Monday evening, sitting in the courtyard of the Jupiter Hotel, Burnside Street east of the Columbia river, Portland. It is of course a perfect day, sunny and not too hot, what I’m sure it’s like every summer day in the pacific northwest even though the locals would like us to believe otherwise, ha. Earlier we’d reunited with old friends, met new friends, I ate smoked tomato soup, and we’d all taken instant pics of each other for our name badges. There, in Portland, a gathering of people, by the very fact of being there were making a stand to say I want different and I’m willing to risk for it.
People often ask me what is WHAT IF? I’ve thought about this question a lot. I’ve asked people who have been through it with me, the first conference in Mexico earlier this year (I blogged about it HERE), and now the second one, which took place in Portland last week. On the surface, it is a conference for people who are trying to make a business out of their art; a place for creatives to build a community and to learn from each other. It’s a place where we dare each other to build a dream worth fighting for…. and then actually try to do it. But it’s so much more than those mere words can get across, and so I fail every time at trying to describe what it is and why I believe in it with my whole heart.
It sounds so lame to write it out, but I don’t know what else to say other than sitting there in that courtyard, as Dan in his red plaid shirt welcomed all us dreamers and eventual doers with that big smile of his… that this was where I needed to be, right at this exact moment in my life. In a way that was different than the What If we attended six months ago, but equally as real and important. A theme that kept on coming up in conversation and through everyone who got up and spoke to the group, was this idea of living through the tension/edgy-ness/uncomfortableness/transition (we gave it a lot of different words, but I think in the end it’s all the same thing) and that it is this uneasiness that pushes us forward to the next great thing. It’s about continually striving with the knowledge that you’ll never ‘arrive’, but that the true successes come out of journey. It’s funny, because of the very nature of what it is, right off the bat things are so honest, and that might be what I love most. We talked about hard stuff. We talked about failures. We cried. But we also laughed and forced each other to remember that everything we need is already inside of us and to listen to ourselves. That’s what What If is.
What If is also this….
Beth looked like Princess Leia one day, the boys were happy… :)
oh, there was tequila….. :)
A friend I made out on the streets of Portland. He wanted to be a photographer too :)
…. Posers ;)
That second-to-last image there, I need to explain… we took up a “tip jar” at the end of the conference. You see, anyone who’s attended knows that this conference should have a few extra zeros on the end of the price of admission. Anyone who’s attended also knows that Steve & Jen Bebb put their heart and soul 100% into making this conference happen, no matter what the sacrifice to them. That’s how much they believe in this community and in everyone who puts themselves out there in giving this brand new & very different conference a try. They are CAN people, and they inspire Dave & I to take risks for what we believe in. They force us to hear the hard truth that it really is easier to sit in the lap of safety and comfortableness, but that is no life for those who dream bigger. Thank you SO MUCH to What If Portland’s official speakers Samm Blake, Anne Sage, Mary Marantz, Liz Forkin-Bohannon & Fer Juaristi, the alumni who also shared, and everyone else who maybe didn’t share on stage but did so in all the other times — you made this trip to Portland what it was for Dave & me. Dave and I also were able to share a little bit in front of everyone, thank you for everyone’s support in that too :)
Pre-registration for the next What If is already open HERE! This makes me excited you guys. Will I see you there? It’s super hard to take photos of projector screens, but that last image was shared by a couple named Mary & Joel from Portland, and it says “sometimes the direction with the most unknowns makes the best story” and I agree 100%.
July 2012, Portland OR.