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Rooms 171-176: Become An Extreme Spectator

Rooms 171-176: Become An Extreme Spectator
The Power of Observation 

Who’s up for a little nude volleyball?  

How about a trip to the Annual Wife Carrying Festival?  Or the Beer and Mustache championships?  Chess Boxing? Dodgeball? Extreme Ironing? 

Not your cup of tea? Okay, then how about the Hairiest Back Competition?  Don’t wax just yet, my friends. They’re offering a year of free electrolysis for the lucky winner. 

This week’s room is simple. It’s time to become an extreme spectator. It’s a little unknown path to enlightenment. It’s called being witness to the world around us, also known as becoming a keen observer of lives that are different than our own. 

Yes, I realize it’s the mission of The Other 999 Rooms to stop being spectators and start joining in on the action that will take us into new rooms and experiences. But, sometimes a little popcorn and a nice seat on the sidelines can be a good thing. In fact, if played right, conscious spectating can take us into just as many rooms as if we were actually participating. 

As Yogi Bera said, “Sometimes we can observe a lot just by watching.” 

The problem arises when we watch the same thing over and over again. Same movies, same sporting events, same activities. And, not that this is a horrible thing. After all, we like what we like. Personally, I’m into football and baseball, which, along with my daughter’s water polo games and my son’s cross country meets, are all I really have time for.  

But, if we only watch the same things, we get into a state of mind where nothing is new. And with nothing new, we’ll never have any new experiences or observations. We have unwittingly trained our minds to stop seeking things we’re not looking for, or aren’t interested in.  

Observation is a muscle and the best way to train a muscle is to use it as much as possible, especially when it takes us out of our normal everyday world…and sometimes that means out of our comfort zone. And what better way than with nude volleyball. Especially if it happens to be at a senior citizen tournament. 

Our lesson this week is to seek out and hunt down the oddest and/or most unlikely sporting events or competitions you can find. It might take a couple of weeks or more to find the right one. But, that’s okay. Just start looking. There are over 11,000 sporting/competitive events out there. One has your name on it. All you’re doing is looking for that one or two that gives you that ”I can’t believe I’m here,” kind of feeling.  

It is in that feeling where observation is born, where a new room is waiting.

The only criteria is to make sure the events are live. We want to take in the sights, sounds and nuances of what we’re observing. We want people. That’s where the real room exists. It’s not what they’re doing that is important, but the passion behind the doing.  

Marble Tournaments work. So will Nascar, Frisbee Golf, Arm Wrestling, Beer Pong, Camel Races, Horseshoes, Cricket, Cup Stacking, Curling, Elephant Polo, Rugby, Monster Truck Rallies, Ballroom Dancing, Toe Wrestling, and Mud Olympics. 

And for those lucky enough to have one of these contests in your neighborhood, you might even try:

Kabaddi: an Asian sport dedicated to the ancient art of holding your breath.

Joggling: a combination running and juggling race. 

Zorbing: rolling down a hill inside a giant inflatable ball.

World Gurning Contest: A competition where the ugliest face wins, which I would go to, if only to see what kind of person would enter.

Worm Charming: Also known as worm grunting and worm fiddling. Each competitor gets a patch of ground and a certain amount of time to bring as many worms to the surface as they can. Competitors can use just about any method they wish, but be warned - the use of dishwashing detergent has been banned.

The World Stinging Nettle Challenge: Find out how many stinging nettle stalks someone can eat in one hour.

The bottom line is there are people out there enjoying all sorts of unusual things. People who have found ways to express themselves in the most extraordinary ways. 

Last summer I tried the experiment with Lawn Bowling. I wanted green grass, white outfits, and a place where I could feel like a teenager again. (I even got to play a little, which is a whole other experience, highlighted by the fact they called me “the kid.”) 

But, along with you, I’m now on the lookout for my next event. Of course, it’s more than a wacky competition we’re looking for. It’s a way of connecting with others, opening our eyes and seeing how different we all are. 

A lot of times we miss out on invitations into new rooms simply because we don’t appreciate what these different rooms have to offer. We come to the room with judgements and, in doing so, become snobs, liking only what we like. If we don’t think something has an immediate benefit to our lives, we slam the door shut. 

Our goal this week is to start appreciating our differences. To become the kind of person who can walk into any room and find value, to see the passion and uniqueness we all share.  Cultivate this lifelong outlook and the world will open up before your eyes. 

And, who knows, it may all begin at this years North American Wife Carrying Championship.

My wife and I will be there. Will you?


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