Learning how to Do!
Being at the Do! Lectures was a time to be away from everything…no work, phone, internet, stress, noise….everything. Times like this are rare, and for me personally have never been fully experienced before. Time away from my every day life or work has been non existent for the best part of nearly 10 years and I’m not just talking about a lack of holidays…I mean personal time to reflect and find myself in the mess of life. Being in the wet, quiet rural setting of the fforest farm in Cardigan, I found exactly that!
Participating as a volunteer at Do, shaped a very different experience in comparison to being an attendee would have given me. I worked, and I worked really hard. This is something that’s been stuck in my brain since I was young. I enjoy working and I like to put all I have into whatever it is I do (and always will) to do a good job. From shifting haybails, buckets of sand and scaffolding, to scrubbing decking and washing up hundreds of dishes after each meal, I simply just got on with it.
It was amazing to be away from a desk and to be using my hands (well, more like my entire body) to do some more physical work for a change. I’m not sure if it was the fresh air whilst working, the bits of sun or even working in the rain but it felt really good to be working so hard for no other reason than to get each job done. It wasn’t until after three and half days of working all day to prepare the site and whilst the attendees were there that I realised that I’d missed all of the first days lectures and half of the second days talks too. I hit a slump. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing the excitement of the event that seemed to be present within everyone around me.
It was then, that the Do team pulled me aside and told me that there had been a mix up and that they’d been told how much I was doing. I’d just been quietly doing my job – as I have in every job I’ve ever had. But for some reason this felt really different. What hit me about this, was that it was noticed. Not by one person, but the Do team, the Fforest site team and some of the attendees had all pointed out the effort and time I was putting in to it. The moment that followed this was really important to me – not only did those people acknowledge that effort, they thanked me for it. Not just one person…all of them. Suddenly, I had gained some of the most meaningful appreciation for my hard work I’ve ever had. This is something I find to be wrongfully very rare considering how much of our lives we spend working.
I was then rewarded by being told to enjoy the rest of the talks and to relax. It was from that moment that I got to see why this event is so special. Not only do the teams running it care so much, but the people speaking and attending do too. Each speaker (as well as some of the attendees I met) had something really personal to share through a passion of theirs, either explained / discussed / or even ranted about. People from all walks of life mixing and socialising in such an organic and open way is a very powerful thing. Getting to know each other on a personal level, sharing experiences that you may not usually share created a great sense of wonderment and excitement amongst everyone.
Amongst the incredible amount of things that I have taken from all of my experience at Do, I have to say that three speakers made a pretty big impact in my search for finding myself in the mess of life. Something I often struggle with is the feeling that I’m not following my dream in the right way, or that I’m stuck or lost on my journey. Tim Smit, Tim Drake and James Victore made me realise that what I’m doing with my life right now and what I’m trying to get out of it is the right thing for me. They made me realise that even though I’m doing it the stupid way to a lot of people, that it’s ok for me to do it my way because I can hold on to that and make it grow without losing what’s most important to me along the way. But also that “It’s going to be ok…coz it has to be, right!”.
A theme emerged from the experiences of the Do lectures, and it was one of a story, a personal journey for every one of the speakers, attendees and volunteers. These stories manifested themselves in vastly different ways and yet shared such a strong connection with each other. There’s a lot to be said for the people that I met during my time at Do, as each one of them had something truly inspiring to share. Nothing profound, mystical or revolutionary, but a great sense of purpose, humility and passion for their experiences and dreams in their lives.
I think the most poignant part of Do for me has been today – the first day of not being there. Time to reflect on the experiences, the people, and my own realisations. This reflection time alone has made that experience so valuable to me. A chance to really look deeper at my life and what I want from it. Giving me new energy and focus on what I have and what I’d really like from my life. I can’t say what’s going to happen because it’s an impossible thing to do, and that’s something I think I’ve fixated on for far too long. So from here on out I’m focussing on living my life to make the most of each meaningful moment I get with the people I care about, my own ambitions and to reach the life that I need and is dearest to my heart.