It’s that season. Weddings, showers, birthdays, and outdoor barbecues. Invitations to celebrate milestones.
While formal invitations, arriving via snail mail and email, are still frequent and appreciated, I am intrigued by the less formal ones.
The informal invitation is like the more spontaneous and unpredictable younger sibling. The informal invite is a thought to go out for coffee on a weeknight with little notice. It is the impromptu playdate after bumping into another family in the park. It is the dinner after the playdate because everyone is having such a good time and why not extend the fun. It is the weather-dependent reaching out to whomever is available: Hey! The sun is shining today, beach anyone?
And what about those open invitations? I am always amazed and envious of those people that offer open invitations to their home if you are ever in their area. And they really mean it too. They implore, Please stop by. I mean it.
I am not quite there yet. I haven’t really given out an open invitation. But I still welcome people in if they randomly drop by. I used to be quite concerned with the state of my home. But after a few times of having spontaneous guests, I see that people aren’t offended by the state of my home; at the very least, they feel comforted that the house is just as lived in as their own.
Once I took a chance and knocked on a friend’s door without previous notice. Actually, I did text her, “I am standing on your front porch.” This was more of a challenge for me. Just showing up unannounced. It was an experiment to see if there could be a mutual comfortable acceptance of the spontaneous. And I’m happy to say that my friend and I had a wonderful but brief conversation before I had to be off. I really just wanted to stop by and say, “How are you?”
I have put both an open invitation and specific informal ones to people to join me for a sunrise. A few have taken me up on that offer. (In fact, Ever-Patient is not impressed that not all sunrises are shared with him anymore.)
I’m not sure if it’s being up at dawn or the quiet city or being outside, but I have had some pretty amazing conversations. Conversations that probably wouldn’t have flowed being in a noisy cafe or restaurant. Some of these sunrises were with friends I hadn’t seen in awhile. But there was no small talk. We dove right in to the nitty gritty details of our life sparked by the anticipation of the sunrise. Ranging from an hour to a couple of hours, we were able to re-connect.
But inviting people is always scary. Whether you send out informal, formal, or open invites. You are in effect putting yourself out there. You wonder if anyone will show up. You take a risk. You have faith. But you are also honouring the invitee: I would like to spend time with you. I value your presence at this important event or this casual meet-up. I want to nourish this relationship.
When I openly invited anyone and everyone to participate in my mayBE project and these 100 scribbles, I didn’t know if anyone would show up. I didn’t know if it would be a party for one. When people accepted the invitation, like with any other invite, there was a gift exchange: I extended my hand and you reached out.
I loved seeing this sticker on our recent travels:
What caught my eye was the word “Let’s.” It’s partly torn off but without it, it seems like an individual command, Explore the Unknown. Adding “Let’s” changes it to an invitation. An invitation to join in the exploration. Maybe the whole journey won’t be travelled together. But I don’t think I’d like to explore it all alone.
Thank you for accepting my invitations. And remember, it’s always open.
100 scribbles…hurriedly writing here and now.