Why "purple feather"?

purple feather: 1: n, an item which means little to the average person, but means a great deal to a specific person. 2: v, "to give a purple feather", to give someone something that means a great deal only to them.

I had a rather large project for Burning Man 1999.
It took just about everything out of me.
While assembling it, I noticed that a little purple feather had stuck in some duct tape.
Seeing that feather -- fluffing happily in the wind -- made me very happy.
A friend of mine was taking pictures, and I showed him the feather.
"I mean, just look at this feather!" I said.
He understood too.

Later that week, I was at my lowest point and terribly depressed.
The same friend took me out on the playa to take pictures of firedancers to cheer me up.
As soon as we left camp, I collapsed into tears.
He comforted me.
Once I finally started to calm down, he handed me a plastic baggie.

"Oh!" I said, "this must be the empty baggie that held your hair!"
(He had cut his 11-year-long hair and brought a single lock to burn with the Man.)
"No.  Look inside," he said.

It was the purple feather.

From then on, I say that if you give someone something that means something only to them
then you have given them a "purple feather."
It means you know their heart so well,
that you know even the most insignificant things.

Email me a message