How Eclipsin' Helped Me Find Community
Truthfully, it has been a long few weeks of work and planning, and I didn't get around to thinking about a post in much detail. However, consistency and presence is important to me, so I'm dashing this off before my MailChimp account automatically emails something out to my few subscribers (thanks, y'all!! <3) in 57 minutes! This will be a little more stream-of-conscious than usual... here goes!
Rather than talking about work work, I thought I'd talk about community. What will likely surprise many people is that I'm quite the introvert. I relish weekends alone where I don't talk to anyone for nearly 48 hours. This summer has included a lot of travel, for work and fun - can't complain too much! But, they require me to be "on" most the time. While having and growing my consultancy is my dream, I struggle with finding ways to network and to promote myself in an authentic, non-sleazy way. As a result, I often find myself attending a few too many "young professional" events at all hours of the morning or evening and feeling stressed. Unless I have a buddy I've managed to drag along with me, I can get overwhelmed by it all and miss out on the whole point of being there - to meet people and talk about each other's work. To make connections.
"How does this all relate to community?" you might be wondering... she's just talking about hiding by the snack table at socials. You're not wrong, but I have a point! That is: I recently realized that it's one thing to pursue a community you want to be part of and another entirely to embrace the one you're in. Yep, seems so obvious.
When did I have this "well, duh" moment? On Monday morning during the Solar Eclipse, about 15 minutes after totality. There is a lovely park near my house with a ridge atop it. On clear days you have perfect views of Mt. Hood. I decided this was to be my spot for watching the Eclipse. I was in 99.8% totality! I arrived early (like 7:45 AM) with my camping chair, coffee, Snuggie, and a few books, and my eclipse glasses. Around 9 AM other neighbors started arriving, but I noticed something weird. Here we are on this ridge, but sitting so far apart. We're all clearly here together to experience this monumental celestial event - so why are we all trying to isolate ourselves from the moment? Without even thinking, I started walking up to strangers and calling them over to my little site. I had the best views of the Mt. Hood (perks of arriving super early) and if things were going to get eerie, I wanted companions. Turns out many of these people wanted the same thing - they just wanted to know it was okay to sit with me. As we got closer to totality the ridge filled up and it felt like a pop-up block party. People were sharing eclipse glasses and swapping stories of their hunt for a non-recalled pair. Sunscreen, snacks, and water bottles were getting passed around. We also talked about our shared experiences living in our neighborhood, revealing favorite walking paths, commenting on the latest "staff picks" at the library (turns out my neighbors are also avid readers!). Totality came and together we marveled at the drop in temperature (bringing my Snuggie was an A+ idea), the dim light, and the view of Mt. Hood. It was magical and then it ended.
Totality hit Portland at 10:19 AM, which meant most of us had to leave shortly thereafter to get back to work. As I was packing up my little campsite I was chatting with the first neighbor I called over. We were discussing our plans for the day, which led us to talking about our respective jobs. Turns out they are a grant writer for a local nonprofit. An authentic connection was made; business cards were exchanged. How's that for some eclipse magic?
Phew! 17 minutes to spare... Off to top-off my coffee and check some emails. Hang in there and be kind to each other.