Embracing Small

Several months ago, I scheduled a reading at the Boonville Hotel. It’s a delightful weekend retreat, and I speculated that guests at the hotel might enjoy my kind of entertainment. Three weeks before the date, I notified the newspapers in the Anderson Valley and Fort Bragg, and sent posters announcing the reading to Melinda, the hotelier. I also asked a good friend who lives up there to encourage her book group to attend.

The day before the event, my friend emailed to tell me that a monthly meeting of the Anderson Valley Aging in Place group was scheduled at the same time as my reading. Another friend, who had been planning to attend, along with several of her friends, wrote that she was sick and wouldn’t be able to make it.

Despite this “bad news,” I was still optimistic. The editor of the local newspaper had emailed that he was looking forward to my reading. Another friend had told me she would be attending, along with some of her friends. If ten people show up, I thought to myself, I’ll be pleased.

The hotel had created an idyllic setting for the event: a gazebo, surrounded by the hotel’s garden, with its flower beds, vegetable plot and sloping lawn; along with 12 chairs, and a pitcher of water and glasses on a low table. When I arrived, I set up a book display, then went off to buy a cup of tea at a local café.

I returned at the appointed hour to three people waiting expectantly—three people I knew. Disappointment gripped me. “Everyone else from my book group is at the other meeting,” my faithful friend announced. “As well as most other people who would have attended.”

I wanted to turn on my heels and disappear. This was humiliating. I was stupid to plan this reading, to think I could pull it off, I scolded myself. And the hotel provided this beautiful setting. What a waste!

But despite the flight signals flooding me with adrenalin, suddenly, I knew just what to do: Think small!

And I did. This may turn out to be a fabulous small group, I reassured myself. You have no idea what the next two hours will offer!

And once again, small proved powerful. The time waltzed by, and the discussion that followed my reading was deep and rich and far reaching. As I was signing books, I realized that not only had small helped me rise above my disappointment and discouragement, it had helped me encounter joy in what otherwise might have been a dismal two hours.

Moment of Rust


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