For months Bob and I and a select team of close friends and allies have been planning this year’s Collective Biodiesel Conference. The planning committee raised funds, solicited sponsors, chose caterers, filled a website with useful information, installed a registration mechanism, rounded up volunteers, spiffed up gardens and created a campsite complete with fire ring.
Yesterday both Bob and I worked in the Carolina sun all day, him wrestling pvc pipe into frame for a band shell cover, me battling blackberry in the garden by the biodiesel pump. Lyle built a floor and railings for the viewing stand at the campground. Tami flits back and forth all day, every day. Malcolm and Jules mow and mow and mow.
No one hugs in greeting these days because we’re all too sweaty. Sunburnt and often bloody, Bob and I arrive home in time to rustle up dinner and relax into a movie.
This is work I enjoy – the planning and preparations, the grounds keeping, being outside all day, turning chaos into order, making things pretty.
I spent one of my hours at The Plant yesterday crouched under the maple tree gouging weeds from the life-sized chess set and cutting them away from the edges of the sidewalk, then sweeping everything clean. As I was leaving for the day I took a deep breath of wet air and turned to admire the crisp lines of the liberated sidewalk. I was filled with contentment, pleased with my work and even forgot about my lower back for a few moments.
But despite having oodles of hours behind us, the highest hurdles lie ahead. Next week will be the ultimate test of my sanity as the plan we have painstakingly constructed begins to play itself out.
We may think we’ve got all bases covered but when the space fills with participants, speakers and volunteers I’m pretty sure there will be some surprises. One of the caterers might show up late or not at all. A camper could stumble into a hidden nest of yellow jackets. An enthusiastic biodiesel admirer may partake too freely of the kegged beer and clog the rest room sink. Someone will need a bandaid and they all will have mysteriously vanished. Undoubtedly, there will arise a condition we had not even thought to plan for which will require quick thinking.
In a word, it will be chaos.
For some, unexpected problems may be exhilarating or at least funny and definitely par for the course. Most of the planners will be able to see past the unforeseeables to the free-flowing food and easy camaraderie between long-time biodiesel supporters.
But for me, the little potholes in our road to success will spike my stress levels high into the maple tree. I’ll scurry and worry and wish I weren’t responsible. All it will take is for someone to spill 12 ounces of beer on our napkin supply or bleed on the tablecloth and I’ll wonder how such a well thought out plan went so awry.