I was the one in the owl costume.

If you attended our fall 2018 MNovation conference, you probably noticed the avian trio strutting around the conference center and down Hennepin Ave. They were a lovely bunch. Well, some of them. There was the duck. A fuzzy yellow friend with a bill large enough to welcome every attendee to the event. There was the turkey. A timely fellow with playful colors and a comically oval head. And then there was me. The nightmarish figure looming behind. You probably noticed me from that recurring trauma dream you have. I wasn’t quite as lovely.

Despite my physical shortcomings, the conference was wonderful for an owl. You see, while the guests listened to panelists and took part in improv exercises, I observed. Perched atop an unseen precipice, I gazed down at the ants below. The VPs and founders. The education pros and innovation gurus. I was in awe. So much success. Yet, so much potential.

Intermittently, I would swoop down to catch a glimpse of the subjects in action. Echoes of “Yes, and…” penetrated my hypersensitive ear canals. But I smiled. I smiled my little owley smile because I knew what was happening.  I knew that transformation was taking place. And not the transformation I’m used to.

Unfortunately for my appetite, I did not witness ecological transformation. There were no tadpoles and even fewer frogs. What I did see, however, was joy. Pure, uninterrupted joy. Laughter like a crow’s cackle. Smiles as wide as my favorite roosting branch. People walking with intention like a hawk in pursuit of an unassuming mouse. It was beautiful.

As sure as I am that my favorite food is rodent, this conference was something special. It wasn’t a business meeting. It wasn’t a comedy show. It was both. And none at all. It was the perfect mix of everything. Sorry, I tend to get philosophical when I’m hungry.

Somebody get me a rat.