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.
Burning Man Rhetoric and Artifice
For many, perhaps most, Burning Man is a crazy, no-holds-bar party, free-for-all, vacation from one's normal life. Which may be one of the reasons I never made the journey. However the premise and origins of the event are much more than Spring Break in the desert.
And like I've said before and what seems to be almost universal, is that Burning Man is what you make it and everyone's experience is unique. Still there is a desire to have it have meaning and philosophy and dare I say, structure. Which is in part why the 10 Principles came to be, or that would be my guess.
As soon as "principles" are put up, then the experience becomes something. Judgements both self and outer can begin to cloud the individual experience. So while well-intentioned, the mere existence of the 10 Principles can undermine their very goals.
"Gifting" may be one of the biggest examples of this. A lovely concept and one of the principles that would be good to take with you to the "default" world. And in theory gifts should be unconditional without expectation, but that is often not the case, for better and for worse.
Some gifts are obvious. Some one "gifts" you a blinking light. Some one "gifts" you a beer. Some are less so. You "gift" your help with an art project. You "gift" your performance as a fire dancer or aerial artist. But as soon as you see an act as "gifting" doesn't it take away from its spontaneity, doesn't one wonder if they're gifting enough or perhaps too much?
It tends to be human nature or rather just nature to weigh these things. It comes from when your survival might depend on how much you gave and how much you kept. Both in matters of food and energy. Of course, most of the "developed" and 'modern" world have moved far from this, and our survival rarely depends on whether we've gathered and kept enough food for the winter or lean times.
But the primal instinct remains.
I'm bringing plenty of little bits and such to share, extra food, alcohol, water, tools and equipment and toys such as hula hoops and juggling stuff. I've also volunteered to help with an art project. Then there's the "bike blender" which I was going to bring along and mix up cocktails and such. And of course, I'm always one to lend a hand.
I suppose these are my "gifts". I would prefer to think of them as my better nature.
But already, I've been asked by several people what I'm planning on gifting. Either way I'm covered and fulfilling the "Gifting" Principle.