In the corporate world, men wear dress shirts and slacks, women layer in sensible business-friendly attire. One must present a professional front in which personal interests or hobbies are not shared. The details that make you unique as a person are, for the most part, kept private. To be a manager of people is to be level-headed, logical, business-savvy and, most importantly, respected. Therefore, to video yourself and your co-workers singing a five-part harmony of Fuzzy Wuzzy Was a Bear and post it on the interwebs for the masses is probably not the best corporate-savvy choice.
I blame Misha Collins. More accurately, I admire Misha and his message: for one week of the year, drop the ho-hum hum-drum folderol…leave it on the doorstep and carpe diem the hell out of life. For seven days, you and fourteen teammates take part in GISHWHES (Bless you, thank you!). If you've never heard of this before, I shall elucidate. GISHWHES: Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. Benefitting the
Random Acts charity, the point is to complete a fraction of the over 150 tasks, each meant to completely disrupt life and make people smile. GISHWHES is teamwork and sharing giggles, pulling yourself and those around you out of the mundane. Have you ever
* Made an evening dress entirely from toilet paper?
* Made an amazing Captain Picard portrait entirely from condiments?
* Imitated a famous statue?
* Driven through a drive-thru without a vehicle to order a diet water?
* Created an angel entirely out of sanitary napkins?
Try this at Starbucks-when the barista asks for your name to put on the cup, reply, "Vermithrax" (or "Sexington Hardcastle" was last year's videoed submission to GISHWHES). Wait to see how it gets read out when the drink is ready. Four out of five times, it's a snort or a chuckle.
Not only are these tasks fun to attempt, it's great to see the smiles or outright belly laughs from those around you, be they friends, family, or innocent bystander(s). The postal workers that did a conga line out the door of their post office will make for laughter for years to come. And how did your completed task make them feel? You can bet you've made their next work day together that much brighter when they joke about it later.
It's not ALL silliness. It's also key to spread love and kindness wherever possible. Hug a vet. Send flowers to the Senior Center. Dress as your favorite superhero and take tea with the children in the hospital. Get your CPR certification. Pass out roses to the folks at the bus stop. Write a haiku of appreciation to a loved one and leave it on the table for them to find. Thank a soldier for his or her service. Send soldiers overseas a box of necessities: razors, chewing gum, video games, books, letters, etc. Spend some time with an elderly family member doing something they love (painting, cooking, writing, fishing, storytelling), learn it and save it. Forgive a grudge.
Every year in our house, we anxiously await GISHWHES. We've made friends with wonderful teammates in Connecticut. On both coasts, we accomplish silliness and greatness together, and we keep up with each other on Facebook throughout the year. We know we'll never get the grand prize, but if we get one of our tasks pictured in the annual GISHWHES coffee table book or published on their Hall of Fame, we're tickled pink. It's always a stressful week, pushing to get as much done as you can, but the rewards are ten-fold. Some of the items are fairly difficult and involve a lot of coordination, like a flash mob or securing a forklift to make a flipped car spin on its roof. When you look back at each thing you and your teammates managed to complete, not only does the picture bring a smile to your face, but you really appreciate the things that friends and strangers did to help you out. Sometimes, even the friends you think won't have a spare second to help somehow manage to make time... it means a lot.
On so many levels, GISHWHES is an amazing event to take part in. Everyone needs more positive in our lives. To spread that positive feeling to others and make a smile or fun memory is a gift. What GISHWHES has taught me is to try to keep a GISHWHES frame of mind year-round. Shake things up. Of course being kind is a must, but have a little fun too. Just because you have to take your dog for a walk doesn't mean puppy can't also go down Main Street at dinnertime dressed in their best Xena Warrior Princess cosplay. Everyone wins - the dog will love the smiles and attention and main street patrons will get a laugh and a picture to share. That statue in the center of town might be getting too cold over winter. Make it a colorful Tom Baker scarf. Be bold. Have fun. Vacuum your front lawn dressed as June Cleaver. And most of all:
GISHWHES believes that “normalcy” is overrated and that true “living” can be found hidden under the rocks of community artistic creation, acts of artistic sublime public performances, and random acts of kindness. More importantly, we are all artists and have gifts for society no matter what our capabilities or talents. And most importantly, we at GISHWHES want you to know the most important thing we’ve learned in the past four years: it is almost impossible to make durable clothing from cheese.