I try not to ever set my expectations high, as this only sets one up for disappointment, but I don't think any set of expectations could have been low enough to shield me from disappointment this weekend.
We have been preparing for a very important art show for quite a while now, as I might have mentioned. It was a big deal, a $75 per person garden party and big tent event, with incredible food and drink, a live auction, a great live band with special guest Huey Lewis, and an intimate artisan show featuring twenty-seven 2-D and 3-D fine artists from all around Western Montana. Friday night was a fund-raising event for the local hospital's foundation, then the public was invited to come and see the art on Saturday.
The hospital's expectations were clearly exceeded. Tickets completely sold out with many people being turned away. After expenses, an estimated $45,000-50,000 was raised. Guests went away happy and the stage is set to now make this a very successful annual event, the hospital foundation's new favorite fundraiser.
My experience was not as joyful, however.
In addition to being featured as an artist, sharing a booth with Andy's woodworking, I was to be the event photographer for the evening. I got to the event early and decided to plug in my battery charger to top off my charge. It was plugged in when the major power surge struck. There was simply too much demand and the circuits couldn't handle it. The power strips all smelled of smoke. The musicians, setting up for their first set, blew fuses in their keyboard and sound equipment and began to scramble to make repairs. Artists' booth lights went out. Andy flew into action, leaving his own booth as guests began to arrive, in order to play electrician, trying to get the show back up on line. He was the hero of the moment, for sure and saved the show.
But my big camera battery was suddenly and completely dead. The charger was no longer working. I had no back-up. I was dead in the water.
I wasn't the event photographer after all.
The plan (my plan) had been to have a great time as the event photographer, adding fun to the event with my friendly enthusiasm and schmoozing efforts. I would get to hand out tons of business cards directing people to my website to see their photos in the exclusive event's private, password-protected gallery. By the time the live auction arrived and my donation--a six hour photography package with all images on CD and no copyright restrictions--was introduced, the bidding would be lively. People would know that I'm a fun photographer because they had been seeing me in action all evening.
But as it was, I did not take any pictures; I did not mix and mingle and have fun with the wining and dining crowd. No one knew who I was. I was just a name in the program. When the auction actually did get around to my item, the auctioneer didn't fully comprehend the situation and started the bidding too high. No one was willing to bite. He had to lower the price and start again. A few bids trickled in awkwardly while I smiled and silently wished I could crawl into a hole in the ground.
Beyond my own frustration with my equipment and lack of preparedness and loss of job, there was the booth situation. The event planners (which included Andy officially and me unofficially) were surprised at the last minute to find that the tent that had been rented for the artisans was oval instead of rectangular. The change in shape cost us 800 sq. ft. in usable space and we could no longer fit all the artisans in their tent. Three of us were moved to the main dining and entertainment tent, which sounded like it might be ok, but it played out as less than ideal. We got very little attention, sequestered away from the main art event.
Art shows are always hit and miss for the artists, and some artists really had lots of big hits at this particular show, but Andy and I were all about the misses this time. Not a single item sold--or even came close to selling. Andy had two tables, three chairs, a sculpture and a carved bowl. I had seven photographs on big canvases. Nothing.
So what is the proper response?
Can I say that God dropped the ball on this one, that this was supposed to be the event the really established me as a photographer in this valley and He didn't come through for me?
Can I say that God didn't ever care in the first place what happened at this (or any) event?
Can I say that God doesn't even exist anyway?
Sure. I could say all of those things. But that is not what I believe. I've seen too much.
Instead, I have to just shake my head and say, "Wow. I don't know what that was all about, but I will trust that there is another plan, a bigger plan, and that it includes a future...and a hope."
I suppose I should spend a little more time looking at my own photo, the favorite from this weekend's show, entitled "A Ray of Hope."
My children are getting good real-life training in handling disappointment. Perhaps they will have serious disappointments ahead of them in their lives and they will need these skills, this faith.
I am not depressed or overly frustrated. But I am tired. Goodnight.