I shared this story and video at a work even the other day, so if you were there, don’t read this post — you’ll be bored! Read a different post. Or get a cup of coffee. Whatever you want to do. I’m not trying to run your life.
Last year, I helped organize a series of events at my company celebrating the written word. One of the events was really just my thing. It was called Poetry on Video. I spent a long time curating great poetry videos on youtube and from other places — a couple of hours’ worth total. People were supposed to be able to come in and watch a few or a bunch, and come and go as they pleased.
I reserved a big room for the event, set up with 200 chairs.
Four people came.
One of them left almost immediately, which was wise. The other three then felt like they couldn’t leave, or there would be no people. They were stuck there for the full two hours, watching video after video, like being trapped in a bizarre church service.
The whole time, I kept smiling as though this was turning out exactly as I had hoped. I was dying inside.
I knew that logically, it didn’t matter at all. So almost nobody came to a thing. What difference does it make? Literally none.
I also knew that as soon as it was over, I would find some private place to cry. And then get on with my day, as one does.
About halfway through the presentation, maybe to keep myself from crying too soon, I started repeating to myself in my head, over and over again: Something good is going to come of this. Something good is going to come of this.
I couldn’t even imagine what that might be. It was just a stupid failure.
When it was finally over, one of the audience members introduced herself to me. Liz told me that she made videos for my company, and that she would like to make a poetry video, for fun.
I told her how I wrote poems, and had always wanted to make one into a video, but that I don’t know anything about how to do that. Liz suggested we should work together, and I said that would be amazing.
I didn’t really think it would happen. But it did!
Liz recruited a terrific photographer to shoot footage for it. I asked a friend of mine, who had also been one of the three people in the audience, to compose music for it, and she agreed. Liz recorded me reading the poem (and I wrote a little bit over here about not hating your voice.) These talented people did a great job of bringing the poem to life. It was a ton of work for Liz in particular, and I’m so grateful.
So I guess the next time some plan of yours fails in a spectacular fashion, start looking for the good thing that might come out of it. 🙂
This poem, “Everybody Loves You,” was first published in Poetry East. (Stacey is my regular name, while Bryn is my fiction and blogging name — and for what it’s worth, the way I refer to myself in my head.) I hope you like it!