I always assumed there would be some point in my life where I finally felt grown up. When I reached that age, I would no longer feel the need to jump in puddles, or giggle at fart jokes, or build pillow forts. I would read nothing but Serious Literature and I would know what kind of wine to drink with what kind of meat and I would dust my house on a regular basis.
Well, I’m 33 years old now, and I don’t think that point is ever going to come.
Frankly? I’m thrilled.
Oh, I’ve learned to manage my life now in a way that would have stymied 17-year-old me. I can get almost any stain out of clothes, I can manage a budget, and I can kill the spiders in the shower. (Seriously, spiders? I’ll rescue you if you’re in the house, but if you’re in the shower, I’m going to drown you without mercy. You cannot live in places where I am naked.) Nevertheless, I haven’t lost the childlike joy in simple pleasures, and I’m not above making a fool out of myself in the name of fun.
GISHWHES, which stands for “Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen,” is a world-record-breaking scavenger hunt hosted by Misha Collins. Teams “scavenge” items by photographing or videotaping scenarios on the 150+ item list, which is posted on the first day of the week-long hunt. Past items include the artistic (A portrait of Chris Hardwick from the Nerdist made entirely of dried fruit), the kind (You and a friend seated side-by-side, donating blood or platelets), the difficult (You, dressed as the Flash, in any actual, operational particle accelerator), and the absurd (Attend a ballet or “spinning” class in full SCUBA gear). The winning team of 15 is taken on some amazing trip – this year’s winners will fly to King’s Landing in Croatia for a pirate sailing adventure.
When I participated in GISHWHES last year, I wasn’t sure what the week would be like, but from the moment I heard about it, I knew I wanted in. I had the week off from work and went absolutely crazy – I put a tank top on a rooster, dressed up as a nun on a rope swing, made an American Flag out of Redvines, folded a paper crane in a rainstorm, and, yes, visited an actual particle accelerator dressed as The Flash, among several dozen other items. My team didn’t win, but I had more fun that week than I’ve ever had in any week, ever. (It narrowly beats out my honeymoon because I spent two days of that seasick. Sorry, husband.)
What really resonated with me was the childlike exuberance of GISHWHES. Here was an event that said it was okay to break the rules of normal, to try crazy things and make the world a better place. I asked ridiculous favors of friends – and complete strangers – and they obliged me! Better yet, they had fun doing it, and they thanked me for including them. It was truly a life-changing experience.
There are hundreds of testimonials on the GISHWHES website about how it helped participants overcome social anxiety and have an impact on their families and communities. For me, GISHWHES was a reminder that growing older doesn’t have to mean growing up. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, to forget that life is full of joyous possibilities. If you’ve lost your childlike exuberance and you want to get it back, then you should consider breaking out of that rut with GISHWHES.
At the time I post this, GISHWHES registration ends in less than 2 days. Go visit the website, watch the videos, read the details, and maybe – maybe – sign up for what could be the greatest week of your life. In the words of a tweet from last year’s GISHWHES Twitter feed, “You are not who you think you are. Act accordingly.”
Update: since this post was linked by Misha Collins, a ton of you have visited. Thanks for coming, and please leave comments! I love hearing from you. Tell me about your hopes for Gishwhes or why you also never want to grow up.