Recently I was in a day-long training. It was interesting, but anyone who knows me knows meetings are not my favorite thing. It’s very difficult for me to sit still for that long and to focus on any one thing. Over the years I’ve developed what I consider to be socially acceptable things to do while I’m sitting in a meeting. One of those is to doodle.
Used to be that people would look askance at you if you did anything other than stare blankly ahead. But, in the last few years, someone must have written a book about how to conduct meetings because nearly every one I go to these days is done the same way. The tables are covered with paper so you can draw on them. There are also colored markers, candy, name tags, pipe cleaners, and little baby containers of play doh.
I have nothing against any of these things – in fact I quite enjoy them. And I’m thankful whoever decided this was the way to conduct meetings has made it acceptable to be doing something other than just sitting there. What I don’t understand is why it’s always exactly the same, as if there’s just a check list to go through. I suspect it’s that everyone is going to the same meetings where they train people to do meetings. Just once I’d like someone to break the mold and do something creative. After all, all of these things are supposed to encourage creativity. Ironic, isn’t it?
It’s cool to have a big piece of paper on which to draw, but I always take my own paper with me whenever I go to a meeting, as well as a variety of pens and markers. Actually, I have these things with me almost every day at every moment. I need the visual stimulation. I was quite proud of my muted color palette on this one – very unlike me. The fact that there’s no neon pink hi-lighter involved is close to a miracle.
I have some favorite motifs I return to again and again. One of them is stars. I love stars. Not sure why, but I do. Given more time I would have filled in the spaces here with more stars of varying sizes. But it was getting hard for me to restrain myself from color so I moved on to playing with the pipe cleaners.
It’s rare that someone doesn’t comment on the writing or drawing or whatever I’m doing during the meeting. It’s not always appreciated, to say the least. I usually just say something to the effect of, “I’m quiet and I’m not being disruptive. Lets just all be thankful for that.”
I’m thankful it’s accepted these days. I just can’t get through a whole day in a room, sitting in one spot, without something else going on. It doesn’t matter how fascinating the speaker is, I’m going to need something else going on. At the same time, I really love soaking up the info you get in such meetings. Always something interesting to learn.
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