There seems to be this old adage associated with the Burn in how one should get as little sleep as possible in effort not to miss anything. “There is just too much to do!” I constantly hear reiterated throughout the community I adore. While I must agree that there is a phenomenally insane and wonderfully abundant amount of activities to engage in, I often have to remind myself that if I choose to take a five hour nap (god forbid!), all those opportunities will still be waiting for me when I wake up. Most often, more opportunities will present themselves after refueling my cellular level with some good old fashion REMs. We are, in many cases, more present and willing to engage with life with a few solid hours of physical and mental restoration under our utility belts.
The number one Principle (loosely speaking) at Burning Man is participation. For me, I’m much better at participating when I schedule some downtime. A few moments of downtime at the Burn can be a crucial element to keep us burners from getting ornery (not to be confused with orgy). The needed time for reflection upon what our experiences have been, whether that means with whom, where, how, why, can be transformational. By taking a step out, every cell in our body is able to be more present in participating in the collective experience. The weaker links do not go unnoticed. We all suffer (just a tad) if one burner suffers.
Often, members of the Burning Man community will be handing out items that archeologists will undoubtedly be studying down the road in an attempt to extract more details about this obscure culture (no spectators please). These items are best known as shwag. Shwag is a gift one makes, which resembles either the general concept of the Burn’s theme or more personalized to the creator’s camp or individual character. Shwag is “gifted” to other burners whom they feel a kinship toward for whatever reason (ranging from food sharing to orifice sharing). Shwag is great, we all love it, collect it, idolize it, put it on and dance around neeky with it. And that’s great! It is all great! It is also great to remember, as BARmag so tastefully reminded me in their “99 Lessons” article, lesson 72: Words are not enough. Yes, gifting shwag is one way to interpret this lesson, but in a larger sense, when we come to engage in this form of celebration, we are gifting ourselves. If you have bags under your eyes that droop down to your knees and your bodies personal storage of serotonin has been depleted to a dangerously low level (Hint: you will know this when you are around a group of people smiling, laughing and dancing and you can’t find a single thing to be happy about), warning: you need some sleep. Apart from the shwag, the art cars, the superfluous costuming that we all go above and beyond to create, it is best to remember that first and foremost, your presence is the present you are gifting. So get your sleep on!