Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

Why Do You Do It   

From January right through to mid-October, your friends, your family, perfect strangers ask you why you do it. You ask yourself the same question. It kicks around in your head, wakes you in the middle of the night, and dogs you when you’re deep in the woods trying to escape its demand. It, like the fear of failure and the subsequent consequences, never leave you.

Isn’t it time you gave up on doing this thing? Sometimes you’re asked this question too. You smile. Avoid eye contact. When you’re by yourself, you wonder, perhaps this will be the last year.

The tasks you undertake for the thing you do are different depending on the month. January through March, you typically chase the money. Will there be any? Where will it come from? How do you get your hands on it?   

To secure funding, you have to show the important people with deep pockets what you’ve accomplished and what still needs to be done. You bend over backwards and twist and turn like a trained seal, figure out where the hoops are and leap. Miss. Fall. And try again. Then you hope. 

But, the question persists. Why?

April through August you wait for responses to come about the money, fuss about invitations, about locations, topics to be discussed, people you will feature. You’re disappointed when someone says no. The rejection cuts as deeply as the time when you were a kid and the popular girls turned their backs on you in that snooty-you’re-not-good-enough-to-hang-out-with-us kind of way. Another question emerges: will I never outgrow my need to be accepted? Does anyone?

Early August, the product of all your work is out there for the world to see. The waiting begins. It’s finally been built and displayed. Will they come?

August through early October, you wake up every morning with a knot in your stomach. You gaze at the computer screen. Were there any hits? Any new orders? If none are there, you rethink everything you’ve done, wonder what else you can do to get your audience’s attention. Why aren’t they paying attention to this thing you’ve nurtured, loved and grown? It’s not like you’re doing this for yourself. Don’t they understand? This is for them.

You think about waving a flag of surrender, finding a hiding spot. You convince yourself not to cut and run. When it’s over, you’ll quit. This will be the last year you do this crazy thing. It’s hard on you and all the people around you.

Early October, last minute emergencies happen. Missed flights, wrong information provided, and guests lost in transit. These last minute emergencies happen every year despite your best efforts to plan for every possible eventuality.

You will find a solution, fix every last problem. Or you hope you will. That’s your job.

The question now is insistent, nudging you. Why? Now it’s shouting. You ignore it. The big day is near. You tell yourself, it’ll be over soon.

A few days before the event, you stop sleeping all together. Sure, you’ll go through the motions, go to bed, and then lie awake anticipating disaster, thinking of things you should have done differently, better.

Mid October and the weekend you started planning all those months ago has arrived. Guests are safely here. Problems have been solved. A respectable number of people have taken notice, bought tickets and shown up so you have an audience for your guests. There is no going back. There is nothing more to be done. You hold your breath anyway. For three days, until it’s over, you hold your breath. The question changes slightly, will they (guests and participants) be happy they came?

It’s over. The weekend passes in a flash.

Perfect strangers thank you, enthuse about meeting their idol, learning something, and finding their tribe. They don’t get many opportunities to do something for themselves in their regular lives. They tell you the weekend’s success is because of your diligence, your love. You thank them, on the brink of tears. It’s so much work to get to these few moments of elation. But you don’t tell them that part.

Your guests tell you how seamless the weekend was, how special they felt, what a terrific organizer you are, how much they appreciate your support, what a great job you’ve done. You beam.

Your thoughts have already moved to next year, how you’ll make this baby of yours even better.

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