I almost didn’t return to the World Domination Summit this year. Last year, the first time I went, was inspiring enough for me to buy my 2015 ticket before the event was even over, but a couple months before WDS was to explode again, I was searching the interwebs for people who wanted to buy a last minute ticket.
Now, WDS is an astounding event. It’s like my high school summer leadership camp where you enter a neon colored utopia for a few days where every single person is smart and friendly and is doing (or wants to do) something big and interesting with their lives, and where the air smells of candy coated gingerbread wherever you go and you come out of it wanting to high five every blasted soul you come across and you walk around with a full-body orgasm that screams I’M GOING TO CHANGE THE WORLD!!! C’MON WHO’S WITH ME?? LET’S GO CHANGE THE WORLD!!!
Which is all really great stuff. Rare, inspiring, truly life-changing, makes you want to pump your fists in the air and take up belly dancing kind of stuff.
But stuff I just wasn’t up for. As I daydreamed about the upcoming WDS, instead of getting excited I was getting exhausted. My lips twitched in anticipation of the non-stop conversating – conversating isn’t a word? It should be – I’d be doing for back-to-back days. My cheeks and neck showed signs of preemptive soreness from all the smiling and nodding that would surely ensue from the rock star speakers and all the other smiling, nodding attendees. I was starting to dread all the positivity.
Which probably says a lot more about me than about WDS. Here’s this chocolate-covered gold palace magic land where the speakers are brilliant but still genuine, the attendees are ambitious but not anal, and you can collectively align your chakras by morning, learn how to effectively launch your own passion project by day and bust out dem Bollywood dance moves after hugging a rainbow by night. But I wasn’t feeling it.
Maybe it’s because after the not-so-happy places I’ve been this past year (more on those soon) I just wasn’t ready for so much happy all in one place, all at one time. Or perhaps the reality that quitting my non-profit management career in October had not yet resulted in a fabulous life of international travel by private jet and millions of copies sold of my yet-to-be-written book left me terrified of The Question: “So, what do you do?”
I thank the wifi-less cabin at Camp Mokule'ia on Oahu’s North Shore for making me miss the ticket transfer deadline which consequently sealed the deal for me going to the magic land. Due to the absence of radio waves pulsating throughout my body, I was able to find and rediscover more lessons at WDS this year:
You Know That Thing You’ve Been Planning on Doing for Years or That Idea You Just Thought of While Peeing, Yeah Just Do It. No Really, Just Start Already.
Jadah Sellner punched me in the stomach with love dust last year when she urged us to take imperfect action (this was after giving me chills and ballooning up my heart with her raw, beautiful poem). Derek Sivers showed us the difference between the schmuck (“Hey, want to invest a million dollars into my high-tech music recommendation software platform that doesn't actually do anything yet?”) and the champ that simply starts doing what he’s set out to do (“Dude check out Skinny Puppy”) (quotes are not actual quotes from Derek).
In this vein, I took action on a random idea I had at 3am the night before my flight to Portland: There will be awesome people at WDS + I’ve been wanting to try writing poetry and stories on demand for a while + I have a huge honkin’ phone with a fancy schmancy stylus = 2015 Unofficial WDS Yearbook, where I take people’s photos and write up a quick story, insight or quote from them.
Did I do it consistently? Nope, I talked to amazing humans who I did get to do a yearbook photo/story on, and others who I didn't get to. I think I also stopped doing them completely starting Friday night because of the twitching lips and sore cheeks and overall sleep deprivation.
Did I become the next Humans of New York guy (gal) overnight? Nuh uh.
But did I turn a little idea into a real, visual thing; talk with a ton of creative and wise and adventurous people; and relight an *old passion?: Damn straight. *for any other handlettering nerds out there, check out Sean Wes.
Witty Genius Wisdom Bombs Not Necessary for Tickle Your Heart Connections
I've never mastered the art of chit-chat, real or perceived. But leading up to WDS, I reminded myself that there’s nothing wrong with a little conversation warm-up. Just as light jumping jacks help me work up to insane P90X plyo push-ups (thanks a lot, Tony Horton), a simple mundane question can work itself into a deeper conversation. Here’s just a small sampling of the mediocre at best, dumbass at worst, things that escaped from my mouth at WDS and the gems they turned into:
“Ugh, it’s hot in there huh?” – I adore Jonathan Fields, but by the last ten minutes of his Academy on Thursday, I felt like a cat that jumped into a cardboard box to play but then couldn’t get out. And so couldn’t breathe. The woman in the aqua dress outside the auditorium nodded and invited me to sit with her, or perhaps I just invited myself into her seating area. From there, within fifteen minutes I had opened up to her about my sporadic struggles with jealousy, she had shared some beautiful stories of non-possessive love, and brought up a question I must remember to ask myself on the regular: What makes your heart sing?
“Hey, did you get that backpack last year?” – I already knew the answer because I and the 2,498 other people in attendance last year had. But that small, obvious question led to this initial stranger putting down his iPhone, looking up with a friendly smile, and us hanging out for an hour like good friends catching up after years had passed. We discovered we both love to write and try our hand at poetry. I got to feel like a kid eating an ice cream drumstick while playing hopscotch as I listened to his children’s book story idea. A brand new friend that already felt like an old friend (in the best of ways), and all it took was me asking a dumb question.
"Love Fiercely and Intensely"
Jeremy Cowart, Lewis Howes, Megan Devine and Chris Guillebeau all shared very intimate and painful experiences they have went or are going through. You wouldn’t know it just by looking at them. You wouldn’t know it just by looking at me. And I wouldn’t know it just by looking at you. We all have, or are, or will face the not-so-happy places from time to time.
But whether we’re close or far to those places, it’s good to know that there’s this chocolate-covered gold palace magic land we can always go to, together. A magic land where inspiration is the norm, vulnerability is bravery, love is given by way of high fives and booty shakin' is all but mandatory.
Hope to see you there next year!