ck [01:29:00] famous, uh, finished, uh, question to all conversations. It drives some people crazy, but hey, this is how I live my life.

Yeah. Um, Love that. Yeah. Thank you. I, I, I felt you might appreciate that hint. So I shared it. So someone who questions your. Like your commitment, your discipline is, uh, is, is evident, is visceral. Yeah. Thousand plus clips on YouTube. Right. Every day, you know, uh, there's some kind of a life, you know, two times a day

gratitude circles. How do you keep going? Because, you know, uh, I'll, again, 140, 160 podcast episodes so far, there are days that I don't feel like posting, doing the work. Yeah. You know? Yeah. Uh, so how do you maintain this consistency? Right. Because that the [01:30:00] most people can get motivated enough to do a couple of things.

Yeah. At least for a week. But it drops up pretty quick. You did all this every day. Not to mention the 10 years of organizing camp. That's its second job altogether, I'm sure. How do you maintain this consistency and discipline? It's interesting.

[01:30:24] Halcyon: Like I, I used to have a story about myself that, uh, I couldn't commit to things and I finally realized, Oh no, I just can't commit to a female partner.

That's my problem. I can actually have a no problem committing to, uh, you know, broadcasting or, uh, certain artistic projects. Um, and I shouldn't, I, I'm being flipping. I, I, I had wonderful relationships to female partners and I've gotten better over the years and had long term relationships, but I did have this story, and then I looked back at, wait, I've been doing a monthly, a Monday broadcast for 20 years.

Like, who [01:31:00] Moly, that is, that's, that's commitment, that's dedication. Mm-hmm. . Um, and so part of it is, is I'm, it just, you know, just showing up day after day. I don't think too much about, um, like it's a, it's definitely a one day at a time thing. And I also. Um,

[01:31:19] ck: but, but the, there must be

days when you wake up like, I have covid, I'm tired.

Yeah. I didn't miss sleep enough. I'm hungry. I'm grouchy. Whatever's going on. The internal monologue, how do you get over that and continue to show up day after day?

[01:31:39] Halcyon: I should say that when I had Covid, I, I, I slept, I let myself sleep. So I did, I did take a break when I was sick. And I, I post, I think, and I, I've, I've, I've gotten to a place now where I know that people that are expecting me would rather me have, show self-care than show up.

[01:32:00] Um, but like the, the, one of the hard things is, is the Monday broadcast that I do, I usually try to provide a lesson or something and there are times when I'm depressed mm-hmm. . And so I have since learned that if I just show up, Even if I have no plan, I don't know what I'm gonna say, but I just say, Hey, I'm having a tough time today.

I'm gonna talk that through live. It ends up being very helpful for me. There's something, I don't record any videos, uh, unless it's live. So my YouTube channel is all videos that I have recorded while live, because this experience of, of having a, an energetic feedback loop, I find to be very, um, uh, it's like a flow state for me.

You know? There's, there I will watch a video that I do live and have, don't remember saying it, you know, And so I've learned that it's like, it's like going to the gym or going to therapy. Like, it's gonna help you, It's gonna help you if you do it. And so there's a lot of things [01:33:00] in my life that I, I am, I'm like a grown up pan.

I'm a grown up boy. I, I, I have a lot of freedom in my life. So if I, but if I hold myself to the things that I said I was gonna do, , I don't go into stories about I should be doing more if I know, if I'm doing the things that I said I was gonna do.

[01:33:18] ck: Back up one sentence. You lost me on that sentence one more time.

[01:33:21] Halcyon: Um, so like, I don't go to a office, you know? Mm-hmm. , I, I, I, I, all my deadlines are self-imposed. You know, I don't work with people I don't wanna work with. Mm-hmm. . Um, and so the structure in my life is based on those daily commitments that I have. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . And so it, it, it, having that structure of the things three times a day that I, I I, I tell myself I'm gonna do, gives me the freedom to have no structure in the other parts of my life.

Whereas I think if I just, I see if I let myself do anything, anytime, and I didn't do do those things, I would start to go, Whoa, you're, you're [01:34:00] getting a little loose, you know? Yeah. With, with your life,

[01:34:03] ck: that balance between freedom or full surrender flow, Right. And structure. So for you, these, the three times or two times, these, these things are forcing function to allow you the spaciousness to be free.

In other times that's what you're saying?

[01:34:20] Halcyon: Exactly.

