I attended two large shows recently teaching free 'open to the public' classes. It was a fascinating experience on many levels. On one side, it was pure delight watching people give themselves permission to be creative. It was fascinating viewing the process over and over again. I kept being reminded of the intro from my second book where I talked about getting that fresh box of Crayola crayons and a brand new coloring book. Every kid enjoyed that moment, every kid got lost in that adventure, because back then there were no rules and you hadn't decided you weren't an artist, yet.
It was a study in human behavior too, because you very quickly saw how people approached their lives by how they approached their project. Some people dove right in and ignored the instructions, blissfully unconcerned with listening to the instructor's advice. Opening packages willy nilly, dumping glitter and glue with abandon, and generally getting lost in their own little world. Most of them experienced a variety of craft fails which could have easily been avoided had they waited just a moment for a road map. Some of them made epic messes that took a fair amount of effort to clean. Some people stared at the projects with furrowed brows muttering over and over that they weren't artists and they were doing it wrong. No matter how much we encouraged them to let that go and just have fun, they were unable to relax. So their expectations of failure were met. Some people listened carefully and proceeded to 'follow the rules' precisely, resulting in a successful project, but one that lacked any personality. Some people listened, followed the guidelines and then dove into the fray and let their imagination take over. Those projects were definitely the most interesting of the bunch.
Finally...there were people who could not be happy about any of it, even though it was free! I was scolded multiple times by people who showed up to a full house and felt it unfair that we did not have extra free kits for them to take with them. People took time to take me to the side and yell at me because I didn't watch bags they'd left behind or save seats for them or give them extra products. Yes, they yelled at me because they didn't get the free thing in the way they expected and it was my fault that there weren't more chairs and more kits and more accommodations for their needs. Some people got really weird about colors and materials, demanding to have the exactly same color yarn or markers as someone else. Even when we suggested they share, these people scoffed and scowled. SHARE! Harumph. People stole our rented chairs, they dumped entire buckets filled with product that was meant for other classes into their bags, they took virtually everything that was nailed down.
My takeaways from these events were many. But most of all I was reminded that we get that upon which we focus. Meaning if you live in a place where there isn't enough and it isn't going to work out and you're not capable of rising to the occasion, then no one is going to be able to fix that for you. No matter how many markers or jars of glue you steal or how much you complain about not getting enough or how much you blame the instructor and the instructions, that void in you will continue to expand and it will never be filled. These people can not appreciate what they get for free. The truth is, they are the minority. It's just that they're a very vocal minority. That being said, we only have to get caught up in their weirdness if we so choose. The drama loses impact if no one else participates.
If you live in a place were life is a glorious adventure, where there is abundance and it is already working and you can rise to every occasion, then life is a celebration. When you approach life with this kind of joy, every little gift is treasured. Experiences count and so does kindness. Anything is possible. These people appreciate all of it. They get that the experience, good or bad, is entirely up to them and entirely a matter of perspective. They're happy to share, because they're not afraid of running out. The truth is, they are also in the minority. They are a more quiet minority, but a powerful one. Their joy is contagious, in a good way.
Most people live in the spaces in between, but if you can meet them where they are and make them feel valued, accepted and embraced, then you both get something wonderful from the experience. Even if they don't 'get it', as long as you offer it, you've done your part. We get that opportunity every day. Kindness really does count.
Ultimately, after days and days of these experiences, it became clear that it wasn't about the free glitter.
It was about something much bigger and brighter and far more sparkly.
And that's some mighty good stuff indeed.