For a long time, some wise humans have been teaching us that delayed gratification can be a great tool to help motivate us and increase our productivity. Just like enjoying a beer after a hard day’s work, planning for and setting up camp at Blazing Swan can amplify the sense of enjoyment we get from seeing what we envisaged, and contributed to, coming to life.
While chatting to someone setting up a communal area in a neighbouring theme camp last year I realised how powerful it can be when we take ownership for and participate in creating our home at Blazing Swan. I offered some breakfast to this person who refused, saying he was really just looking forward to sitting down, knowing the camp was all set up. I totally understood how he felt and the words “Earn Your Burn” immediately came to mind.
When we are fully invested in every detail of our preparation, set up, daily maintenance and pack down we not only appreciate our own efforts we also get a real sense of gratitude for what everyone around us has done too. I guess it is a common thing for us to take things for granted unless we have been a part of making something happen and when we invest, we start to realise that there are no benefits in free lunches. It might be gruelling work at times setting up in the wind and rain, or packing down with a raging hangover, and you might even occasionally wonder why you don’t take poolside with cocktail holidays instead but the sense of satisfaction can be enormous. You could deal with any number of technical challenges throughout the journey and as many people know even the drive there and back can have us roadside with an unexpected flat tyre or broken windscreen. Nothing is a certainty and that’s what makes blazing such an adventure.
What I have noticed over the past years is that what people put in to Blazing Swan is returned to us, even if it’s not immediately. While I love partying with people, I have learned a lot about my fellow blazers by watching them put aside their personal immediacy agenda and desire to deal with adversity and respond to challenges. I like what I’ve seen. The strength of some people in setting up a theme camp, volunteering as a ranger and a greeter as well as being a paying Blazing Swan member who takes interest in the management committee while partying in between commitments has been a real source of inspiration to me. (Yes Tim, I is talking bout you). When I first started blazing I couldn’t have imagined being able to do that, but now I am working towards it myself.
Earning your Burn is an attitude that requires us to follow through. Being able to stay focussed right to the end can be challenging but it is all part of being a highly valuable community member who pulls their own weight and then sets about helping and teaching others. Once you put yourself into the mindset of earning your burn, you’re no longer a customer of Blazing Swan – you are now an investor. It’s a long haul sometimes as we pack up all of our rubbish, search for microscopic rubbish particles and make sure we leave no trace but as we drive home, we know we can look back on our week of participation, civic responsibility, self expression and communal effort and feel really proud of all of us who burned so brightly and even of those who tried and failed.
When you have done what you can to contribute, as you stand there watching the temple or the effigy burn and as you are gifted drinks, food, performances the more you will start to feel that this really is your home. You know as you receive that you have committed to giving back what you can. Sometimes we can feel intimidated by some of the big camps and their amazing gifts but when we do our part, no matter how small, we understand that this is not an external event for spectators to enjoy. We are all in it together.
Blazing Swan is created by the people – for the people and while no one does it for the thanks, I have noticed the reward is always there either in connections, transformations or even just our own personal development. Even when things go wrong, it gives us the opportunity to learn from that and to come back stronger and wiser the next day (or the next year).
As you earn your burn next year I hope you see it less as work and more as an opportunity for you to participate, co-operate, meet new crew and work with people in ways you wouldn’t have expected as well as to experience community, synchronicity and opportunity. If we are all helping each other and encouraging each other we can easily push through whatever challenges we face and come out the other side with a true sense of belonging and ownership.
Earn your Burn – its more fun than it sounds!
Photo by KRD Photography