Running an Event

20705581I never can sleep the night before a big event.

I used to think that it was just because I’m a terrible procrastinator and had too much to get done before the event. But, having had experiences where everything was done and buttoned up, I still can’t sleep before an event. I lay there in bed with my leg jiggling, unable to drift off, wondering with 30 “Yes” RSVP’s and 40 “Maybe” RSVPs, how many people will show up, will we be able to pay for the space, the supplies.

Friday night, before my Ringing Anvil Beltane on Saturday May 12, I found myself wired and with a lot to do. Much as with many other nights before an event, I underestimated how long a few last minute tasks would take me. But honestly, I get a burst of inspiration and started working on some art projects that I didn’t exactly need to do, just to add extra cool factor.

Wasn’t like I was going to get much meaningful sleep anyways.

Loading Up
I did manage to sleep for a couple of hours and then got up to shower and finish loading the car. Fortunately I’d done most of that already. Loading and unloading the car has to be one of my least favorite parts of the event. Or more specifically, loading and unloading alone. Not having any team members or cavalry…knowing that that entire pile of stuff is there and I’m the only way it’s going to get into that car/get up to the venue. 

That’s literally the stuff of my nightmares. You know the ones, the repetitive dreams where you’re trying to do a task but you can’t ever quite get it done. I have those dreams where I’m trying to load an elevator full of boxes, or move everything from one place to another. Over and over, and I can’t finish the job.

I really hate loading my car alone.

I got the shock of my life when my Indiana contingent arrived early enough to help me finish loading up my car. That meant they were also able to help me unload the van and get everything up into the venue. Actually, those folks were awesome in ways I don’t have words for. They stuck it out til the bitter end helping me reload the car before passing out in my living room and then heading back to Muncie.

How Does an Event Happen?
Running an event takes a lot of people willing to do different things. It takes people with the crazy ridiculous vision–that’s usually me. Though truth be told, I love noodling with other visionaries.

If I’m going to get really truthful, I’ve had to admit that it’s one of the reasons I stayed with my former partner despite his hurtful behavior. It’s really rare to find someone that I click with, someone who loves brainstorming about and running events. There really aren’t that many people out there that just love plotting and planning an event, and who are then willing to do the grunt work to make it happen.

Planning this particular Beltane, I faced some personal fears. I hadn’t done an event where I was the solo driving visionary force in quite a while. I have to admit, I was a little nervous.

But this amazing thing happened. I was not alone. There were many people who stepped up and stepped in to make things happen. People stepped in to take ritual roles, they stepped in to help make things happen. I am really excited to continue growing a team of people to run events, to give people the opportunities to learn what they want to learn and help out where we need helping to make the events happen.

What Event Organizers Need
Maybe sometimes I have done too good a job at making it look like I can do everything. But at the end of the day, aside from help with kitchen cleanup and setup and ritual roles, there’s one thing that I need, more than anything.

I need someone to care.

When I send out an email to a group of people about an idea, and hear nothing back, I start to panic. Does anyone care about this? Would anyone show up? Why do I bother doing this work?

When I sent out an email inviting brainstorming and ideation to people who have stepped into planning with me (cofacilitators, volunteers, ritualists, etc.) and I hear nothing back, I get tired and sad and wonder what I’m doing with my life.

And sure–some of this is without a doubt poor boundaries on my part. But in my mid-thirties, I have finally had to make an almost guilty admission.

For things that involve community and group interaction, I have to admit it though I’ve fought admitting this for almost a decade. I am externally motivated. 

For some things in my life I am internally motivated, I don’t need anyone else to tell me “good job.” But for other things, I really want that external approval. So let me say it again and own it. I am sometimes motivated by the emotions and energy and approval of others.

We’re not talking about needing approval for everything I do in my life. But if I’m running a big ritual, I need for others to be excited about it. I need to not hear crickets when I send out an email, I need people to say, “Yes!” “We’re excited!” “That sounds cool!” in order to have that last bit of fuel to make it through the event.

I get motivated by working with energetic, excited, and invested people.

Engaging Ritual Participation
This carries over into the rituals themselves. When I’m trying to get a group of shy, reticent people involved and invested in a ritual and I see glassy stares, it’s harder than heck to find the motivation inside myself to try and make an amazing ritual happen.

What I experienced on Saturday night at Beltane was beautiful. People practically jumped in when they were included and invited to participate in the ritual. They sang with their whole voices and breaths, and my gods did we make an incredible sound.

Calling to the Seekers
We made such an amazing sound that the chant built up, and in the afterglow after, it rose up again–the group wasn’t done yet. And I felt that golden bliss-shock-heat of inspiration on the back of my tongue, the golden words that sometimes come when a group has been particularly ecstatically invested in a ritual.

I asked everyone to send out the Call. At the beginning of the ritual, we heard the Call that came from the peak of the hill of Avalon, calling us forth to our destiny, calling us forth to become more than we were, to become greater.

And at the end, I said something like, “There are sleepers out there. There are those who haven’t heard the call, but they are waiting. And as we have heard the call and came here, we need to send the call out to them.”

And we sang again, sang out this ringing note of the Call that I could feel spreading outside of that room and beyond to all those thousand sparks of light outside the room, far away, that were waiting for such a call. And I could feel those starlights, candleflames, tremble just a bit at the sound, begin to wake up.

Why Do I Bother Doing It?
In that moment, I would swear to you that I felt them out there. That they heard us, on whatever level.

And knowing that we who put on these events are here to prepare the way for them–and that there is such an amazing team of people growing around Ringing Anvil–has reinspired me and reawakened me and brings the tears to my eyes. I once again look forward to the next event.

I still never can sleep that night before, but who knows. Maybe that will change as more people step into anchoring roles and I feel the strength of the team bond building up.

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