The Playa Will Provide – A Burning Man Lesson

Getting ready for Burning Man one phrase I heard over and over was “the playa will provide.”  It’s a term that loosely covers meanings such as ‘surrender’, ‘let go’,’ if you want it enough it will show up’, and ‘you may not get what you want, but you get what you need’ (does the refrain from the Rolling Stones song start in your head now?).  I had recently learned this ‘letting go’ concept (having been one who unknowingly and fruitlessly tried controlling things beyond my control for years) and was excited to be open to the magic of the playa providing.

I could tell (and maybe sometime in the future, I will tell) stories of things mysteriously showing up for me out there.  But my being open to the Universe supplying isn’t unusual (for me).   Seeing others receive, especially when it was obvious the Universe gifted to the unexpecting, was truly a memory.

One morning I woke up early, 6:30am.  At Burning Man this is still a time when you hear the music thumping away in the distance (or going by, as art cars often did).  I made a cup of tea, put on my warm, faux zebra fur coat, and went to sit out on my camp’s front porch (actually a catwalk where the newly costumed showed their stuff off). Our camp is centrally located on the main thoroughfare  called Esplanade.  There were no camps in front of us.  Just the wide open desert filled with art installations, bike riders, people, art cars and desert sands.

It was one such person who caught my eye.  Her skin was a beautiful golden brown tone.  She didn’t have much on under her sweater, so I’m sure she attracted many with her lithe physique.  She had on a neon green wig- which to my eye looked amazingly well kept despite the desert and long night she must have had.  This early-for-her morning wanderer was struggling with two bikes.  Trying to ride one, and bring the other one back for whomever had left it behind.  Struggled for quite some time.  The bikes fell over.  She walked around.  Did that awkward and funny half ride/half walk on the bike while trying to push or tug the other one.  Finally.  She just stood over her bike, the other one ungracefully dangling next to her.  She gazed across the expanse of the playa.  Her posture telling how far she was from her camp.  Her shoulders slumped heavily as she was feeling despair at her journey ahead.

Then. Out of no-where.  Rode in this young man in a bright t-shirt, full of energy.  He zipped up to her, and you could see he was asking if she needed help.  She motioned her issues.  I could hear him direct her to move the extra bike this way, and he grabbed it by the cross bar at the handles.  I heard him say, just hold it here and ride.  She was expecting to do so, when he said where’s your camp and proceeded to ride, holding her extra bike, in that direction.   For that magic, disbelieving moment, she remained motionless. Unable to process the gift.  And then.  Quickly she scrambled and caught up to the young man and they rode off into the playa.

For me.  My morning was filled with the warmth of having witnessed the magic.  Of the playa providing. In unexpected ways, yet exactly the right way.  In witnessing that playa moment, the playa had provided me too…

Miracle of the playa, girl on a bike at Burning Man 2014

Miracle of the playa, girl on a bike at Burning Man 2014


Catching up to the gift of help. The Magic of the Playa providing. Burning Man 2014

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  1. Wayne on November 2, 2014 at 8:40 am

    I love what you wrote. You like the term The playa will provide, I use, use universe will provide. Glad to see you made it out the other side. The art work on the web site is awesome. It must have been a great experience.

    • on November 3, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      The Playa Will Provide is a term common to people who go to Burning Man. It suits many individuals and their diverse and heartfelt beliefs and disbeliefs

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