A few weeks ago a group of us got together to brainstorm ways to reach out to people who struggle with isolation and depression. Someone mentioned that sometimes, late at night, when some of her friends are struggling the most, they will go sit at a 24 hour coffee shop . . . simply to be around other people . . . . . So I thought . . . Why don’t we start there? And the Midnight Drawing Circle was born . . . . .
We chose Monday at midnight because Monday nights can really suck . . . and there tends to be more socializing and support on the weekends. So four of us, art supplies in hand, went to Epoch Coffee having no idea what to expect. The place was buzzing with public solitude . . . roomfuls of people absorbed in laptops and private worlds . . . . . there was something “all business” in the atmosphere . . . the gravity of screen absorption . . . inertia of isolated concentration preventing an easy breathing of presence and spontaneous 3D flow . . . interesting . . . . . very different from my meandering middle of the night coffee experiences 30 years ago . . . . .
We found a spot . . . picked our paper and pens / pencils . . . and started drawing . . . . . we drew . . . and talked . . . and drew . . . . . we talked about our lives . . . about our own experiences with depression and isolation . . . we talked about ways to reach out . . . we shared our drawings and our drawing processes . . . we laughed about a bunch of stuff . . . we learned about each other . . . . .
A couple days later I started a Meetup group and was surprised at the wonderful response to this strange idea . . . . .
The next Monday my friends couldnt make it so I was on my own to see who would actually show up of the 22 people who had RSVPed through Meetup . . . . .
June 25 . . . Nine total strangers meet at Epoch Coffee at midnight . . . . .
I arrived a little early and talked with the Barista . . . a couple friends of mine who need their sleep but wanted to support this idea had donated money to buy us a round of drinks . . . so I made little drink tickets to hand out and gave the Barista my credit card and instructions to put the drink ticket drinks on my tab . . . the Barista thanked me for bringing our circle to Epoch and comped my hibiscus tea . . . Thanks Epoch!
. . . the place was busy and I struggled to find a spot where all of us might fit . . . I didnt know how many people would actually show up . . . generally they say to count on about half of the people who RSVP . . . we had 22 RSVPs, but because of the strange hour, I simply didn’t know . . . . . I finally settled on a spot at a big U-shaped table with a few spots open . . . figuring we could expand as needed . . . when I sat down there were five people working on laptops . . . that quickly dwindled to two as more people arrived and we sort of took over the whole U . . . one guy sat among us with his laptop and headphones the whole time . . . I considered offering him a drink ticket but he never looked up . . . . .
. . . the first person who approached me was Mashure, a world traveling tech nomad from Bangalore . . . he had actually been sitting next to the four of us the previous week . . . and when I arrived he was sitting in the same spot . . . he said he spends all night at Epoch . . . he’s enthusiastic and thoughtful and funny and instantly became our Mascot . . . . .
. . . more people arrived . . . each with their own drawing tools and perspectives and insights and senses of humor . . . . . the discussion was lively and interesting and funny . . . with flashes of insight into our individual struggles and processes . . . . . we talked about all sorts of things . . . social work, Indian temples, the Creationist Museum in Kentucky, uprooting out of a life of unhappy comfort into hopeful discomfort . . . . .
. . . as different as we each were . . . there was a sort of kindred vibration . . . creative nightbirds . . . . .
. . . many enthusiastically said they would be back . . . . . I don’t know what next Monday will bring . . . but I’ll definitely be there . . . . .