This is a guest post by SJ McQuillan, who wanted to share her experience with GISHWHES.
For one week, literally thousands of people across the globe partake in a scavenger hunt.
Or more accurately, thousands of people across the globe partake in a Guinness Record Holding scavenger hunt, aptly named The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the Wold Has Ever Seen. Or GISHWHES. (Now, in 2018, known as GISH).
Leading up to the event, its creator, Misha Collins, along with other powers behind GISH’s presence, will cast a continuous light upon registration for the event. In doing so, a light is cast upon what potentially awaits for each person that signs up by sharing submissions from hunts past, sharing the work that comes into being from participation in the hunt, and relaying Gisher’s experiences. He entreats anyone not considering joining in, to consider, and for those considering, to please give it a go.
I participated in one of the early GISHWHES; I can count myself as a Guinness World Record holder. But that was not the impetus that moved me to click ‘Register’. It sounded like fun because all the other scavenger hunts I had ever done were. And with Mr. Collins so enthusiastic about having a mass scavenger hunt happening at the same time, it was hard to not mull over it a little while.
I did have fun. After letting the list marinate, it eased the anxiety of feeling that this…this is impossible. I was right about the impossibility, but it was more on the order of Six Impossible Things. I got to be astounded by my teammates’ fearlessness, their creativity, and their talents that GISHWHES showcased. But I also surprised myself – learning I could also be a bit more fearless than I had habitually gave myself credit for. To say that week wasn’t intense is a lie. It was. So much so, that when the next year was due, registration open, that I opted to be one of the folks to help rather than be a registered participant.
Thing is? Always felt that pull. I understand it better now: I like to make things. When GISHWHES’s initial goings-on happened, that was a part of me I was as a stranger to. Add time and I figured that out. And each year I looked at the list posted to see if I could offer help to teams looking to complete items.
I was gearing up to do the same for 2016’s GISHWHES. I think with each passing year, I was moving closer to clicking ‘Register’ again. I write about how my team found me and I them here.
It’s closer to being a year later than not, and my teammates are counted among those I consider my closest of friends. I can take it further and easily say that the friends I have made later in my life, I have found through a community, or as Matt Cohen once entreated, it being called a famdom in the stead of a fandom.
There are numerous testimonies shared about what experiencing GISHWHES does. I’d like to add mine to that cavalcade, for your consideration.
In short, I was the primary caretaker for a family member. And for 2016, I was about ninety percent ready to participate again. I took stock of my situation and determined: not this year. It felt disingenuous; it felt unfair. I know that part of the beauty of the event is you can participate as much as you’re able. I knew that in the back of my mind, but it still felt wrong. I was not OK with the idea of being part of a team only for the potentiality of not being able to participate growing as GISHWHES fast approached.
I was approached instead; my concerns alleviated as the team told me they understood; that this team was in it for the fun (no stress) and how much or little I participated was fine. And that perhaps, maybe, just maybe, it’ll bring me some joy.
We wondered what do we do after? When GISHWHES was finished, what now? In our team, a number of folks connected, really connected and we wanted to keep talking with each other- keep sharing parts of our lives with each other.
So we did.
And now we’re gearing up for 2017.
Which, frankly, has been awful for each of us in its own way. The year itself. GISHWHES 2017 we surmise will be every bit of an emotional rollercoaster as 2016’s was.
But what I want to tell you is, the testimonies you read/hear about the bonds forged during that week? It happens.
I have friendships with people that enrich my own by virtue of knowing them. People I talk with frequently. Sometimes I just listen. Always, I hope for good things in their days.
And even though there are teammates and now friends that joined recently, they enrich, uplift, support, and cheer on as if they’ve always been there.
There is someone there when someone needs an ear. When someone needs advice, when someone needs thoughts, when someone would like, if folks feel up to it, to learn from life experiences others are willing to share. When someone doesn’t quite feel they can do something, they have folks that believe in them and tell them, they are capable of doing the thing. When someone just needs to break and have folks that understand that, there are. If we have a motto, it may look a lot like, ‘We’re here, should you need us.’
I know such bonds are not forged often, so I know how lucky we are that we found each other because we all wanted in; we wanted to click ‘Register,’ buckle up, and see where we end up.
And then…we kept going.
I can’t promise you that you’ll find the best of friends the first time (or this time).
I can’t promise that you forge the kind of bond that has you thinking certainly you’ve known these folks longer than the passing of time indicates.
I can’t promise that when GISH is done, that you’ll wonder, ‘What now?’ as we did.
What I can put out there is the hope of the possibility being on the horizon. My first GISH did not result in the relationships I have now. But it did give me a life experience that factored into the whole of my sum, and in doing so, enriched it.
And then, a number of GISH later, I found an amazing group of folks that astonish me on the regular. That make me grateful for wanting me to be a part of their lives and I, theirs.
Moreover, they are amazing. And I get the privilege of seeing them go do amazing and wonderful things whilst cheering them on.
It was probably my fifth impossible thing to believe in.