I am up to my elbows in a big black garbage bag, my hands sheathed in latex gloves as I sift through the coffee doused contents of the bag searching for the small strips of paper I need to save. Ellie, oblivious to my frenzy, is sleeping in the sun at the foot of the deck.
I rifle through the bag. Find one! Pull it out, carefully separate it, checking to see if it is still legible in spite of its coffee soaking. It is! I lay it on the table and dive into the bag again.
The air around is me filled with the aroma of day old donuts, coffee, and other unidentifiable foods, but I don’t notice. I am focused. Intent. committed to finding what I want and desperately trying to ignore the unidentifiable contents of the bag.
And I am laughing.
At me. My predicament. At life. At the wonder of it all.
Who knew that the day before, when I emptied the box of sign-in forms from the art show that less than 24 hours later, I would be dumpster diving as I desperately tried to save the sign-in forms that were the foundation of our building the art show database from the landfill?
Well, definitely not me. In fact, at the time of my mistake turned hilarious predicament, I was so focused on closing down the art show, getting all the silent auction items tagged, winners called and their prizes wrapped and readied for pick-up, I didn’t think twice when one of the artists asked, “Where is the box for the ledges on the easels?”
The sign-in forms were temporarily in the box. I’d put them there to give us more room to mix them up before making the draw.
One of the silent auction winners came in to pick up his painting. I asked him to make the draw. He did. I placed the winners information in my folder and…. threw out the rest of the sheets. The box was needed and I was on a mission — get the hall cleaned up so we could all go home!
It wasn’t until a couple of hours later when C.C., Tamara (my fellow Bombshell artist/organizer) and I were sitting in a pub sharing stories of the show with a friend that memory of what I had done hit me.
My stomach dropped. My eyes grew big and, according to Tamara my face turned white. “Oh no!” I exclaimed.
“What?” C.C. and Tamara asked in unison.
“I can’t believe what I did!”
They both were somewhat confused. I was sitting in front of them, eating a salad wrap and enjoying a glass of Pinot Grigio. What could I have done?
I looked at Tamara. “Oh dear. I don’t want to tell you.”
I took a breath and told her. “I threw out all the names from the draw. Our database is in a bag in the dumpster!”
The problem. The dumpster was locked when we left, the keys to it and the hall slipped through the mailbox slot for the caretaker to retrieve in the morning.
“I have her phone number in my cell!” Tamara exclaimed, handing me her phone.
The problem. It was the main number for the office at the hall where we had held the art show. I got the answering machine.
There’s a church group there in the morning, she said. They’ll have the key.
Which is why after a joyful Mother’s Day brunch with friends, we were standing by the dumpster at noon, sifting through its contents, looking for ‘the bag’.
Fortunately, the dumpster had been emptied on Friday morning. The church group had not yet dumped their garbage. Our five bags were the only ones there.
We found the bag we needed on our second try. Not bad for my first ever dumpster dive.
And that’s why I was laughing in the sunshine, wading through a bag of soggy garbage as the warm May sunshine beat down upon me on our deck.
What else could I do? I could cry. I could be angry. I could be resentful or, I could choose to find the humour in the situation.
You gotta admit. It was kind of funny.
There I was. Riding the wave of success from our show, suddenly remembering something I’d done that in the moment had seemed inconsequential, unimportant, irrelevant, (quite practical and tidy actually!) and then, suddenly, vitally important.
In the heat of the moment, I wasn’t thinking about ‘the what’ of those forms. I was reacting to the need to ‘get the job done’.
All things are connected. They were in the box because the glass container we used to collect them was too full. I had placed some of them there earlier in the day to preserve them for the draw. My mind hadn’t gone to the bigger picture of why we were collecting email addresses. It was focused only on the need to draw a name to ensure someone won the door prize. once drawn, the forms no longer had relevance to me, at the time.
Note to self. When in the thick of what’s going on and really, really tired. Take a moment. Breathe. Get present. And then, take action.
Who knows. Next time, if I breathe first, take action last, I might not have to go dumpster diving again! Bonus!
PS. I saved most of the forms and they are now drying on my worktable in my studio. The gift — I had a good laugh and even greater memories of the show. It was amazing. More about it tomorrow.