I mean, if, if I, Cause there were times when I'll be like, Oh. I'm like, whoa, I just, I didn't make progress in my life or over the last two weeks. Mm-hmm. . And then I go, Wait, I did, you know, 14 gratitude circles. I recorded, you know, six YouTube videos. I did all of these things.

I just didn't move the ball on some new idea. Oh. And I did my homeless outreach, you know, but I didn't, I didn't hustle and build a new module for a coaching program or something like that, you know? Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . And if I didn't have the things that my, my commitments, I think my, the voice in my head would start to beat me up.

[01:34:59] ck: Mm. [01:35:00] What are some of the ways that you modulate, uh, the voice in your head?

[01:35:06] Halcyon: Ooh, I love that question. One of the things that's been super helpful for me is over time I've started to recognize that the voices in my head have different personalities, and they often have different origins. And so I've gone from 20 years ago, me didn't even know it was a voice in my head.

They thought it was me. That was my truth. Mm-hmm. . And now I know that that voice is, you know, my dad. It's my well meaning, you know, insecure adolescent self. And now I, I, I start to try to, when, when that voice pops up, I try to identify it and recognize that it is one voice in my council of voices. Mm. And the old voices I have tend to be the most vocal and the loudest mm-hmm.

But over time I've started to go. I now have, I have so much more, [01:36:00] uh, proven voices since you, you know, like you, you are so loud saying you need to get a traditional job, but I know that's not true anymore. So even though the voice pops up, I can go. I hear you. The other thing that I do is,

[01:36:14] ck: do you journal that or is it just more of an intro?

[01:36:17] Halcyon: It's usually just in my head. Yeah. Okay. Sometimes I turn, but the other thing I do is I will try to address the voice and say, I hear you. I know you're trying to help me, and how about this? I promise that we can talk again in 30 days. So tomorrow morning when you pop up again and say, you need to get a real job, I'll be like, We've, we, we've talked, you know, like, you, you can be quiet.

I see. For another 29 days. It's kind of like the, uh, getting things done. A model of organization where you put. Folder pa papers in a folder. Mm-hmm. that you promised that you're gonna get to at the end of the week. [01:37:00] And that way you, you, you get it outta your head cuz you, you've committed to dealing with it in 30 days.

And so sometimes I'll do that with the voice that's riding me. I go, we, This conversation is already scheduled for the end of the month.

[01:37:14] ck: Do you actually put in your schedule? I

[01:37:16] Halcyon: don't actually. Okay. So it's also internal. Yeah. I, I, I could be better about, um, my systems. I tend to, I tend to have like notes everywhere of things.

I just, I just keep making read, doing my pages and pages of word docs and I mean Google Docs and, and notes. Um, my organization is not so great.

[01:37:39] ck: Yeah. More the creator persona. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, there's a software called Rome Research. I can tell you more about it, which I, I love. It's, uh, the whole concept of it is, um, externalizing.

What's going on in your mind? So then your mind can be spaciousness. I love that. Um, we didn't actually address [01:38:00] the, the, the question that I I I, I asked you earlier, you know, after 10 years of running camp, um, what transformations have you witnessed? You know, are there stories that can tell us, you know, that keeps you inspired?

So at, at the moments of low points, it's not just some abstract idea of let me create more socialized connections, rather, you can think back, you know, you have a, a folder of, Okay, I help, so and so, I help, so and so I help, so and so I help. So and so to really come to light,

[01:38:33] Halcyon: there's, there's two that pop up in my mind as, as examples that I come back to often.

One is, uh, the very first year that I put dead at the camp, I, I, I, I didn't fully comprehend the nature of. Leadership and service. And, and I, I, I got a little too caught up in the idea that these were all volunteers. So I needed [01:39:00] to spend a lot of energy showing my gratitude and saying, Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

And when I was on Playa, there was a guy in our camp who was a traditional, you know, software engineer. Not a builder, not an artist. And he came up to me, I, I was like, I could not thank this guy enough. His cancer covered in burns. He'd been doing all this welding for us. He'd learned all these skills. And, and he came up to me with tears in his eyes, and he's like, Thank you for letting me be a part of this.

Hmm. And I was like, I like. We think, me and I had this whole head switch of like, most of us are starving for an opportunity to do things that matter. Mm. And so giving people the opportunity to put their energies towards things that matter, um, that's, that's the gift, not the gratitude or the, you know, it's good to give people gratitude and appreciation, [01:40:00] but providing opportunities for people to sh to shine their gifts and grow and be of service is, uh, is the value in and of itself.

