#13: Participate in a flash mob

When I created my 101 list, I simply wrote down items that I wanted to try, experience, do. I didn’t pay attention to cost, logistics, reason, or rationality – I just included whatever came to my mind that 1) was new and novel to me, and 2) excited me in some way.

However, once the list was finished and published, I paused at several of the items and wondered, “Hmm, now how exactly am I going to do that?” I wondered, but I didn’t worry; past experience has shown me that when I genuinely want something, and set an honest intention to achieve it, the Universe will do all sorts of crazy things to present opportunities to me. Once an opportunity appears, it then becomes my job to do the work required to take advantage of the opening, and to turn what was once a semi-impossible idea into a very cool reality.

When I put #13 on my list, I had no idea how/when/where it would come about. I had only heard of flash mobs through friends forwarding along viral You Tube clips – I had never actually experienced one live. But the idea was so cool, and as I watched various video clips and saw the genuine surprise and authentic pleasure of each crowd who was happily ‘mobbed’ by a group of seemingly independent strangers all coming together to create an impromptu experience, I always smiled. I knew I wanted to be a part of one. Yet, I don’t belong to any singing, dancing, or acting groups (the typical trio from which flash mobs are usually born), so I truly didn’t know how my involvement in a flash mob would ever come about. Oh well, wait and be patient. I had over two years to find a way for #13 to happen – so let it go for now, and focus on some of the other 100 items. So I did.

Then last week, I was skimming through various news on Facebook and saw an entry posted to my old yoga teacher training group. (I finished the yoga training program over six months ago, but still stay connected to the group from an alumni point of view [and because I still love yoga].) Anyway, a fellow yogi wrote on the group’s wall that she was looking for people to participate in a yoga flash mob, to occur at the city’s annual Healthy Life Expo. Ahhh, what’s that noise I hear? I believe it’s opportunity knocking.

As soon as I read the Facebook post, I knew this was my chance to experience #13. I responded to the organizer immediately, and let her know that I was totally in. I then posted the quick announcement to my personal Facebook wall, and invited anyone who wanted to play along to join the party – the more, the merrier!

The next day, I received an email from a former coworker-now-friend, asking a few detailed questions about the flash mob experience. Were we going to perform difficult yoga poses, or would anyone be able to do them? I assured my friend that the yoga sequence we would be showcasing was completely doable by anyone of any fitness/activity/flexibility level – no ‘special skills’ required. After a few more back-and-forth emails, my friend confessed that a part of her wanted to participate, but a larger part of her was nervous/uncertain/fearful about trying. However, she didn’t want to live in fear, so she wanted to push herself beyond her comfort zone and do this event. I sent her one more encouraging email (and the offer to practice the sequence with her a few days before the event, if that would help allay some of her anxiety), and with that, she committed and said she was in. Hooray!

Fast forward a few days: I have arrived at the actual event. I made my way to the rendez-vous spot a good 30 minutes early (I’m a stickler for being on time, especially for an appointment where timing is critical!); however, when I ever-so-casually scoped out the venue, I saw the following sign:

(Read the fourth line down.)

At this point, my gut knew that this event was not going to go well. Crap.

By definition, flash mobs are supposed to be a surprise. (“A Flash Mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression.” ~Wikipedia)  To advertise the occurrence of such a gathering defeats the entire purpose of doing it. So, this was issue #1.

Flash mobs are also supposed to be mobs – i.e., large groups of people. One of the first flash mob that assembled (back in 2003) had around 130 people; today, a ‘good sized’ flash mob generally needs at least 30 people (but usually more is better). Today at 12:55 pm (5 minutes before the yoga mob was set to strike), only four people had assembled (myself, my friend, the organizer, and one other woman). This was issue #2.

At 12:59 pm, my friend and I looked at each other, both silently wondering when we were going to receive detailed instructions on exactly how the event was going to go down. You see, generally speaking, flash mobs are supposed to be tightly coordinated and highly organized – and I’ll just say that this one really wasn’t. Issue #3.

And I could keep providing more issues that further eroded this whole “flash mob” experience; but I really do want to keep this blog space as positive as possible. So, suffice to say, completing lucky #13 on my 101 list was turning into something quite unlucky.

After participant dropouts, program disorganization, and semi-substantial production delays, I finally put my foot down and demanded that the damn demonstration actually begin. It did – and it was a complete disappointment. During the display I felt disgraced, and afterwards I felt both anger and disgust. I spent literally three hours of my precious weekend on this?! And, a friend also had to suffer this debacle?! Deplorable!

Okay, back to trying to be positive:
1) The yoga ‘flash mob’ is over.
2) The camera crew who was supposed to tape the event was never found, so hopefully no video will end up on You Tube.
3) My friend still likes me.
4) I got to spend part of my weekend with my friend.
5) I kept my word, and participated in the event even though I really didn’t want to once I saw how it was shaping up. I still have my integrity.

Thank goodness for all of the above.

Shortly after the experience ended and my friend and I processed the whole mess, she gently asked me if I would participate in another flash mob if the opportunity presented itself. (I think maybe she was asking if I feel like I can consider this item “done”, since what I took part in really wasn’t a flash mob by any definition of the term…) To answer the second question, yes, I am marking this item as DONE. I did my part, and I had an experience (albeit a crummy one). That’s what this whole 101 experiment is about: trying things I have never attempted before, and seeing what results. So by my definition of the intention(s) behind the 101 list, I definitely did #13. As for the first question: If a well-organized, interesting mob was planned by a person (or group) that I trust to yield positive results [i.e., a friend that I know is a planner and has a large social network, or an organization that has focused, committed resources to ensuring a successful mob], then I would probably give #13 one more shot. But if another seemingly ‘casual’ invite comes along, I’ll probably pass. One Sluggish Scattering is enough for me.


P.S. To end this post on a more positive note (I do try and promote joy, I swear!), below is a slide show of one demonstration that took place during the expo. A dozen or so individuals performed a three-minute-long Tai Chi segment; and one of the participants had a toddler strapped to her chest during the entire routine. Watching Tai Chi always makes me feel more calm and peaceful; but watching the sequence performed with a small child in the mix made me smile broadly. I love the thought that this young babe is getting exposure to meditative practices so early in her life. Awesome.

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About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
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9 Responses to #13: Participate in a flash mob

  1. rutheh says:

    Interesting story about the flash mob effort. The ones I have seen on youtube would inspire a person to want to at least witness the scene. I can see how the child on the woman’s front made you smile! Me, too.


  2. Carla says:

    Bummer about the flash mob. Maybe you can add to the list to organize your own and do it the way you envision! Yay for the Tai Chi and the time with your friend! 🙂


    • Stef says:

      Organizing my own flash mob is an idea… I typically am the leader/planner/responsible one in most facets of my life, so I really am working on following, being led – but it’s tough. But yes, yay for both tai chi and my friend – both are beautiful! 🙂


  3. I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again…

    You are super brave Stef!


    • Stef says:

      Honestly, I think I’m more curious than brave… I truly wouldn’t characterize myself as “brave” (indeed, I can run scared some times); but I am deeply curious – and I like to try new things…


  4. Touch2Touch says:

    Definitely done. You were there, you participated.
    No attachment to results! What happened, happened. Your intentions were clear.


    • Stef says:

      Judith, I appreciate your perspective on bringing me back to the intentions, and letting go of the results. (Something I can stand to do much more often.) 🙂 Thank you for that!


  5. Pingback: #27: Attend a mosque | Smile, kiddo.

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