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There are clubs and societies and then there are “meet ups”. I do not participate in the well-organized groups mentioned first largely because I had enough of those as a young wife, mother, teacher and professional. I just can’t be a good hen. “Meet ups”, however, I recently learned, are totally different. These are just loosely arranged gatherings that seldom have a real agenda. I had not heard of these until I became interested in wire work and learned there is a great benefit to gathering with like minded people. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet up with fellow wire workers who have left their egos at home. I’m speaking particularly of the San Marcos “Faux” Bead Society. We meet up once a month with merely a suggestion of what we’d like to work on. We enjoy seeing what other designers have completed during the past few weeks, ask technique questions and solve design problems together. It’s a nurturing atmosphere with no dues, no officers and no judgment. I see individuals encouraging growth in others no matter whether we are novices or professionals. I like it!
Last night I went to a meet up of a different type. The Texas State University History Department held their annual celebration of Texas music. On the stage sat a row of renowned Texas musicians who passed songs around. These included Ray Benson, Cody Canada, Raul Malo, W.C. Clark, The Sisters Morales and Cindy Cashdollar. As each performer sang solo, others would figure out what key the individual was in and fill in with guitar, dobro or voice. Every once in a while the soloist would call out a chord change or nod to a person to “take it” at which point another musician would do a short riff. It reminded me of the days when my son played fiddle and I played guitar (very badly). We would go to the Blue Grass festivals where musicians sat around in small circles of lawn chairs just trading songs. I always appreciated the older, more skilled musicians who encouraged my young son and let him have his turn. There was no real hierarchy.
While I enjoyed the music last night, I couldn’t help but notice what a great time the musicians appeared to be having. I believe they were genuinely pleased to have a venue to meet up with others who just liked to play. They just happened to be on stage in front of several hundred people. Each person could participate with the others if he or she wanted, but there was no pressure. The next gig they got didn’t depend on it. Relaxation was apparent. Unfortunately, one of the musicians didn’t seem to get it and didn’t participate with the others. He either wasn’t talented enough to pick up the tunes, he was having a bad night or he forgot to park his ego at the door. Whatever the case, he was the loser. It was interesting that the other musicians just left him alone and didn’t try to get him to play along.
So, what do these meet ups have in common? Did I learn anything from the musicians’ meet up that is applicable to the design meet ups? You betcha! The best things happen in a gathering when you try.
- Try to join in.
- Try to help someone else.
- Try to encourage others.
- Try to appreciate the small improvements that you and other make.
- Leave ego at the door. It doesn’t matter how many pieces you did or not sell; it’s just about sharing.
- If someone doesn’t want to participate; just leave the person alone.
It’s a real treat to go to a meet up where it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve been. It doesn’t matter if you feel funny or you feel sad; you can just BE. I think the Avett Brothers sum it up best in their song The Perfect Space.
I want to have friends
That I can trust
That love me for the man I’ve become
Not the man that I was
I want to have friends that let me be
All alone when being alone is all that I need
Thanks to the SMFBS for those Thursday meet ups!