No this website is not quite ready for Primetime, but I really felt compelled to share my WDS 2015 Homepage (AKA Cry-Fest) experience while it was still fresh in my mind. The event actually inspired me to move forward with this site which has been on hold for almost 8 years!
Back to WDS 2015. I honestly cannot remember the last time I cried so much at a conference; unless you count that one time I attempted to learn “SOQL Programming” at a SalesForce conference, but those were tears of frustration. No, this year was filled with shared tragedies, inspirational stories and A-HA moments. Moments that screamed Take On Me stronger than the Norwegian pop bands 1985 video ever did; although it was a very cool video.
Early during the event I had a flash back moment to a small television in my childhood home. it was 1982, I was twelve and I was alone watching a made for TV version of Oliver Twist. When Oliver asks the cook, “please sir may I have some more”, I started crying. What? Where did that come from? I was overweight and eating a bowl of popcorn as I watched, so it wasn’t like I could relate to his lack of food. So why was I crying. And could anyone here me? I was almost a teenager, definitely not good for my non-existent “street-cred.” But I cried. Something in that moment effected me. Although grammarians may say I was affected; I never get that right.
Over the years I have experienced several other odd crying moments. Sometimes during movies. Occasionally from a TV program. Often when reading books; and lately when listening to books via bluetooth in my motorcycle helmet. This can be really awkward. For example, the tears were flowing, when I was riding home from WDS listening to BREAKFAST WITH BUDDHA. A biker crying does little for my tough guy adventure rider persona! Thank you very much Roland Merullo. I have a Kleenex bill with your name on it!
Kidding aside, as I attended WDS this year I found myself moved to tears multiple times. It was not just by the sad moments, but more specifically it was the speaker rising up from their sad moments. When the speaker triumphed, or at least moved forward instead of giving up. These moments made me cry. They inspired me to keep going.
Many speakers spoke of loss. Some occurring very recently. This hit me hard. I have been wandering in loss for almost 3 years. In 2012 my dad and I rode our motorcycles on a 3000 mile West Coast adventure. Days later when he returned to Connecticut, a careless driver neglected to see him riding home from the grocery store. The driver pulled a fast u-turn, totaling my dad’s motorcycle and killing him. Motorcycles brought us together after being largely estranged for most of my younger years. Losing him in this way was almost more than I could take.
I was devastated. I knew I was not alone, but I also did not know how to share my pain. I cried a lot. It would be a year before I could focus enough to start functioning again. When I felt, mostly, ready I took 2 months, my dad’s other motorcycle and his ashes, and rode 10,000 miles across the United States; including a 100% off-road route from Tennessee to Oregon. It was a way for me to continue to connect with my dad. It was also an attempt to seek a new trail for my life. A year later I quit my job. And another year later I attended my first WDS.
It was my Oliver moment. Oliver was hungry, but it was more than a lack of food. He wanted “more.” More than the life he was living. I realize now that what I my 12 year old self wanted was “more.” I just didn’t know it then, or at least I couldn’t make the connection. I got a taste of it riding across the country mourning the loss of my dad. But it was at WDS that I realized, I cry when I witness genuine moments of clarity. When inspiration touches something in me so primal that I find no other way to release it.
When Jon Acuff told me to look for more Seagulls and less Lobsters, I cried. When Jeremy Coward shared stories of people being photographed with their families killers, after forgiving them, I cried. When WDS ended and the sound system blasted the Journey song, “Don’t Stop Believing” I cried. Perhaps because I was inspired, or perhaps because it reminded me of when Tracy Hall, wouldn’t except my couples-skate proposal at Great Skate in Junior High. Either way. I cried. I felt something. But it was’t sadness. It was the feeling of being alive and wanting to offer more of myself to the world.
Community, Service and Adventure. The mantra of WDS. It has always been coursing through my veins but I have never been sure how to combine them regularly into my life. My goal through 2015 and into 2016 is to intellectualize less and look for more visceral reactions to my own ideas. I do not want to have to walk around with a box of tissues all the time, but I do want to feel more in everything I do.
Will I return to WDS 2016? Absolutely. I have already purchased my ticket and a box of tissues; but the real work starts now. Everyday I am committed to taking action. Pushing myself to feel. Letting myself imagination take me to places I have feared in the past. I plan to return in 2016, to hear even more stories of triumph and hopefully to share some of my own.
Thank you to Chris Guillebeau for bringing together all of the wonderful attendees, ambassadors and core team that make WDS such a special event!
For anyone who know me as Adventure Hermit, (http://adventurehermit.com, @adventurehermit). I will continue to share my motorcycle adventures in this space. However, I plan on putting my daily efforts into SomeIsEnough. I would love to stay in touch and continue to make each other cry, in a good way. Please consider connecting with me at joe@SomeIsEnough.com or on Twitter at @SomeIsEnough.