Last weekend I went off to another giant political convention. My experience at my first convention last year had such a positive and transformative effect on me that my amazingly supportive wife encouraged me to go to this one.
And, truth be told, I was very excited for the convention, mostly because of the people I was going to be able to see. I knew from Twitter and Facebook that a lot of my friends from across the province would be there, and I assumed it would be easy to find them and talk to them at the event. I also thought it would be a great opportunity to sell some copies of my books, so I loaded up by suitcases with fiction and off I went to Toronto.
Looking back on the situation, I can see that I set 2 difficult conditions for a successful experience, which is at least 1 condition too many. The reality of a convention is that people are rushing around and are caught up in the pull of various sudden opportunities and activities. You might bump into everyone you’re hoping to see, but it’s unlikely to happen by sheer happenstance. Another reality of conventioneering is that you are too busy and tired to want to carry more stuff around with you. I certainly didn’t want to carry around the satchel full of increasingly heavy books for the whole weekend, so I wasn’t surprised when my chums didn’t want to either.
Tacked on top of my overly ambitious agenda was the sudden appearance of a raging throat infection, making itself known as I arrived in Toronto. My plans had to shift, and I was faced with a choice on how to respond to that. I could
A) get upset, beat myself up for failing to meet my goals, and mope for the whole weekend
B) Do the best that I could to participate in the weekend, while trying to take care of myself, and consider that a victory.
So I dug out my travel kit full of advil, cough syrup, muscle relaxants and away I went. Knowing that I wanted to experience the hospitality suites, if only to say that I had, I ate well, drank an extra coffee later in the day, and soldiered my way through the night. I had a blast.
The rest of the weekend was a sweaty, tired blur, that was punctuated by a countless number of kind gestures from the friends around me. They kept me in good spirits and well hydrated throughout those 2 days, and it made me realize how lucky I am to have these people in my life.
So, when I came home after this illness-infused journey, I took stock of it all. I didn’t meet my original success conditions, true, but in facing a challenging situation and finding a way to continue on despite it, I found a different set of successes to appreciate. And that’s the real lesson I took away from it all: sometimes you have to root around in the big pile of unintended outcomes to find the success, but it’s in there somewhere. Oh, and I have some pretty awesome friends and family.