We were sprinting for the bus with a pound of blueberries. We had two minutes. His hat was about to fly off. We were freaking out - were we going to make it? Were the berries going to wind up flying everywhere?
Probably that story would be more interesting when performed in person. Certainly it is more interesting than what I might have written if I were trying for a straightforward chronological account of our day. This is a technique we learned in our WDS academy, How to Tell Captivating Stories, by Marsha Shandur of Yes Yes Marsha.
We later found that this was the first academy to sell out, and it only took about two minutes to find out why. Marsha has a truly captivating physical presence. She immediately launched into a funny story. Then she proceeded to teach us what made it funny, something that many funny people probably could not do. She had everyone write down a boring story - our commute that morning - and methodically pick it apart and find an interesting story element in it. It was magnificent. It was also really impressive to think that each of the hundreds of people in the room had the same experience, traveling to be in that room at the same time, and yet we also had completely different experiences of that mundane task.
The secret is to talk about the emotions around the events.
Another exercise was for a member of the audience to tell a two-minute story, then have another person boil it down to thirty seconds, and then have yet another person boil it down to ten seconds. If only we could somehow magically transmit this information to select people of our acquaintance who are prone to droning monologues… The woman telling the two-minute story finished around the 90-second mark, and Marsha kept asking, “And?” The woman would add another observation with time still on the clock. “And?” Those final 30 seconds wound up being juicier than the rest of the story!
We left wishing it would have gone on forever, animated, enthralled, and captivated indeed.
At lunch, I wound up trading sandwich halves with a technical stranger. “Hey, person I met one minute ago. Do you want to share lunches?” One of those serendipitous meetings, a vegan guy trying to decide between the same two menu items I was. (Cheesesteak and Reuben, if you’re curious). See the WDS badge on someone and there’s no telling what might happen.
My husband took off in his own direction for the afternoon, a meetup on empathetic communication. We can always find each other because we set up location sharing on our phones. “I dotted you.”
Running late again, this time trying to hold the lid on a tub of coleslaw, keeping pace with a popular friend who knows everyone, bumping into people we wanted to stop and hug but MAYBE LATER! BYE!
My next academy was How to Be Everything, by Emilie Wapnick. Naturally the sandwich-trader guy went to this one too, because also How to Eat Everything. This one was aimed at multipotentialites, those of us who are passionately interested in multiple things and can’t be satisfied with one conventional career. Philistines might refer to us as indecisive dilettantes, slackers, or procrastinators. Emilie Wapnick offers the far more attractive idea that we are actually a distinct group of humans who have our own way of doing things. I read her book on this topic recently, and adored it, but being in the same room as hundreds of others of my kind was frenetically invigorating. We were laughing, we were crying, we were cheering, we were writing as fast as we could.
Wapnick herself wandered around checking in with various aisles during the exercises. Suddenly I looked up and she had come to my aisle! I just looked at her and my jaw dropped open and I started flailing my hands around. She laughed. Speechless for one of the very few moments of my life. I thanked her for changing my life today.
[not going to say specifically why yet, but you, my dear readers, may be noticing some changes around here in the near future]
Then, kismet! Everyone was reluctantly getting up to leave. I faced backward while picking up my bag, and there behind me was the one person I most wanted to see at WDS, someone I wasn’t even sure would attend. We fell into conversation so quickly that my friend left without me and I didn’t even notice.
I walked outside and my hubby was there waiting for me. I ran up to him and started jumping up and down and flailing my arms again. We had about half an hour to hang out and get some juice before going to our next meetup, trying to download our separate experiences and information in one of the brief pauses when we weren’t trying to mainline new material as fast as we could get it.
Next, a book swap. The book I brought, One Red Paperclip, went to a man who is a huge fan of the story but did not know that a book about it had ever been written. So he was stoked! I wound up falling into conversation with someone who attended my meetup from Wednesday. He showed me his drawing of where the books are stacked up all over his house, we shared about having a huge tower of books we haven’t read yet, and two minutes later we were scrolling through our phones trying to exchange book titles and podcast names as fast as we could go. “I think we’re actually the same person.”
After the book swap, we had just enough time to walk six blocks to meet my family for dinner. Phew! Switching gears from other World Dominators to people who aren’t in the loop can be challenging. How do you explain everything you’ve been doing and learning and about all the people you’re meeting? Well, you kind of can’t, so it’s better to just listen and catch up. How are you?
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.