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Volunteer Report

Preparing for the Future

By Mary Beth Beckman

All good things must come to an end.

A successful life is lived on this premise. We are fleeting. There is no forever. There is only now. Denying our impermanence only hurts us, and ignoring it hurts the things and people we care about.

It is with this in mind that the core group of volunteers responsible for putting together Ballroom Blast and Dance Fest have been working on creating comprehensive position descriptions outlining the various tasks we accomplish for these wonderful events. In a lot of ways, it’s easier to do than to teach (in marked opposition to another old cliché), and in trying to write down all the minutiae of my roles, I was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer volume of what I accomplish, what I know how to do. And that feeling was followed by an intense, selfish sense of ownership that most people wouldn’t own up to.

It’s sad and scary to think of someone else filling the roles I inhabit. The idea of another registrar for Blast and Fest, of another Executive Editor of Sheer Dance, touches something delicate and raw in me. I’ve done a lot of letting go in my twenty-five years, and I’ll do a lot more before I die. But I’m not ready to let go of this yet, of dedicating my skills, energy, time, my essence, to the partner-dancing community.

I know it will have to happen. I know that I want it to happen, that if it doesn’t, it means the death of Blast, Fest, and Sheer, which is unthinkable. But these are things that have become part of my identity, and I find myself thinking, “What am I without this?”

I aim to excel in all I do, with varying degrees of success, but I am confident in the quality and necessity of my volunteerism. I also would not be anything at all without the volunteers around me. I am not an island, and my work does not have meaning without the people who contribute to Sheer, the person who makes it look beautiful, the people who give it a last look, who ensure it gets posted to the website, printed, and mailed to subscribers. I’m also nothing without the volunteers who negotiate the venues for Blast and Fest, who decorate the spaces, who manage the music, the judges, the food, and any number of little things I’d be helpless to do on my own. These other volunteers are all royalty of their own little hills, necessary experts at what they do.

I am not special.

As humans, we like to think of ourselves as unique, irreplaceable. We are all the center of our own existence, which is as it should be, but we have to be replaceable. It’s not a legacy if it ends with you, so pick a successor and make peace with moving on knowing that you have started something important that will live on. You are fleeting, but you can accomplish things that will persist, for a time, and extend your relevance.

My hope is that long after I’ve moved on from ballroom, the wheels I’ve set in motion will keep turning. And if I dig beneath the stinging pride and knee-jerk belief that I am exemplary, I hope that those who come after me do a better job than I did.

All good things….

(Yes, that’s a Star Trek reference.)