Last weekend Melissa and I went to Camp Mighty in Palm Springs CA. It was fun meeting people I’ve only known through their blogs: Heather Armstrong, Jon Armstrong, Alice Bradley, Maggie Mason. It was also very cool to meet some new faces: Cecily Kellogg, Margit Detweiler and many more. As great as they are, meeting well known digital personalities was kinda far down my agenda. I really wanted to go because of the Life List activity.
A life list is very much like a bucket list save for the depressing POV. Like I said at our team lunch, “the only lists I’ve ever maintained throughout my life were lists of possible band names.” Creating a list of fabulous things I’d like to see/accomplish/experience never really occurred to me. I could be wrong, but I doubt many men have ever created a life list. From the beginning of time we are primarily programmed to slay the dragon and make the donuts.
While the suggestion was to write 100 items, I was only able to get to 75 by the time Camp came around. I wrote them all on my iPhone while riding BART to work. The process of writing the list, regardless of how long it actually took me, was very meaningful to me.
At first, things that were top of mind starting flowing out. As I kept going, I really started to think more seriously about the world and the people that matter to me. I also started to wonder if there were limits to what I could affect. Would it be possible to set up a charity for the arts? Would it be possible to travel to exotic locations? Or meet certain people? As I kept searching my mind, I just kept adding everything to the list and fought the urge to dismiss anything. It was a form of creative brainstorming, so the more I thought “yes and” instead of “no”, the more I surprised myself with the ideas that came to mind.
I’m used to brainstorming at work on a client’s behalf, but
rarely never have I done this for myself. The feeling was very liberating and brought me into the moment like very few things I’ve experienced before.
Once I stopped writing the list, I didn’t rearrange or edit it. Why bother? I didn’t want to rethink things. My list is how it flowed from my mind. I did re-read it after arriving at the hotel, and honestly, I was very happy with myself. For someone who isn’t a type-A personality, this list seemed immense, but doable on many levels. It also helped me, as a person who’s had a long history of dealing with depression, to look at life with a strong positive attitude.
At the final event (a team dinner), everyone was given a parting gift. The “boys”—as they called us—received these wristbands that had 5 little metal rings on it. Each represented one of the 5 life list items we committed to check off in the next year. I won’t take this thing off until the next time Camp Mighty rolls around next year. It’s highly motivational, and it makes me feel good just looking at it.
Thank you, Camp Mighty, for inspiring me and helping me see my life in a new way.