Three Gifts for My First-Timers, Part II: Balancing the Scales of Gifting

You already know that gifting is a huge part of Burner culture.

I don't remember if I was told to bring things to give my first year, but if I was I didn't know what one would give that made any kind of sense. When I was drafting this piece, I remembered for the first time in forever that I did give things that first year, but what I gave I was given--I helped a couple of my campmates put the pins in the buttons that they'd made, and they gave me a whole handful to give away, and I did, all week long. They were great buttons, and people liked them. Ten years later, I still have two of them pinned to the Camelbak I brought that year.

But the major form of gifting on the playa isn't the little things people give you. It's the big things. It's the art installations and the theme camps and the art cars and the sound camps, all the hundreds and thousands of hours of work that make Burning Man what it is.

I urge you not to get too involved in giving your first year. For a gift to balance out energetically, it needs to be received. It needs to be received graciously.

Thousands of people have put in thousands of hours to make Burning Man into the wonderland that it is, and though you have heard stories and though you have seen pictures, you have never been before, and most of the people who've gone to such trouble to give such wonders did it because they too went out to the playa and were blown away by what they found out there. They wanted to give back.

For your first year, go out and soak it in. Find the things that delight you. The best gift you can give your first year is to balance the energy.

Open yourself to receiving that which will delight you.

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