So that's one thought of just witnessing people get to express their gifts and how powerful that is. Um, and I, I won't say his name just because I haven't talked to him in a while. I don't know if you'd be okay with it. The other specific example, there's seminar Camp named Cookie who I know Cookie. You know Cookie?

Yeah. Yeah. He's been on this podcast. Oh, awesome. So he, uh, he. I feel like, and I hope he would admit this, like he's a different person than when he first came to apply into Pink Card. His, he is now so dedicated to gifting and to being a service and to, uh, the, the, the energy that he puts into, um, making other people's lives better is so [01:41:00] inspiring.

And I feel like being a part of Pink Heart and witnessing his early experiences there, uh, that I feel like, uh, anytime I think like, is it worth it doing to Bernie anymore? I go, If, if more people can go through Pink Cart and go through a transformation like that, the world will be a better place.

[01:41:23] ck: Mm. So speaking of that, actually, thank you for sharing that, by the way.

And shout out to, to anthony slash Cookie. Yeah. Good man. , uh, you've been on this journey of scaling this whole concept of connection for 20 some years, right? Mm-hmm. from the Daily Hugs to Hug nations to, uh, since Covid started doing these digital experiences, what's the, what's the dream? What's the, what's the horizon?

What's the vision?

[01:42:00] That's, I wish I, And by the way, by the way, let me actually say one more thing. I don't know if you know this guy Bolaji. He is a crypto guy. Very, he accomplished entrepreneur. He wrote this book, well, he started with this idea how to start a nation, and then he then wrote a book called The Network State, How to Start a New Country.

Hmm. And he posed an interesting idea. So I say, Hey, back in the day before these internet infrastructure, To start a new country, you need to basically overtake someone else's land. You know, you need to have a lot of, you know, political influence, political capital, uh, not to mention real capital and all these things, but that's very expensive.

Cause wars are very expensive. Mm-hmm. . But with the internet infrastructure, you now actually have a possibility to create new states that's virtual. And since [01:43:00] you aptly name your community, Hug Nation . So I'm curious to know your perspective of, Okay, so I've been doing this for the last 20 years. Now.

There are infrastructure capabilities to create this virtual, uh, nation for real. Na a virtual country for real. That's the sort of the background of why I'm asking, Like, what's the vision, what's the dream?

[01:43:29] Halcyon: I wish I had the great answer. It's a very, very loaded question, but yeah, free, free to take it however you want. I, I think it's, it's a question that I probably should be spending a little bit of energy with right now. You know, I, I think I'm a little scared of thinking about a large vision because, uh, I have peace of mind if I just show up day after day and do what feels right and is it integrity?

And I feel a little bit of fear [01:44:00] of saying, I'm gonna build this big community, or I'm gonna do this grand thing. I do feel like over time, um, by trying to show kindness, Authenticity on a daily basis for decades, that there have been this ripple effect of touching many, many people. But I, there's some fear in my mind of committing to having, you know, a larger scale, uh, impact or, uh, you know, I have a coaching program, but I work with very few people.

Um, so I, that's a, I'll say that I, I will chew on that and I will see if it's fear that's in the way or if it's, uh, if I'm, if I'm genuinely being in integrity in this, in, in my lack of a large scale vision. I don't know.

[01:44:46] ck: Okay. Thank you for your honesty. Um, I know that's the reason I'm asking that question because you obviously, if anyone has any questions about your commitment, just you can just point to your YouTube [01:45:00] channel.

Yeah. A thousand plus clips, right. Daily. Lives, you know, shut the fuck up, right? Like, you know, I am committed to my path. You're walking the path, right? So, so, so, but where is the path leading towards? So what I'm hearing is forget about the large vision per se. It's more about just showing up day after day and surrender to whatever, um, uh, leads you, And you didn't say this, but you say this, uh, in some other, um, podcast, you said that when you first started the Covid experience, you were not, uh, so confident about the purity of this vessel, but it was still the community that asked you to step up.

Anyway, I'm kind of paraphrasing what you said. Yeah. That, that was

[01:45:55] Halcyon: So when I. [01:46:00] In 2004 or five, I asked my grandfather, who was a Baptist retired minister to co-host the Hugg Nation broadcast with me. And he is a incredible gratitude filled zend out Doist Baptist, just incredible guy. And, and yeah, when, when he passed on, I wasn't sure if it would be right for me to keep going because I didn't feel the same kind of purity in, in, in my path.

