How do you decide if something has been “successful?”
This morning, the “morning after” an event a couple of courageous friends and I organized, I am sitting with the question. Hearing about the need of a local family, we decided that together, we could make things a little easier for them.
We decided to pool our resources together (creativity, energy, connections) and generate enough cash to buy enough gas cards to lighten their current load.
And we went for it (I heard the words “balls to the wall” being mentioned a couple of times by observing eyes, in the last couple of weeks.). Yup, we went for it. We were on the radio, in the paper, on posters … We gathered a really varied and rich array of donations for our silent auction. A group of musicians joined us and offered their heart-guided sounds for several hours. The room was beyond beautiful, looking as though it belonged in a 5 star hotel. We had a great movie to sing along to. Scrumptious hand crafted food and drinks. Flowers. And beautiful people.
We worked fast and we worked well and we worked “hard” in a joyous way.
We made it happen.
Our goal, as defined during our first meeting was to generate enough gas cards so that these folks could go back and forth from their home in Anacortes to Seattle’s Children’s Hospital once a week for a year – and not worry about the fuel cost. We guessed that to be around $2000.
And last night, after everyone was gone and the Ballroom was quiet, we estimated that between the direct donations, the movie tickets and the silent auction … we most likely have reached our goal. Within two weeks and with a lot of energy and lots of generosity from some “YES people,” we have done it.
So why do I feel “funny” this morning? Well, first, there is that “morning after” feeling. No doubt about that. After focusing so intensely on this event, it feels strange to be on the other side of it.
But there is more.
There is a bit of … something. There is a bit of something that comes from the fact that really, very few people showed up. Let me re-phrase this. A LOT OF PEOPLE SHOWED UP. As I write this (writing is always my no-fail therapy), I realize that a lot of people showed up.
In many different and beautiful ways. But not in the way that my mind had thought they would. I had imagined a room full of people. Really, a room full of strangers who would have shown up lured by our savvy promotion and would have mingled and donated and made a lot of cocktail party noises. I had imagined a loud affair. I had imagined something different than what was. And often, that’s exactly where the snag lives: in the space where things are different that what we had imagined.
What really did take place? Well, very few “strangers” showed up, last night. Instead, it was more of our lovely growing little community. The silent auction brought in a good amount of cash and when Marilyn added it up in her head, about half way through, and shared that number with me, I was shocked. How could it be? Hardly anyone had been here! Wrong. Plenty had been here. WE had been here. Something about that felt weird and last night, I was too tired to extract the gifts from that. I was still living in that “snag” place. I had stories in my head of “Well, if we bid on our own auction, does it count?”
This morning, I feel very differently. This morning, I am seeing how while this did not happen the way my mind (ego ?) had envisioned it, it was beautiful. There we were, in that room that has become our home away from home, our place of creation – together. And together we doubled the money that had been sent to us over the last two weeks by many many people – many of them whom we have never met.
It seems to me that again, we are dealing with a matter of Essence vs Form. The Essences we declared when starting on this little adventure were Peace of Mind and Joy. I am going to say that these two Essences have been met. Clearly. Peace of Mind and Joy for us as we created this thing out of thin air (ok, so we may have gotten a little bit overwhelmed a couple of times), Joy for the people who chose to play with us and contribute, and now Peace of Mind for a family who is about to get handed a stack of shiny gas cards. In the amount we had hoped for.
The Form was not exactly what we had envisioned and yet, now that I sit with it, I am thinking that it may actually be way sweeter than what my little mind had crafted. And the sweetness comes from another Essence which is so huge for me: COMMUNITY. Community with intimacy. Community that grows slowly and deeply from doing things together. Playing, creating, grieving sometimes too. And giving. Giving of our smiles, our time, our music, our art, our hearts, our gifts, our presence.
This morning, this “morning after” I look back and think that yes, this was very successful.