Confession: I’ve been mopey all last week. I was miserable, lost, and cynical. I sat at my computer reminiscing about how back at Harvard we had this annual charity flower sale, Flowers for Change. Back then, I embraced Valentine’s Day, while single. I saw it as a day that celebrated all kinds of love. For some reason, I just couldn’t see it that way this year.
Shruti, my classmate, saw that I’d posted about Flowers for Change, and gchatted me and asked, “do you want to do this flower sale at Booth?” Mind you, this was last Tuesday. Valentine’s Day fell on a Monday. It was bound to be a logistical nightmare, given that FedEx only delivered on Friday and Monday – Friday it would have to be. I had a lot of homework, and I already was going to miss out on several parties this weekend. What if it just makes me out to be a bigger weirdo, because this kind of activity, this spirit, doesn’t fit in the context of the MBA experience? I imagined that people would laugh at me for being all cute and idealistic. Then a little voice inside me shouted, Just do it, Shang! If you don’t think anyone else would do this, then be the change you want to see.
I quickly ran the numbers in Excel to find our break-even point, and how many hours of sleep I’d lose… A flurry of emails secured us space to sell during lunch and an appropriate charity to which we’d donate proceeds. I created a Google Doc form to take online orders, and hit the Buy button on an online flower website. When the flowers arrived, I ran around like a headless chicken preparing, cutting the stems and getting rid of extra leaves, storing them in buckets in my bathtub and fridge to make sure that they’d stay alive, printing the gift tags… while still trying to complete my homework. I just prayed that the flowers wouldn’t die by Monday – again, Valentine’s Day was just bad timing this year. This was my bathtub!
So how’d it go? “Unofficial Booth Valentine Charity Flower Sale” was a success! The response was extremely positive – we even sold out of roses before Monday arrived. Some people were a little suspicious – You’re not doing this for a class / this is not a graded project? But for whom would I buy a flower if I’m single? [oh dear, so many people!] You’re not making money off of this? Really, just because? However, those thoughts were in the minority and most people thought it was cute – including one of our deans, who walked by as we were prepping in the morning!
Nothing made me happier than to see this – my school’s mailboxes, decked out:
It was in doing this that I was able to get back to what I’d loved about Valentine’s Day. Beyond the Hallmark commercialism, it’s a day that celebrates what makes us all human – our ability to love and care for one another, even when it doesn’t make sense. Love is meant to grow us, and sometimes there will be a lot of pain along the way, but as my clients tell me, it’s worth it.
Here’s my upcoming travel schedule:
Feb 18 – 23 – Las Vegas
Mar 19 – 27 – Boston
Apr 29 – May 1 – Boston
May 13 – 15 – Ann Arbor
May 20 – 22 – Boston
Jun 11 – The long-awaited return to Boston for the summer!
Shang Chen Photography has rebranded to Saavedra Photography
Based in NYC | Open for select photography commissions on Sundays only