You know, I'm, I'm a, I enjoy the, uh, getting dirty on ply in many ways. And so I, I didn't, this is before I kinda had that feeling of like sexy, silly, sacred is a perfectly, can be a profound spiritual practice. I felt like because I was silly and sexy and that it, i, it robbed me of the right of also being, uh, sacred and profound.

And I, I don't believe that anymore. Um, But I also, I, I mentioned earlier that idea of love, [01:47:00] more fear, less float, more steer less, and that has always led me to beautiful places. Um, and so I think my next chapter is about continuing to follow that floating, but also trying to tune into maybe, maybe some bigger picture goals, maybe a, a larger nation state.

And, uh, seeing if there's a, a path of the current can take me in that direction and, uh, and then paddle with the current a little bit.

[01:47:33] ck: Awesome. Uh, I have two final questions for you, Hal. First question is scope is to the younger hem who's being on this path or starting on this path of becoming more public, becoming more fearless, becoming more courageous in.

What was that word that used shine his life more? What would you say to that [01:48:00] younger version of Heian knowing why, you know, today?

[01:48:06] Halcyon: I mean, it's hard for me to, it's hard for me to really comprehend, um, the, the rewards that I've, I've gotten from this path. Um, from hearing people's the way that things I've said, or things that I've done, or interactions that we've had, or the way that it's touched their, their journey and put them in a direction of, of more authenticity and making the world a more beautiful place.

So if I could give a little a, a sense of the magnitude of. Of possible impact to my scared younger self. Like I actually have a, a private blog that I keep where I, when I get a, a, a comment or a, [01:49:00] a email from somebody that just makes, tells me something, that just makes me go, Oh, what I do matters. You know, I will copy and paste it into this private blog so that when I have my moments of doubt and, and what the fuck am I doing, I can go glance through it and be like, Oh, right, I forgot.

Sometimes I'm awesome. And so if I could maybe like print out a few pages of that blog and give it to my younger self and say, You're gonna have tons of time when you think that it doesn't matter and you've lost your way and you've made some huge mistakes. But look, here's, here's a few people that will remind you.

And here, listen to me. 51 year old you that it's, it matters. So hold, hold the line.

[01:49:47] ck: Hmm. This is a sign note. It's not my question, but I can tell you already that what you do matters. Cuz even this brief interaction you have, um, [01:50:00] really inspire me to stay disciplined versus just all flow and trust the universe.

Like, hey, there's the daily discipline, Right. You know, the thousand clips, uh, on YouTube. So that's very beautiful. All right. Thank you. So second question. Second question. So to the, the, the, the younger Heian, again, who is now thinking about creating his own camp mm-hmm. , what would you say to that younger version of you knowing what you know today?

[01:50:32] Halcyon: Run away, join another camp.

very valid. Valid, valid. No, I mean the, the, I. So BlackRock City has gone through changes over the years and mm-hmm. , but none so great that it has robbed it of its value and none so dramatic. That has made me diminish my belief that it is worth [01:51:00] working for and fighting for. You know, I am still a true believer in the possibilities of the 10 principles.

So I think my younger self, uh, I would encourage them. And in fact, there was a time, like, you know, years ago when I have no tattoos except for permanent eyeliner. Um,

[01:51:20] ck: but Oh, really? That's permanent. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And wonder, your eyes are so well,

[01:51:24] Halcyon: I look so pretty. Yeah, yeah, yeah. All the time. But I, there was a time in my life and I'm actually still at that time, like, I, I don't wanna get a a, a, a burning man tattoo because, you know, things change.

You know, something that means one thing symbolically. It one year can mean something very different 30 years later. And I think that I would, I would tell my younger self that, you know, 20 years in the future, this is still by far the most important thing in your life. And so if you are [01:52:00] scared of committing or scared of, of putting a line in the sand and say, we are gonna build this, um, or investing your money or your time, that, um, none of those investments have, have I regretted.

Um, and I think that would be, I, I would love to, to be be told that as a younger me so it could save me a little bit of, of maybe doubt along the way.

[01:52:27] ck: Let me double click on that real quick. It's a new path, right? It's not a wild, long path, right? It's not the path of, I don't know, become an investment banker or accountant or doctor.

