Feeling four again

Last night, I had one of those rare, amazing flashbacks to those moments of pure joy that those of us who are, well, mature usually only remember from our childhoods. Last night our little town of Groton, Mass., continued its year-long 350th birthday celebration with a concert and fireworks on the town field. Since it's only about a half-mile from our house, my husband and I walked down the old railroad track that has been converted to a walking/biking trail to the field. As the sun set, the kids ran, jumped, and spun to the music--it didn't seem to matter whether it was the symphonic music from the orchestra, or the canned pop tunes they played during breaks. The energy they gave off was the same wild over-excitement that I'm sure kept them up past their bedtimes after they got home.

Then, of course, there were the fireworks, and while Groton is no Boston, to me the display rivaled anything those on the Esplanade experienced the night before. I found myself laughing, yelling, oohing and ahing like I was four again.

But the best part was walking back down the rail trail, now pitch-black under a new moon. As soon as we got beyond the lights of the parking lot, a darkness so complete you could taste it surrounded us. Then the fireflies began to flicker, dart, and spark the darkness in the bushes, the treetops, and over our heads, lighting our way down the path like sparks from the world's biggest bonfire. Even my very pragmatic husband was awed by the sight. I think it was so intense because we weren't expecting it--this light show came out of nowhere, delighting us when all we were looking forward to was a dark trudge through the humid night air.

If you could have bottled our experience last night, which I can't sufficiently put into words, it would have been priceless. It made the night something I'll never forget. To make this post even mildly related to meetings, I'll ask: What can you do to bring those unexpected moments of joy to your meetings and events? How can you surprise them with something completely different than what they think is going to happen? Shake them out of their been-there, done-that with something out of the blue that is so delightful it turns them into kids again?

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