playa gifts in everyday life..

Posted by Ted on Feb 4, 2005 in Burning Man

so this was something I had started to write on Monday night.. life’s been busy lately. which is odd given how slow work has been. different priorities than LJ posting, at any rate.

so I was walking down into the Kendall T that night, and a man walking out offered me a T pass. “want a T pass? it’s for january, it’s only good for tonight.

I was stunned. how totally cool.

that is what being on the playa can be like. random friendly interactions with people you might never see again, and offering a gift. playa gifts are things we give each other to give reminders, or just to share the burden of living.

they can be ephemeral, or they can be longlasting. but in either case, they provide a memory of a time and a place. they can be a pendant one wears every day, a color cycling LED light that lasts for a few days, an omelette in exchange for some bacon, or a gin & tonic made during the heat of the day. and playa gifts exist off of the playa, like the card and match handed out at the post-yule pyre.

or apparently, an about-to-be-expired T pass.

as I sat on the train, embracing the sense of random goodwill, I put the pass in the memories pocket of my journal. then it struck me that doing so was completely against the spirit of the gift in the first place, and so I gave it to some kid as I walked out of Davis myself.

as I finally sit here on Friday, having spun fire for the first time this year tonight, I will note that burn night is a new moon this year.


An adventurer at heart, Ted Beatie is at his happiest when he’s off the beaten path. His deepest passion is sharing the world through photography and writing, found at The Pocket Explorer. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.


Feb 5, 2005 at 6:53 am

I love giving and getting gifts like that… in fact, I think all of the gifts I’ve given and gotten in recent memory have been of this nature.

I just heard “No New Tale To Tell” for the first time in a dog’s age today. Beeee-zarro!

Feb 5, 2005 at 3:46 pm

I love serendipity.

I never look a gift moment in the mouth – always always giving back when I can.

There is some divine order to the world where if you keep the cycle going, benevolence continues to flow in your direction.

I was reminded of this on my way home from the airport after Christmas. It was snowing like MAD. I had planned on walking back from Oak Grove to my apartment, but it was snowing so bad, I couldn’t get my bearings of where I was going. A woman in the neighborhood was outside shoveling snow. I asked her what street I was on – and asked her how do I get back to (where I was going). She told me I was way off direction and just gave me a ride home.


Feb 5, 2005 at 10:04 pm

Mmm. That’s so fantastic.

I’m so glad you gave the T pass away.

This sort of thing makes me smile so much.