Dreams, Doing Things, and Memories – Thoughts on Living a Remarkable Life
I spent the July 4th weekend in the hipster capital of the world, Portland, Oregon, to attend the so-called World Domination Summit (WDS). The what? Yeah, it’s a sightly audacious name that brings up thoughts of Pinky and the Brain or Dr. Evil.
For those of you who might be unfamiliar with WDS, it’s an unconventional conference of bloggers, entrepreneurs, globe trotters, artists, agents of social change, and desk jockey’s looking to break away. Or, as I see it, it’s basically a bunch of people who are doing something a little different in life (or want to). Something awesome, something memorable.
WDS is now in it’s third year, and was started by Chris Guillebeau of the Art of Non Conformity, someone whose work I’ve been following for a number of years. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I signed up for it many months ago… And I wasn’t coming into it with any specific set of expectations. Mostly I just thought it might be a cool way to connect with more like minded individuals.
The central question of WDS is “How can we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?” A variety of speakers from different backgrounds and perspectives tackled this question. Each offered up some great nuggets of wisdom, certainly too much to share in a single blog post, and some things really resonated with me and will continue to provide food for thought in the coming months.
The biggest overarching message that I gathered from the official presentations was a call to arms, encouraging people to shake off their complacency and routine, and start something or do something different–whatever it is they truly wanted/want to do. The event seemed to mean different things to different people… Some had attended WDS in previous years, some were already on the path to location independence or starting their own business, and others, of course, were still looking to begin.
But regardless of where people were in their personal journey, there was one statement I kept hearing among all the attendees, which was one of absolute appreciation for an event like this that brings so many passionate, interesting, creative, and out of the box thinkers together in one room–and that the true value was being able to connect one-on-one with their fellow attendees, even more so than the official presentation itself. WDS simply would not have the same impact if it were a webcast or were regurgitated into book format. I even heard from more than one repeat WDS attendee, that this event is the highlight of their year…
So why is a short weekend event such as this a high point for so many people? In my mind it simply comes down to Doing Things. Every single attendee is an active participant and is playing an active role–try as hard as you might, you can’t leave there just being a passive observer as you could with a webcast, reading a book, or surfing the web. You probably traveled to get there, you might be in an unfamiliar city, you’re meeting all sorts of new people, getting out of your comfort zone, and having conversations that you probably don’t have on a day to day basis. Oh, and perhaps even doing things like setting a world record for the longest floating human chain (yes, we did that).
Doing Things Makes Memories
Experiences. These are the things that create memories and lasting impressions that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives. We all know that spending our money cultivating experiences versus accumulating things is a much wiser way of spending our hard earned money.
Yet too many of us spend large chunks of our money buying stuff, and large chunks of our time living vicariously through others… Spending hours watching TV and movies, getting sucked into the rabbit hole of inane YouTube videos, constantly refreshing our Facebook or Twitter feeds, or just aimlessly surfing the web. But here’s the thing, I don’t think any of us are going to say when faced with the end of our lives “If only I had spent more time surfing the web, instead of learning how to surf…”
Dreams For Someday
We’ve all got those random dreams and notions that float around in our heads… Some passing and some persistent. To quote the awesome short film 35, “We all have dreams, but they don’t mean much if we don’t act on them, if we put them in a drawer we label “Someday,” for when we think we’ll have more time.”
All of us make up great excuses for inaction. I don’t have enough money, time, connections, resources, skill, knowledge, or fill in the _____. But the thing is there are countless examples of people who were in the same boat or didn’t even have a boat and yet they were able to go and do amazing things… Build amazing companies, start a movement, travel the globe, climb mountains deemed impossible, raise crazy amounts of money to help people around the globe, and much more.
Man, I’d love to someday climb El Cap. I’ve got all sorts of excuses why *I* couldn’t do it. The Gimp Monkeys put up the first “all disabled” (missing limbs) ascent of this 3,000+ foot granite monolith, and they asked “what’s your excuse?” Good question.
To paraphrase Darren Rowse at WDS: “At the end of our journey in life, we don’t want to say, ‘Man, I had some great dreams.’”
“People don’t realize that the future is just now, but later.” – Russell Brand
There are all sorts of cliches out there about living in the now, being present, and enjoying or making every single day count. But here’s the thing… They are true. Whether you die tomorrow or 60 years from now. What’s the difference if you never truly lived? Never took risks, put yourself out there, and tried to do whatever you truly wanted to do… How many of us are going to have the same regrets as the Top Five Regrets of the Dying?
Memories are great to have. Dreams are meant to inspire. But we can’t live in just the past or future. That one step you take today could change the entire trajectory of your life, and lead you down a trail that you never even knew was there when you started.
All we truly have is this moment and this day. So do something with it.
- Check out Chris’ recap of WDS on his blog.
- His books the Art of Non Conformity and the $100 Startup have certainly played a role in shaping my world view.
Image courtesy of Armosa Studios
I'm a former Washington DC based desk jockey who left behind the working world for a year-long dirtbag climbing trip during 2013... I'm an ultralight backpacker, a mediocre climber of both rock and ice, and a lover of larger alpine climbs and big mountains.