Last night I met a poet, who worked in IT and considered writing poetry one of the few ways, through which he could interact with a larger group of people. I wanted to make him feel welcome in an environment, with which I was familiar. He reciprocated my courtesy by being actively engaged in our brief conversation. It was a pleasant start to a brand new hour on a Tuesday evening.
Thirty minutes into the hour, we had another gentleman and a lady join us in our gathering. This second gentleman was a well-known local poet, who had been the organizer of a famed local poetry slam competition for a few years. Sadly, the reason why he decided to join us last night was to announce that this year’s competition, which would take place on this coming Sunday, was going to be the last, the end. As someone, who had dedicated tremendous amount of his time, money and energy to building up and maintaining the vibrancy of the local poetry scene for a long time, he felt frustrated and disheartened by the lack of support, demonstrated by the exact people that he had worked so hard to help. More specifically, he was disappointed by the lack of presence and attendance of the people, who self-proclaimed as poets, at various poetry events.
It was a difficult decision for him to discontinue organizing and hosting an established annual event; however, his frustration and disappointment were clear to see. Out of all the words he said, a few stayed with me. For example, and I paraphrase, nothing is forever. For something to work, it requires cooperation, support, and collaboration. When we are involved in a group or an organization, even when we do not have an assigned role to play, our mere presence is enough to make the people in charge feel appreciated.
The words of this poetry organizer really resonated with me. When we are involved in a community but do not do our part diligently, we may still see other members smile at us from time to time; however, what we oftentimes fail to detect is what their real thoughts are on our characters and a person as a whole behind those cheerful lips.