What the Heck is GISHWHES?
It's been a week since the frantic, creative inanity that is GISHWHES. If you aren't aware of what GISHWHES is (or if you were fortuitous enough to not see my many potentially annoying tweets about it last week), this is it in a nutshell:
GISHWHES isn't a word. Sorry, word lovers. It isn't some new species of fish crossed with a gherkin. It's an acronym: G.I.S.H.W.H.E.S. It stands for Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. Maybe that sounds a bit arrogant or silly in a hyperbolic way, but I assure you it is the greatest. I also assure you that it is hyperbolic. In fact, the week flourishes with a healthy, giddy sense of hyperbole.
Plus, it has the Guinness Record to prove it.
As for the particulars, it is a week-long scavenger hunt of 15 team members attempting to complete a gigantic list of items (this year 155) in one impossible week. As a team, you try and complete as many as humanly possible without expiring from exhaustion or a flesh-eating, kale-inspired skin rash. Some of the items are simple, like "recreating a famous landmark out of books." Some are more challenging, like "attending a spinning class in full scuba gear." And others are downright impossible due to geographical location, such as “going to the Dali Museum in Spain wearing fake mustaches.”
Why GISHWHES Should Be as Necessary as Breathing
GISHWHES challenges you in so many ways: creatively, inter-relationally, emotionally, physically, mindfully. It forces you to create in unique ways and mediums that you'd never think of. It demands you to push yourself physically and mentally and emotionally; to be mindful and engaged in the now, in the present, on a deadline. It asks that you engage with your teammates, create relationships, communicate effectively.
For me, I love a challenge. I think it’s the very best way to live. I see GISHWHES as a representation of the challenged life I strive for. I aim for this in my work life and my personal life. I want to perpetually challenge myself to be a better writer, a strong companion, an important contributor to the value and happiness of both my life and in the lives of my family and friends.
GISHWHES provides a simple means to do good. Many of the items that we pushed ourselves to complete included acts of human kindness, such as the task of documenting 100 or more hugs (we did). Others included donating blood, entertaining a dialysis patient, giving money toward a couple in dire need, and volunteering at a soup kitchen. These tasks, however simple or complex they seemed to be, reminded me of how easy it is to create good.
GISHWHES inspires you to connect with others and engage with your community. For instance, many of the items on the list required props or access that you may not have. So you reach out and ask. Another facet of this is that it provides you with an excuse to get out of your inter-relational comfort zone. It's easy not to engage: to create our own comfortable solace. We need some of that. But we also need human connection and relationship and discourse--even when we think we don’t. We need to immerse in the world from time to time: a kind of kick in the rear that says, “don’t just observe from afar. Get out there.” It’s how we relate and value and discover perception.
GISHWHES makes you feel human: toiling, engaging, exhausting, creating, inspiring, competing, feeling, working, discovering, experiencing, interpreting.
I want all of that, all of the time. The opposite of which is stagnation. I don’t aim to stagnate. GISHWHES is a good reminder of that.
Below you'll find a few of our entries. For the all of the submissions, go here.