March 8, 2007

The Bet

Over the break I have been able to try something very new for me, thanks to my close friend Jonathan. While eating at Akito's, one of our favorite restaurants, Jonathan said to me that he had a bet. If I could go one week without planning and organizing, he said, he would go one week without using his cellphone. I was intrigued. Jonathan knows I plan and organize things to a fault and I know that Jonathan communicates with others to a fault as well. By purging ourselves for a little while, the hope was that we would define that fault and then be better for it. With a little bit of help from my sister Leighanna, we discussed terms over some delicious teriyaki chicken:

I, from Monday until Friday, would:
  • Not write anything down
  • Not plan or schedule anything
  • Be spontaneous whenever possible
  • Use the words "might, around, maybe, possibly, some time and probaby" a lot
  • Use time intervals (like between noon and three) instead of distinct times and
  • Do things I felt like doing right then without hesitation

Similarly Jonathan, from Monday until Friday, would:
  • Not use his e-mail or instant messaging
  • Not use his cellphone to call anyone or text anyone
  • Not check his voicemails or text messages
  • Pay close attention to whoever he was with at that moment
  • Plan person-to-person contact whenever possible
  • Answer his phone if his mother called and
  • Use someone else's phone if he HAD to call someone

In general the idea, simple said by Jonathan, was that "if you find yourself acting like you normally do, stop it." It was hard, but we knew it would be good for us.

In ten minutes it will be Friday (I didn't plan that, I just looked at the clock and it said so) and the last day of this bet will begin. As I've told Jonathan a few times this week, however, I have a feeling I won't be going back to my old ways too quickly on Saturday. I have had at least a dozen interactions with friends and family members this week that were very meaningful to me, but completely unplanned. In fact, looking back on them, I know that they would not have happened if I had tried to plan them out. I have talked with my mom, dad, sister and brother in particular in ways and for amounts of time that I wouldn't have made time for otherwise. As it works out, I am valuing these moments in my life more and more and discovering that they define me. Actually (and this should definitely be noted), I didn't even watch Lost Wednesday night. Yes, it's true. I love Lost (the TV show), but for the first time in months and months, I missed the show. Well, I probably shouldn't say "missed", I just didn't watch it the night it aired. I will watch it eventually, some time. (Note the this Travis writing?)

On Jonathan's end of the bet there have been some valuable experiences this week too. In fact, just yesterday Jonathan told me he was with some friends and throughout his time with them they kept answering their cellphones and text messaging people. He thought to himself, "Man, that's annoying...This must be how everyone else feels when I do it." I didn't imagine such a helpful interaction would occur during our experiment, but just like in my case, Jonathan noticed a lot of value in not being himself.

I don't know how tomorrow will go exactly (I haven't planned much) but I have a feeling it will fill up with some great adventures and a lot of fun activities. In fact, the less I think about it, the more excited I get.

"When you see someone put their Big Boots on, you know an adventure is probably going to happen." - Winnie the Pooh
(Anna and I found this quote in a little bookstore, randomly)