Have you ever had an idea spark at some point in your brain, move from the incubation stages slowly and deliberately, then continuously remerge in your consciousness until it demands to be reckoned with?
I would imagine those types of ideas are the fabric from which “Bucket Lists” are constructed. They’re the kinds of ideas that send little currants of electricity down your spine, or through your teeth. They’re the visions that, when played out in your head, give your heart a little flutter, or awaken the butterflies in your stomach.
They’re the kinds of ideas that aren’t uttered aloud until you can own them. And, until you can own the results of your utterances.
One such result might be that by uttering your idea aloud, you’ve implied some kind of social contract with the person who heard you. Or, perhaps a contract with yourself.
Some people blurt their ideas in the early stages, before they’re fully developed. Others harbor them covertly until they’ve weighed every risk associated and every aspect or contingency. I fall more into the second camp. And that’s why it’s not until NOW that I’ve decided to publicly announce a project I’ll be starting in February called, “Every Point on the Map.”
Every Point on the Map will be a ten year journey to visit each one of Oklahoma’s 593 townships or cities and have a meaningful conversation with one person in each place. My daughter will be traveling with me, documenting the journey through two types of digital video and with two different cameras. Every Point on the Map is something of a “bucket list-type” idea that has been incubating for a while, and by virtue of writing this beginning post – to me – it’s like forming a social contract with Oklahomans at large. To me, it’s like the beginning of trying to introduce the idea. And, to introduce you to the “why” behind the idea.
I am a social scientist for two reasons.
The first will always be: To help solve human problems and enhance human lives. I will never cease to be fascinated at how a bit of listening, some degree of guidance or resources, and a lot of human determination on the part of someone who wishes to change their life creates miracles. I feel comfortable, energized and inspired every day as I work through the steps of training new professionals, researching unanswered questions, or connecting with someone for a brief time of stress…knowing full well I might not see them again. Ever.
The second reason, however, is because my studies have helped me see the world in a new way. I feel as though I take daily strides upon our earth with a permanent set of people-glasses through which to view life. I love tracking feedback loops when groups of colleagues are making plans. I love watching how people set boundaries with one another, or decide to take action at certain times but not others. And if I’m to be open with you, my people-glasses help me understand myself too. So, in the spirit of understanding myself…
Recently, I completed a personal goal that zapped my Essence. I know that I can replenish that deficit by exploring. Or, as the Australian Aborigines put it: “going on walkabout.” Exploring, or perhaps, getting away from normal life for a while, helps me in many ways. I like to learn. I’m an introvert, so I get to personally “recharge my batteries.” I like to connect with new people. And, exploring in Oklahoma has extra perks for me because I love our state so very much.
In fact, exploring in Oklahoma gives me great joy. It’s where I feel my roots of being a fourth generation Oklahoman are pulled along by the wings of delightful energy I encounter when conversing with another citizen of our state…and discovering another square inch of its complicated, intrinsic culture. And, it is where I believe I’ll get back my Essence that’s recently been zapped.
I’ve thought a lot about this journey. We’ll have to visit an average of 59 cities per year to reach our goal. Rachel is 26 now and will be 36 when we’re finished. I’m 50, so I’ll be 60. It’s 2014, so it will be 2024. Some of the eldest members of my family are over 90 now. They may or may not be around when we’re done. We will have experienced at least one more, and possibly two more U.S. Presidents by then.
But more than that, my daughter, our equipment, my car and I will have traveled to Every Point on the Map and will have encountered .000169 percent of our state’s population. We’ll have a great many stories, photos and video clips to share with you along the way. And…
I can’t wait to get started!