It’s all I can think about. It’s been a long time since I was so excited for an event. I’ve been obsessing over reviews from people who have previously been to this. I’m carefully pricing flights and hotels looking for the best deals. I’m seeking out things to do and places to go while I’m there. The anticipation is already reaching a fever pitch, but this thing is still SIX MONTHS AWAY!
In the Prologue and Chapter 1 of entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau’s 2014 book, The Happiness of Pursuit, he states “people have always been captivated by quests.” Whether it’s following Odysseus in The Odyssey or watching Forrest Gump’s life travails, reading about or watching an adventure is usually high on everyone’s list. However, due to life’s circumstances at the time, being able to actually take part in such an adventure may not be easily executed. So, when the timing is right, it’s important to pounce on the opportunity.
For me, that quest is to find out what I’m truly made of. In my 41 years of existence, what have I really learned? What exactly are the gifts that God has bestowed upon me? More importantly, how can I use those gifts to serve others and society and maybe even make the world a better place?
In the last year, since my separation and divorce, questions like these have been organically circulating around in my brain. Many pessimists would view divorce as a major lifetime setback, but now that I’m on my own, I have taken this whole scenario as an opportunity. I know that I am a good person with good intentions and good ideas. But I haven’t been able to figure out how to take that attitude up a few notches into action. So, this seemed like a perfect time to recalibrate my life and try to figure out what may be my calling or my true mission.
Which brings me back to the event that I’m obsessing over. The previously aforementioned Guillebeau hosts a gathering of 3,000 entrepreneurs, thinkers and dreamers every July in Portland, OR called the World Domination Summit (or WDS). It’s really not about world domination in the military sense, but it’s more about letting go of long-standing ideas that hold people back and embracing ones that can lead to the belief that one can take over the planet. I was turned on to his ideas of (as he states it) “living a remarkable life in a conventional world” ever since I read his first book, The Art of Non-Conformity. I was filled with great joy to learn that WDS existed to provide an opportunity to interact with others who share the same ideas and vision that I had!
So, I took a leap. In true “Ready, Fire, Aim” fashion, I ponied up the somewhat hefty registration fee for WDS before I had an opportunity to talk myself out of it. I’ve never done anything impulsive like that before—especially when it came to doing something for myself. I’ve never been to Portland, much less to WDS. It was only after I signed up when I actually started researching what I got myself into. And that actually got me even more excited!
Online, I read review after review on various blogs about last year’s WDS. There were inspirational speakers. There were large group and small group meet-ups. There were scavenger hunts. There was a hot air balloon flight. There was a Guinness World Record set by the participants. There were food trucks. There was a lot of tweeting. There was a river cruise. There were friendships being formed. There were no corporate sponsorships. There were just tons of like-minded individuals all in one place trying to embrace continuous improvement, adventure, and service. And every bit of this appealed to me! And that was just the actual conference, not to mention all the socialization occurring outside of the sessions.
Among the reviews and blogs about WDS, there was a common theme: the people you meet there are what actually made the event. That’s great, because I really do need more people in my life right now. But, not just people. I want to meet people who are either like me in my current state or once like me in a former state. And, as I mentioned before, my current state is that of confusion about what I bring to the table as a human being and then figuring out what my place is in this world. These are the people with whom I’ll be able to share stories, setbacks, and dreams. It seems like this event can kick-start the next phase of my post-divorce life.
Granted, I already think I have a really great life. I have an outstanding 12-year old son who is intelligent, well mannered, and a joy to be around. I have a terrific job, teaching math, and I am involved in the atmosphere and community of a well- respected high school with colleagues I admire. I have a very good handle on my budget so I don’t waste my financial resources. Lastly, my divorce was very amicable, so the stresses of that experience do not weigh me down.
Mentally, I am actually in a very good place right now. Which is why I think this is the perfect time to surround myself with people who can take me to the next level. I’m not going to WDS to instigate a life change or to solve some personal crisis. I’ve already been through that in the last year, as I became a single father. What I want to get out of going to Portland is to figure out how I best can utilize this situation I’ve been given, and how I can make the most of it for myself and others.
This is why I’m so obsessed about it right now even though it’s six months away! Just the thought of being able to redirect my life is thrilling, to say the least. Of course, like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz,” I’m sure that I’ve had the power to redirect my life all along. But, in this setting at WDS, I will be surrounded with people who have done it already or in the process of doing it themselves, so they can help me navigate those waters better than what I could alone.In that vein, I’m also trying to figure out how I can put myself into situations where I can best interact with as many great individuals as possible. So, when I’ve been pricing flights, I’m not only looking for inexpensive ones, but also ones that get me in a little early and to stay a little later before and after WDS so that I can increase interaction with others and gain even more perspectives as well.
And lastly (and strangely enough), I believe the centerpiece of this ensuing personal renaissance will be the hotel I have chosen to stay in: McMenamin’s Crystal Hotel.
Look at this place:
This is WAY outside the box for me. First of all, there are shared bathrooms on each floor. I haven’t seen that since college! The Crystal Hotel is located across the street from the legendary Crystal Ballroom, which has hosted thousands of acts since the 1960’s including the Grateful Dead, James Brown, and Marvin Gaye. The connection between the two venues is that the theme of each of the hotel rooms is based on one of the acts that played the Ballroom, so the hotel definitely has a hipster vibe. This is a far cry from the Marriotts, Hyatts and Drurys that I’m used to!
I actually had my chance to book a more conventional hotel in downtown Portland within walking distance from the venue where WDS will take place. However, this hotel is only a few blocks farther away from those hotels, but for about ONE-THIRD of the price. So, I guess I can live without my own personal bathroom for the better part of a week. Plus, those other hotels don’t have this:
They call it the soaking pool. It’s essentially a huge saltwater hot tub located below ground in the basement of the Crystal Hotel. Many reviewers on Yelp and TripAdvisor call this the highlight of the hotel because after a long day of doing touristy activities in Portland, it’s good to be able to soak your weary bones right before bed.
So, you want to talk about opportunities to meet some really interesting people? It’s safe to say that his hotel will definitely provide me with those chances!
I’m pumped about going to WDS 2015. I’ve read and researched a ton of information to make this the best experience ever. But I need to stop.
Just like anything else, moderation has its advantages. That’s why I need to quit trying to plan everything out from this moment forward. Since this is a quest for me to find out what I’m capable of, that part will emerge at some point on the trip. However, I cannot plan for that. All I can do is set the stage for it to happen. I think I’ve done that by signing up for WDS, selecting the flights to and from Portland I’ve selected, and staying at the hipster hotel where I’ve registered.
I am a huge planner, but now I have to force myself NOT to plan the rest. I have to let go and just let the rest happen. And it will probably be those unscripted memories on this quest that will be the ones that last a lifetime.