Once upon a time, some 340 days ago, a Reno grocery store employee received a very special Burning Man gift. It was a cooler full of poop. Some thoughtful Burner had left this doo-doo cooler at a trash drop-off point.
“Wow!” said the grocery store employee (I am assuming this is what he or she may have said).
“Wow! This is the most memorable gift a Burner could possibly leave for me. I will remember this gift, and it will help me to understand Burning Man culture so that I can pass this lesson on to my friends.”
Many Burning Mans ago Chicken John walked around the desert and pounded some free-standing water spigots into the ground. They weren’t attached to anything, of course: it’s a dry lake bed, and there aren’t utility pipes for miles.
But people still walked up to them, held their canteens underneath, and turned the spigot … expecting something to happen. They stared at it for 10, 20 seconds, waiting, wondering “Why isn’t the water coming?” before it finally dawned on them: “oh yeah, no water. Anywhere.” I’ve seen video. It’s hilarious.
But – true fact – people need water to survive. And there isn’t any at Burning Man … unless you bring it!
But people often wonder: “how much water should I bring?”
Fortunately we have the answer right here in our latest Public Service Announcement from Caveat and BMIR!
Caveat is the Volunteer Coordinator for Media Mecca at Burning Man is Burning Man’s leading interpreter of Sea Chanties. His opinions are in no way statements of the Burning Man organization. Contact him at Caveat (at) Burningman.com
There is no one as enthusiastic as a second-time Burner. After our first time, we can’t wait to go back and we can’t stop talking about the playa. Our restlessness is palpable. Second-year Burners have been stoking that fire for 12 months, fresh off a transformative experience. We want to do it all over again, only with better gear and more art and more friends. We understand the lay of the land and the porta-potties and we’re ready to pitch in.
All the costumes and camping supplies and decent food — the things I needed that first year when I didn’t even have a chair — don’t add up to the exquisite mind-blowing first Burn. Burning Man changed my life. My experience as a virgin Burner was typical: my mind was blown wide, wide, wide open. I was grateful, gracious and disbelieving. It’s all I could think about when I returned to the default world. I ached to be back on the playa. I came back to BRC ready to do it all over again and my expectations fell flat. Where was the lightning bolt to my psyche?
Subsequent Burns are more about reigniting that original flame, more life-affirming than life-altering. Some years it’s a big fire; other years it’s a lot of dust. The months spent daydreaming of electric moonscapes and deep playa kismet and … well, I still do that. I want to be closer to that wide-eyed wonder. Could y’all bottle that for some of us old-timers? Maybe start a theme camp that serves some of your fresh-Burner juju?
After 12 Burns I don’t expect the catharsis and epiphany I experienced walking around Black Rock City in 1998, colliding with splendor at every turn. A few years in I accepted the ebb and flow. Don’t get me wrong — I am excited for BM2013. I’m looking forward to driving with a friend and camping with a group of women. Mixing it up is a good way to get a fresh perspective on the event.
Taking time off from the playa is one of the best things for reigniting the flame. My return to the playa was resplendent and relaxing and hilarious and serious and sad and wonderful. I still get teary driving into Black Rock City; the first glimpses of the event on the horizon feel like coming home. I cry when I take my annual solo bike ride along the trash fence and stare back into the city. I may be a realist but I’m still a softie.
I’m not trying to bum you out. Burning Man is the greatest. Your second Burn will be splendid; so will your tenth. But after you know what to expect, maybe things start to seem a little less grand. Your mind gets occupied by other things. You consider using that vacation time elsewhere. Everything evolves: Burning Man, Burners, anticipation and expectation.
This is a re-post of my most frequently shared Playa video. Plus a new “10 Commandments of Gifting” at the bottom.
As people begin to check-off their pre-burn packing lists, many are puzzled by the same question: “What should I bring as gifts?”
But Gifting is about much more than brown paper packages tied up with strings. In fact, Gifting is one of my favorite things…
The (non-official) 10 Commandments of Gifting:
1) Gifting is a physical demonstration of Love.
“I want you to have this because it makes me happy to see you happy.”
2) Gifting dissolves separation.
When you Gift, you are breaking down the wall between me and you/ us and them. If you EXHCHANGE, then you are re-enforcing the separation. But to GIFT is to say, You and I are one.
When I understand the interconnectedness of all things, then Gifting helps to show that I cannot ever lose anything. If I gift you something, I am only transferring it from one part of the One to another. There is no loss and no gain. We are just shifting possession to an aspect of the whole that will appreciate it more. Think “Osmosis of Material Goods.”
3) A Gift can be ANYTHING.
It can be a song, an idea, a massage, a sculpture, a compliment, a sticker, a shoulder to lean on, a wet-nap, a walk home, or a hug.
4) Gifting eliminates hoarding and creates abundance.
When we allow ”stuff” to flow more fluidly between one another, ALL stuff becomes an available resource to ALL people. Gifting breaks down attachment.
5) Gifting helps dissolve the Ego.
When we become less connected with owning and having stuff (even our skills and talents) then we identify less with our physical selves. We take less credit for things and less blame. Who we are becomes more about our divine seed than our story or physical form.
6) Gifting breaks the commerce paradigm.
Traditional commerce = an even exchange. You get one, I lose one. You pay one, I earn one. Sum total = Zero (0). But in a gift, You receive the gift (+1) AND I feel good for giving the gift (+1). Sum total = Two (2).
7) Gifting releases the flow of energy between people.
We are hardly even aware of the energetic walls that we maintain to hold on to our stuff and keep out yours. The more we gift, the less those barriers hold.
8) Gifting opens up the world.
Making a habit of gifting allows you to see every interaction as an opportunity for increased Joy – even if there is no benefit to you specifically. If I have something (a bite of food, a word of support, a warm hat) that can make your life better, then I can make MY life better by helping YOU. That means there are billions of opportunities in every moment to make the planet more joyful. On the other hand, if the only way to increase joy is by helping out my specific individual self, then the opportunities are few.
9) Gifting is never required.
A feeling of obligation cancels out the Gift. (This type of “Barter” exchange is often confused as gifting.) But if you expect anything in return – even the elimination of guilt – then the magic of Gifting has been compromised.
10) EVERY interaction can be seen as an act of Gifting.
These views are solely the views of Halcyon and do not represent the opinions of The Burning Man Organization.
[Kristy Evans is Burning Man’s Gate, Perimeter & Exodus Manager … she knows whereof she speaks, so listen up.]
The most common question I received after the 2012 event: what did you guys do to make Exodus so much better? The short answer is that YOU were a major part of the solution. You spread out your departures over enough days and times, and did it in a fairly balanced way. That is the most effective solution to reducing Exodus wait times. Let’s do that again, shall we?
Now, here’s the thing … we can’t get complacent! Because if everybody thinks, “Well 2012 was a breeze, clearly the problem is solved and I can leave anytime!”, we’ll find ourselves right back in long Exodus lines again. What we need to do is make a plan for Exodus. All of us. (more…)
Caveat is the Volunteer Coordinator for Media Mecca at Burning Man annoys bad people on behalf of organized crime. His opinions are in no way statements of the Burning Man organization. Contact him at Caveat (at) Burningman.com