Mm-hmm. , you know, all these things. It's, it's, it's, it's a brand new path of being a, what do you call yourself? A social media pioneer, right? In many ways you are, you're evangelizing, Burning Man, you know, it's not even your own organization, so to speak. So, um, so this, this having more assurance would [01:53:00] help boost that faith that it's all gonna turn out.

However, let me ask you this very nuanced question. How do you then, let's see, how do I say this? Faith only matters when, when it's being tested. Era when, when you're facing, staring into the bi as, uh, El say. So, so during those moments where you're staring into the bi. What are some of the ways for you to either deepen your faith or reclaim your faith in this path that you've walked all these years?

[01:53:43] Halcyon: What comes to mind as you say that one is, is that, um, I have to continually fight the temptation to measure things based on the external world. Like I am not of the mind that [01:54:00] our, our objective as humans is to fix the world or ridt of darkness. I believe that our, the world is like a gymnasium with a bunch of heavy weight and all of these struggles and challenge and darkness are ways that we.

Work with it to get stronger, but you're never gonna lift, go to the gym and go, Okay, I gotta lift all this weight and put it up high. Now I'm done. That's not the point. The point is to work with the struggles of the world. Um, and so if I remember that, then I know that my victory or my joy or my peace isn't from fixing anything.

It's from moving the dial towards kindness and authenticity and truth. And, and if I forget that is, uh, is usually when I suffer. I'm not sure if that answered [01:55:00] the question. It does. Okay. It does.

[01:55:04] ck: Well, is there a last note that you would like to say to the younger cks and the Johns Listen.

[01:55:11] Halcyon: Uh, yeah, I, I say that like I generally end almost every broadcast by looking in the camera and saying, I love you.

And sometimes people, sometimes it's the only time people hear it and it means a lot. And some people feel like, How could you say you love me? You don't know me. And I would say that I have spent a lot of time over the last 20 plus years, um, trying to open my heart and trying to love myself and trying to recognize that the flawed human that I am is a beautiful thing.

And in that process, I've been able to see that all humans are flawed and beautiful. And I know even though we've never met you, you have met. You have met. But if you're listening to this and we haven't met yet, um, I know that you are human in the [01:56:00] best you can and you are trying to make yourself feel safe.

You're trying to find purpose, You're trying to protect those that you love. And. Based on your experiences and your upbringing, you might act in very different ways, and you might even act in ways that are at odds with mine, and you might enact in ways that cause me str suffering. Um, but if we can pull back to our core humanness, we're all so alike that I can feel compassionate and love for everyone.

And so if you ever are confused or have doubt or um, self-judgment, know that we all feel that. And, um, and I love you.

[01:56:47] ck: Hmm. Well, with that, John Halian, uh, let me just take a few moments to really acknowledge you, um, from one flaw human to another. I love you . Uh, thank you [01:57:00] for just how authentic you are in living your life.

Walking the path quietly. Uh, With lots of discipline, you know? I mean, honestly, I can watch one video of you being quirky with your dancing, whatever. But if I just go to your YouTube channel, that's your life, right? That, that's your, that's your, that's your throughput , you know, that's, that's your way of making a difference to the, to the internet.

And you built a beautiful, um, virtual community Hug nation, uh, physical community, pink heart, together with your other co-founders, right? And we dug, we, we dug in deeply about the operating philosophy of your life as well. Intertwine in the pink heart operating philosophy. And what possibility can one person create along with community

to bring, uh, the socialized [01:58:00] connection together to create more opportunities, more containers for these connections to happen. So thank you for the work that you do. It's a beautiful, beautiful experience that I have with you. Thank you so much for being here on the Warrior.

[01:58:14] Halcyon: Such a treat, a, a real pleasure to have a conversation with you.

I've been looking forward to it, and it's been a, a, a real pleasure. Thank you. Awesome.


John "Halcyon" Styn

Love Ambassador

John Halcyon Styn is a social media pioneer who has been storytelling online for over 20 years through his “Hug Nation” YouTube channel and Facebook Live broadcasts. He is the author of “Love More. Fear less. Float more. Steer less.” and “Protagonist.” His stories have been viewed online over 40 million times. He is the co-founder of the Pink Heart Burning Man camp and the homeless outreach organization “1st Saturdays.” His current passions are daily Zoom Gratitude Circles and “The Pink Path,” a coaching program that helps people live authentic and radically self-expressed lives.