Some attendees talked about the challenge to identify elusive passions. Others weighed in on renting vs. buying our homes, with RV and communal living options thrown in for good measure. I heard people share their gratitude at being able to be fully engaged in their children's lives, while others related what it's like to travel with their young ones. A question was asked about creating time and space for work from the road, and as a freelancer with a recent 6-week trip still at the forefront of my mind, I was quickly engaged in that question, particularly.
It's rare to be in a room filled with so many whose choices I imagine are also often considered atypical. It started to sink in just what a gift this night was. And how important it was that I'd made time to be there myself.
Chris Guillebeau writes and speaks about living unconventionally and non-conformity, about contrarian travel and creating legacy projects early rather than later, about abundance and making time for the things that really matter. These are topics that have grown increasingly important to me, and so I drove 50 miles to hear him speak at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham on Saturday evening.
This was stop 27 on a 50-State "Unconventional Book Tour," Guillebeau's way of meeting the readers of his new book, The Art of Non-Conformity. Apparently book tours are no longer in vouge with publishing houses, and so Chris was on his own in planning this tour. Well, he would have been had his community - his Small Army of Remarkable People - not been so invested and supportive.
Because Guillebeau's readership is so widespread, I had no idea whether to expect many others from my area to be in attendance or not. I was a bit giddy when I arrived and discovered so many people had come out. And while it was thrilling to have the opportunity to meet someone whose writing I've enjoyed for a couple of years, that was only a small part of the point of this meetup for me. What Chris has been able to do is create an engaged, empassioned, thoughtful community of people who are considering - and making - conscious choices about their lives.
My take on Chris Guillebeau's message is not that he encourages non-conformity for the sake of being different. Instead, his message is one of authenticity. If your life feels traditional and societally-acceptable, and that gives you joy, then go for it! And... if you happen to be one of the many who have found "the norm" to be less comfortable for you, then try something else! Try something unique and off the beaten path. Follow your passion and go your authentic way, no matter how unconventional that is. That's what I perceive this message to be, and I for one am grateful that someone started writing about these topics at a time when I needed to remember these very ideas. When apparently a lot of other people needed to remember these ideas, too.
It was a special bonus to also meet Jolie Guillebeau, who is Chris's wife and partner. I want to call Jolie up on a Thursday morning and say "Want to meet for coffee this afternoon?" so I could continue the much-too-short conversation with this delightful, creative, engaging woman who just happens to also be married to one of my favorite bloggers. Afterward when I stood outside in the balmy evening air talking with her and some other new friends, I realized I was a little bummed she lives on the other coast. We talked about art and the special children in our lives and travel and packing light. Carry-on-only packing is a topic she assured me she's recently blogged about and since I need her tutelage, I'm committed to hunting down this piece and learning all I can from her.
Of course the conversation can continue, not just with Chris and Jolie, but with the others as well. Perhaps not on someone's back deck, late into the evenings, regularly face-to-face as I might prefer, but the Internet still narrows the distance considerably. I'm looking forward to enjoying the blogs of many I met this weekend, and hope to share more here, as well. Also? I'm reinvigorated in my quest to craft this life more and more consciously. And for encouragement on that front, I wholeheartedly thank Chris Guillebeau: for crafting his life as he has, for writing about it, and for traveling to meet us. Much appreciated.
Here's to living the lives we want!