I always like to see people’s reactions when I tell them the things that I do. I find that it is a good gauge for the quality of endeavors I undertake.
I find that I like getting the “Why are you doing that??” sort of questions. I can’t quite put my finger on why. I’m sure it is derived from some kind of desire to be unique in some way, for better or worse.
My Scoutmaster used to talk about people who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail (a foot trail over 2,000 miles long that runs from Georgia to Maine). He would always end his stories with “And those people are crazy!” This is how my desire to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail was born.
My favorite reaction to my hiking plans happened before my recent backpacking trip. My hiking partner and I arrived at the trail entrance and needed to park our car. I went into the convenient store that I knew gave out the parking passes and asked to register my vehicle. The lady working was clearly only trained to ring up soft drinks and candy and had to call her boss to ask about signing out parking passes. “Ok, how long will you be here?”, she asked.
“Until August 7th”, I replied (this was July 26th).
“Alri…you said when??”, she said as she looked around at me with a mixture of annoyance and disbelief.
“August 7th, 2 weeks from now”, I said again.
“I don’ know nuthingabout noneothatnah”, was all she said as she shook her head.
My mom often has good reactions too. I once returned from a backpacking trip, walking very slowly due to a few blisters and sore legs, and she said “Philip, why do you do this to yourself??” I once described a piece of music I was working on saying that it had been called “impossible to play” by the flutist who premiered it. She asked me why, then, I wanted to play it.
And my answer to both of those things is always “Because THEY’RE FUN!” And the fact that I get those reactions means, to me, that they are things worth doing. There are, perhaps, other things that are worth doing that inspire less incredulity but if I am going to pour all of my efforts into a project, I want it to be extraordinary.
And of course, I am referring to external sources of information in writing this post. I do not mean to imply that these external factors are my only motivation for doing things; there are many internal reasons I do the things I do (as I think are evidenced in many of my other writings).
But, when I need a way of making sure I am not entirely in my head, I just describe an endeavor I am undertaking and see how people react. If the reactions are along the lines of “You’re crazy!”, I know I am headed in more or less the right direction.