21 Life Advice Quotes from “The Scene That Became Cities”

Have you listened to an audiobook and regretted not buying a hard copy because so many thoughts, phrases or concepts inspire you so much you want to highlight them? This happened to me while listening to The Scene That Became Cities: What Burning Man Philosophy Can Teach Us about Building Better Communities” by Caveat Magister (aka Benjamin Wachs). Fortunately, I was on long airplane rides and had the time to stop the audio, write down the quote or concept, and go back to listening. I highly recommend this book (and if you click on the Amazon link, I *may* receive affiliate compensation). In the meantime, here are the life-advice quotes that resonated with me. Maybe you’ll find some too!

Quotes from “The Scene”

Art & whimsy have the capacity to reconcile paradoxes that the analytical intellect can’t.

Sometimes the right decision is to be completely vulnerable. 

Break down your reality and create a new one. 

Draw a line in the sand. State “everything on the other side of this line is going to be different” Quote from "The Scene That Became Cities" by Caveat Magister

Transformative experience

The first element in a transformative experience, is going to a place apart. That is, taking a pilgrimage to someplace outside of your comfort zone.This is the purpose. To go somewhere, it doesn’t matter where, a place they would otherwise not be, or go. People who are doing that are, by virtue of distance from their ordinary existence, is all but forcing them to open their minds.


Another element to the transformative experience is that you have to take risks. Risks that no one will protect you from. These risks don’t have to be physical – they can be psychological risks, intellectual risks, existential risks, emotional risks. They have to be significant. More than a hard thing you do that you get a certificate for.

A safe space that allows you to take your risks and lubricate them. 

The experience is a real one, not one simulated or curated to meet the criteria to match the brochure. This isn’t a guided trip into the wilderness, but a trip you take yourself into the wilderness and experience it first hand.

The quest is as real as the outcome. Quote from "The Scene" by Caveat Magister

Side note about the author of “The Scene”

three people, outside, sitting in bright yellow wooden bench that looks like a taxi.
Caveat (far left), Cooky, and another friend on my taxi art installation

Caveat Magister, whose “default world” name is Benjamin Wachs, has been a part of the Burning Man world for over 10 years. He was part of the philosophy team for the Burning Man org, often having long, deeply meaningful and impactful debates with the founders.

Imagine how you would feel, as the result of starting your journey of adventure, that you not only meet, but get to know one of your admired authors. This can happen! I first encountered Caveat at a Burning Man Global Leadership Conference in San Francisco a few years ago. His talks then gave me much to ponder. More recently I met him at a smaller, regional event in Maryland. He is a warm, witty, wonderful human being. I would have gladly paid extra to hear him narrate his book as he has an amazing speaking voice.

More quotes

Result. Being able to connect and have authentic conversations and encounters. Joy coming from your unique inspirations. Keep asking questions for continued inspirations.Practice is the point. Not a discussion about it. 

We achieve BEing through doing. Deeply personal participation. 

The attempt to be “right” is to limit options. While the efforts to explore possibilities tends to expand options in new and unexpected directions.

The ability to express exactly how you feel and not pretend to like things you don’t care about is an important element.

“If it’s not helping you become happier and healthier and more able to handle challenges, why the hell are you doing it?”

Don’t be afraid to be wrong. Don’t be afraid to be right, either. 

It doesn’t matter what you know. It matters that you are learning. 

What matters to you? What do you want to do for its own sake? How can we help?

Unconditional passions. 

You cannot expect people to be better than they are.  Quote from "The Scene That Became Cities" by Caveat Magister

Find your own meaningful goals and make your own meaningful choices.


PS: Caveat is a prolific writer. You can find hundreds of columns he’s written for Burning Man’s journal. However, he also writes amazing stories outside of Burning Man. If you want to help support the arts (and Caveat) become a patreon! https://www.patreon.com/BenjaminWachs

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Sometimes to shift your outlook on life, you need to shift your perspective by traveling somewhere unfamiliar, or seeing familiar places in new ways.  It was while I was in another country that I realized – everywhere is someone’s backyard!  I’ve also become a big fan of traveling to one place that is wildly different each year – an event in the Nevada desert called “Burning Man”

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Your Adventure Mindset Mentor

Stacey Newman Weldon You need more fun & spontaneity in your life, and aren’t sure of next steps or the path to follow.  Let’s connect! You could choose a free 15 minute chat, various courses, or even select one-to-one coaching.

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