Soft air, fresh, but not yet perfumed by blossoms still tight and pale on just-green stems, breathes through open windows. Forsythia and daffodils shine yellow against gradually greening grass. Magnolias have burst into clouds of purple-tinged white, the petals already wilting and tumbling like a snowfall.
Sure, I’ve taken moments to sit on the stoop, to steep in the glory of the season’s makeover, to mark even the jerky dance of myriad gnats, flecks of living dust dancing at the first hint of warmth. But, for twenty years, I have coordinated Eagle Hill-Southport’s spring benefit, and the event is a week away. If I do not direct myself consciously to look, listen, and feel spring’s scents and songs, it would pass, a backdrop, barely perceived, to my mental whirl of details, to-do’s and “don’t-forgets.”
Order an extra tablecloth for the photo booth prop table. Remind the caterer to tell the bartenders not to open too many bottles in advance. Pick up flowers for the program chairs! Should we order 20 more forks? Re-print the winners’ letters with changes noted. Get 5 X 7 frames for the prize lists.
At 3:13, or 3:27, or 3:56 AM, my eyes fly wide in the dark. Talk to the caterer about adjusting the number of servers. Confirm the psychic and DJ. Who will man the wine raffle table?
None of this is new; I know my frailties. Worry, guilt, and anxiety can rock me, so, I have routines, prayers, readings and writings (and a very dear husband – goes without saying) to bolster me. My current book-friend is The Art of Growing Up by Veronique Vienne. Some might snort at my wish to read a book with that title, and I wouldn’t blame them. At sixty years old, should I need guidance in this art? Apparently so.
A few days ago, butterflies had taken up their accustomed residence in my stomach, a feeling I’m used to, but dislike. During my morning reading, Veronique offered, “Enjoy the endeavor and good fortune will follow.”
I’m one of those people who read pen in hand. I underline, dog-ear, star and comment-in-margins when a passage strikes me. I’ve read many of my favorite books several times, and my life’s phases are reflected in the different words that have moved me. I will come to a page clean of Lea-ink, seemingly without interest given the absence of notation, but then a sentence breezed over before will capture my heart and bring tears to my eyes. It will comfort and inspire, warranting a flurry of stars, underlining, and comment.
“Enjoy the endeavor and good fortune will follow.” Unnoticed before, this time, the line prompted consideration. I thought about all the meetings, all the emails and discussions. I thought about the women who have given countless volunteer hours on behalf of the school and our students. I thought about the friendships that have evolved through the process, for I’ve not been alone in my lists, worries and three AM musings. In meetings with the parent benefit chairs, each has reported her own list of mid-night mind-storms. And other staff too, the directors of development and maintenance, have chipped away at their lengthy checklists.
Responsibility for this event weighs on me heavily - as does everything in which I play a role, or feel I should play a role - but Veronique helped me remember how much of that is shared, how willing others are to help; how much I’ve enjoyed the brainstorms, laughter, and even shared frustrations. She led me to recognize how much I’ve enjoyed this endeavor.
After reading Veronique’s wise words, it seemed a switch had been thrown, the butterflies flew, and I felt almost giddy. I went to school buoyant, with a full heart, because I realized good fortune is not just a hoped-for end product; good fortune can be the joy of the endeavor itself.