Musings: a year’ish on from The DO

The DO 2016

Thanks for the image @Timleroyis

This is one of those blog posts that I wrote, didn’t like, and never published. I’ve just found it, reread it and thought that it wasn’t too bad afterall. It’s almost an entire year since my first (and thus far, only, DO) but I feel the words are still true, so let’s set them free.  

The DO Lectures is a super-special unconference set in the rolling hills of South Wales, UK.

Written sometime in July 2015…

I’ve just returned from four days at The DO Lectures. If you’ve never heard of The DO, find out about it. If you’ve been thinking about going but haven’t yet, go. I’m pretty darn sure you won’t regret it.

At The DO, you gather in a barn and around dinner tables and constantly-burning campfires, to hear both speakers and attendees share interesting stories, amazing ideas, and how they made inspiring stuff happen, often with little resource and knowledge.

Campfires mean you end up smelling like a kipper – smoked fish for those unfamiliar with the English breakfast delicacy. It’s a smell that lingers for days and reminds you long after you’re home that you’ve got stuff to do, simply because you’re called to it from somewhere deep inside.

In that sense, it’s fair to say that The DO is an almost-religious affair.

What the DO got me thinking about, but not yet doing

As a yogi and biohacker, I’m interested in how my environment and interactions affect my state of being. Over the four days, it was interesting to observe the effect of The DO, not just on me, but on the group too.

I’ve lived in several ashrams in India and I’ve always found it fascinating to observe the phenomenon of the one – a gathering of people focused intently on one cause, and therefore feeding and growing it like a good sourdough, or kefir, for those in the know when it comes to living foods.

I’m not saying that The DO is a cult – even if it was, it would be a rather positive cult – the cult of doing interesting, inspiring and positive stuff, and without the distraction of a deity. It’s good, I reckon. However, it was interesting, certainly by the last day, to observe the voice of the crowd grow louder to a sort-of feverish pitch about the importance of doing, do-it-now, go-for-it, collaborate, share, don’t think/just do. Lord of the Flies style, but in the nicest possible way.

There was a momentum that built, crescendoed… then dispersed as everyone made their individual way home, inspired to start new projects, doings and stories. Certainly new friendships and partnerships were inspired, and then cemented, that much I know to be true.

During this feverish pitch, I found myself recalling stories of people I’ve met, and some who I’ve loved, who jumped into a project headfirst, all guns blazing, only to lose it all. My intention is not to ‘piss on the DO battery’, but it must be acknowledged that successful doing (at least in my experience) often needs a good combination of mindfulness, research, prudence, planning and then, of course… the leap of faith – the thrill of doing. Oh, and persistence and hard work too.

So, I took my DO inspiration home and added a good dose of thoughtfulness. Maybe that’s why I’ve not done my does yet. Though I am doing stuff that’s building up to them. It’s just not instant doing success.

But, success stories always seem instant, don’t they? Especially when shared via the medium of a 30-minute show-the-highlights (both good and bad) talk.

So, I moderated my enthusiasm. Perhaps I’m a killjoy. A realist. Or just too busy doing other interesting (and well paid) things to do the things I was inspired to do at The DO. I don’t know which it is yet.

Be time at The DO

‘Be time at The DO.’ Thanks for the image @mtownsendw

What the DO got me (planning to) do

As speakers at The DO took to the stage to share their inspiration – and the stories were terrifically inspiring – I did find myself thinking: “What parts of my life would make a good story to share?” or, “That thing I want to do, would it make a good story?”

Walking to the train station a couple of mornings post-DO – the smell of kippers still with me – I wondered what I could do that would be as inspiring.

I’m a storyteller; it’s my profession. Turning things into stories is my mind’s natural (and happiest) bent. But, I wondered about the purity of my passion for the things I thought I might want to do. Did I want to do these things because they’d make a good story? What would I do if there were no story at all? What would I do if my only reward were the joy of the doing?

Out of a list of ten things, there were really only two that I would do story-less, crowd-appreciating’less. That’s quite something. At least for me.

It’s almost a year on, and I’ve done neither of those two things, yet. But someday I will. And you may never get to hear about them.

Oh, but I’m a storyteller! and I won’t be able to hold myself back, so perhaps you will.

Go to The DO

And if you’ve got the cash and time, go to The DO 2016. I certainly would. It’s not something you’re likely to forget. There are wonderful people a’plenty, great vibes and excellent food. Besides, it’s a flip-your-mind-inside-out hoot.

And spend some time with @mtownsendw, the doer who teaches the art of being too.

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