I was in a parade on New Year’s Day.
I didn’t have to sign up, rehearse, arrive early, or even let the organizers know I was arriving at all.
All I had to do was park, get out of my car, and walk down to the end of a very well-manicured street. As I approached, a little girl came up to me and gave me a triangle shaped piece of fabric to wrap around my dog’s neck.
“Here, put this on your dog and walk behind me,” she said.
I took the fabric, smiled, and said, “Sure.”
Within a few minutes a man with a bullhorn introduced the queen of the parade. She was elderly and wearing a sequin shirt, silver hat, and shiny smile. The man thanked everyone for coming, told us this was the 19th year of the parade, and explained how there really isn’t any organization to it...we just walk down to the end of the street.
The distance appeared less than a city block. Only balloons marked our path, for spectators aren’t allowed. The man says it’s more fun to be in a parade than to watch one, so everyone is expected to participate.
“Alright! Let’s get going!” The man announces.
Halfway down, we’re stopped. Apparently a fire truck was supposed to join, but only just arrived. The man looks excited, thrilled even, and tells the firefighter driving to turn left, flash some lights and we’ll all follow in behind.
The parade ends in front of the man’s house, where a small tent is set up with coffee, sandwiches, and donuts. Everyone is invited to trample his front lawn. His house looks like something straight out of Better Homes and Gardens, backed against San Diego bay and overlooking dozens of sailboats. I briefly feel like I’ve party crashed someone’s family picnic in the Hamptons.
It was the most stupid fun I’ve had in years. It made no sense. There was no real purpose to it. I didn’t make any new friends, even though I made plenty of small talk. It didn’t raise money for charity, or an awareness for a cause. It was simply walking down a street with my dog and a couple hundred balloons.
The man's name is Bob Goff.
He rose to fame when Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, mentioned him in his more recent book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Since then, Bob has written his own bestseller, Love Does. Based on the books, Bob is crazy. In a good way. He’s the person we all wish we could be, who saved thousands of kids from illegal incarceration in Uganda and then makes friends with the guy who invented the frappuccino for Starbucks.
He also started an annual parade 19 years ago because his kids were bored.
I know we’re not supposed to compare ourselves to other people, but reading about Bob’s life, you can’t help it. He DOES things. He loves on people in a way that seems exhausting and impossible to do.
Yet, attending his parade, I feel like I saw a glimpse at how he does it.
His parade wasn’t perfect.
He didn’t stress, or seem to care at all how it went, who showed up, or if we even looked like a parade. The only prep work involved seemed to be a city permit, a couple hundred balloons, and a small table of food.
When I throw parties or BBQs, I manage to suck all the fun out of it by worrying over the details and making sure everything is just so. Perfection is lovely every once in a while, but the stress of it keeps me from doing more.
Any time I think I want to host something, do something, or start something, a list of everything that something will entail fills my head, exhausts me, and talks me out of doing it. My worry over the details stops me before I even get started.
If I’m going to do something, I want to do it right. That’s what that say don’t they? Anything worth doing is worth doing perfectly, is it not?
Maybe. But maybe I’ve got what is right and perfect all wrong.
Maybe right is making a way for people to come together and have fun. Maybe perfect is people feeling loved simply because they’re invited.
Maybe it’s easier to make room for others, when we first make room for ourselves.
Bob didn’t seem to care if you thought his parade was an unorganized hot mess. And since he didn’t care, I didn’t care.
I simply put a scarf on my dog and enjoyed the view.