I had heard of Burning Man when we lived in Sacramento from 2000-2002. It sounded like a gathering filled with drugs, sex, and activities that frankly made me feel uncomfortable. I really settled into my judgment and turned away from the possibilities it offered. It took me another 10 years to open my mind and heart to the experience. I now feel that Burning Man is a safe haven and place of joy and connection for me like none other.
Burning Man is based on 10 beautiful principles that create a safe space and container of integrity and heart connection with Self and Others. Two of my favorite principles are “Radical Self Expression” and “Gifting.” They are described on the burningman.org site as follows:
Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.
Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others.
I find that as I reflect back on this year, I have fully embraced my radical self-expression, not only in how I present myself but in sharing my gifts and my passion for astrology, tarot, expressive arts, and healing. These are gifts I have intentionally given to others who are willing to receive them to support all of us in these tumultuous times. I have also chosen to intentionally tithe organizations that support my values as we move through the pain of dismantling white supremacy, misogyny, and oppression. One that I began tithing this year is called “Push Black”, an advocacy organization that uses the power of narrative, especially Black History, to educate and activate subscribers to build personal power and create lasting economic and political change. I also have tried to be more generous with my resources right in my own back yard-especially those small Mom and Pop businesses, wait staff, and immigrant run businesses in my community.
One of the biggest challenges of gifting is to expect nothing in return. We all have different languages of love and receiving what someone chooses to gift us without expectation is a gift in and of itself. It is also powerful to gift when it is unexpected. Leaving a basket of home baked goodies on a neighbor’s step or giving a donation, food, toys, flowers, or a hand crafted item to someone you don’t know, a public servant, an overwhelmed medical professional or a family in need is not only sweet but very powerful. Gifting a helping hand or a kind word changes the energy of the situation and brightens many peoples’ days. Although we all know this, it is easy to let the days go by without inviting in this practice. I encourage you to commit to “random acts of kindness” in addition to your regular gift giving this season and into the new year.
Two of my gifting highlights this year revitalized me in ways I didn’t expect. One was giving an immigrant father standing on a street corner with a bucket of roses a big bill for one rose. He almost kissed me he was so appreciative. I also purchased an armload of clothes for a young single mother standing behind me at a women’s consignment shop. She was so overwhelmed by the gesture that it made me a little sad that we don’t regularly support each other. Gifting in this fashion makes me aware of our shared humanity and how we have all been deeply impacted by the stresses of the last two years.
I want to continue to gift in new ways as I step across the threshold of the new year. One of the gifts I intend to give myself is a softening of my armored, wounded heart. In opening my heart center even more, I will be able to let love flow in a more generous and unconditional manner. I will also be able to forgive more easily. This is my wish for you…May you gift yourself all the love and appreciation your sweet heart desires…and may that gift, in turn, gift others. The Season of Gifting is year round, after all...