Monday, June 14, 2010

Get There Early

On Saturday I was downtown again for the Writer's Group meeting.  As I decided to drive this week, I was accidentally there a half hour early.  Now usually if I am in control of the situation I get there early, but throw in a train to catch or a husband to bring along, and early tends not to happen.

At any rate, there I was, poking around outside until Jim M. walked up, key in hand, waving a friendly 'Good Morning' to me.  Since I haven't taken a turn running a meeting yet, I took the opportunity to check out the goings on of the morning, how to get the key and where to leave it when we're done, the setting up and making of the coffee.  Jim P. showed up a few minutes later and told me he was the Coffee Man, so I stood back and tried to help at the same time.

Down in our regular room at the end of the hall at the DAZ, I opened a few windows and took a minute to look out over the square below.  Every Saturday this square is littered with many stands and more people, buying and selling everything from old dolls to supposed antique furniture, buttons to CDs.  There was a band playing somewhere hidden by the trees, and they were boisterous already at 9:45.  As we waited for the rest of the group to arrive I sat at the long table and opened my notebook.  Aside from the swinging music outside and Jim and Jim's photography talk, it was a quiet moment.  It was still.  I started to think about how nice it felt not to have to rush and to have a few minutes to just be in a place.

I've been reading a book called The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, and in the beginning of her account of a year-long project to heighten her own happiness, she sketches out not only some major life rules, but things she's learned to be true in her own life.  This morning I have learned a wonderful rule that works for me, which also translates to a lovely truth.  Get there early.  (The truth part comes from the getting there early.)  Wherever you're going, show up early.  Not only does arriving to whatever the destination may be eliminate the stress that comes with being late, embarrassing you or perhaps insulting your host, it also creates and opportunity to experience something unexpected from an otherwise planned outing.  Which brings me to another function of early arrival, in that it obliterates the robotic rhythm of pure errand-mode, i.e., get there just in time, do your thing, leave as soon as it's done, move on to the next item on the list.  This kind of going through the motions leaves no room for life to happen between stops.  And although errands are important and necessary to the continuous productivity of our daily lives, who remembers the sale on cucumbers?  It's the man who bumped into you, spilling both your grocery bags and making you late, who reminded you of your Grandad and made you smile.

So on this beautiful, sunny Saturday morning, because I got there early, I got to learn some of the rules of hosting Writer's Group, listen to a couple of photo pros talk shop, and people watch from the DAZ window.  And I had a little realization that is simple in itself, but meaningful having now written it down for myself.


  1. Great Piece! And who was late? The leader for that meeting, me!

  2. Great insight. MIGHT try it. (I'm just not THAT brave yet! But I agree, you see more when you take the time.) Was lovely seeing you and getting a chance to chat BEFORE the meeting too. (Hint: staying late and doing lunch is nice too, when you can swing it!)

  3. Every time I am early, I wonder why I don't do it more often. It feels so good. And it feels even more life-changing and important to hear you put it in words!