For those of you who are not aware of Burning Man, it is an event that started back in the 80’s and got together various cross sections of humanity who wanted to hang out, go nuts and do peace love etc. The event kept going up in price and it eventually moved from Baker Beach in San Francisco to the Nevada desert. It’s signature was a huge bonfire. It lasts many days. Even Grover Norquist, the extremely conservative Washington political performer attended with a gaggle of tech entrepreneurs. Tickets that were able to be afforded by the common person now costs $390 to attend and require time and material investment of hundreds more. They are being picked up by scalpers for profit. So much for this original “feel good” hang out event. It’s been taken over by the movers and shakers and is on the death bed. Once Silicon Valley got a hold of it, it was only a matter of time.
Enter Downton Abbey which is an enormous hit in America and just finished its 5th season with another season starting in January 2016. Why have we taken so much to Downton Abbey and what could the connection be to an annual event of the great unwashed of Burning Man? Downton Abbey is a stunningly beautiful, well cast and well written drama. It delivers civility, manners, security, ritual, composure, beauty, personal discipline, good time management, efficiency and a formal behavior that can deliver a line that says “a lack of compassion is as vulgar as excessive tears”. Wish I’d said that.
We have come a long way with the personal freedoms of the Aquarian Age and its rise of the individual–hence the Burning Man phenomena of do what you love, use what you want and let it all hang out. The hoards descended. Our old Piscean Age full of gingerbread houses with Victorian Age decor, stained glasses and lingering over a sherry has been replaced by the Aquarian Age of the practical over the sentimental. The observation, however, is that we long for the sentimental, we exhausted ourselves in our race to keep up. We barely process one thing and another thing has arrived. We feel at times like Lucy and the assembly line of cakes and candies. It doesn’t stop. We tried out the Burning Man but that didn’t work as it became another forced endeavor to show our individuality only to be kidnapped by the system.
Downton Abbey is a reminder of what we long for and what we lost in our race of progress. No matter how technologically advanced we become, we still long for genuine time and its natural rhymn. We have gotten further away from nature and our stress levels are through the roof. We wear electronic bands to measure our fitness, numbers of steps and how much sleep we get. We eat on the run, at the desk or in the car. We have put ourselves into a form of bondage. We don’t know how to get out. We work at meditating and working out, we plan our kids lives so they have less time for friends and we text more than speak. No wonder Downton Abbey is such a great escape and a reminder of a time when the pace was more natural and we really did know how to modulate our voice and sing a song rather than shout a song. Glad there is another season ahead.