Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

Barely Upright, Still Smiling

“A smile is the curve that sets everything straight.” Phyllis Diller   

I’ve been on the treadmill for months. Oh, yes, I own one, but I’m not talking about that instrument of torture, the everlasting staircase, used in the 1800s on prisoners and later reinvented for the fitness industry. I almost wrote, reinvented for the crazed, because I do feel a bit like that when I’m on mine. Pushing, pumping, sweating to get in whatever number of minutes or steps I’ve convinced myself to do.

There are many similiaries between that contraption and the work I find myself doing every year.

Yes, the movement is slower, more methodical. I’m talking about my organizing work now, not my running. And yes, it stretches over a longer period of time.

The months of planning, shaping, rejigging, and remaking the Whistler Writers Festival (affectionately known as the festival that could) can seem very much like the grind I feel on the treadmill. Other times, I’m going full out, as I do on that cruel machine, scrambling in those last few minutes to make the most of my workout.

Why the rollercoaster ride at the end after so much initial effort? I have no idea and yet it surprises me every single year. And I’ve been doing this work for 16. Nothing should surprise me. But something trivial will be forgotten or some ticket function won’t work. And I’m suddenly clambering and questioning. Why do I do this?

It’s lunacy. And my body knows this to be true. My sore stomach, stiff neck and inability to sleep are all signs. But what is there to do? I’m in it for the long haul. The work is too important to me to think otherwise.

A friend of mine who I hadn’t spoken to in a while wrote me this week. After updating each other on what we’d been up to (and really, how could I not go on and on about the festival), she said, “it’s good to hear you have some madness in your life. You thrive on it.”


I’m not so sure. She made me smile though. And in the end, that’s the only defence to any and all folly.

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