New Experiences and the Summer Challenge

It’s that time of year again: summer.  Or at least the first week of May.  Which means it’s time to jump into a pool with your clothes still on, go to the fair, set off fireworks, fly a kite, sunbathe, play in the sprinklers, star gaze, or just drink some cider in the sun.  In other words, it’s time for the Summer Challenge.  

The Summer Challenge is essentially a list of fun things to do over the summer.  But because my friends and I are particularly competitive, we built a game around it.  The rules are simple: every challenge completed is a point.  To complete a challenge, one only needs to do the fun thing listed, take a picture as proof, and post it to social media with the hashtag #summerchallenge2016 to brag about it.  The person at the end of the summer with the most points wins, thereby numerically proving that they had a better summer than everybody else.  

If you’d like to play and are looking for a more comprehensive description of the rules, you can find it HERE.  

This year’s list of challenges can be found HERE, with more in-depth descriptions and clarification HERE.

Because we had so much interest last year, we even made a FAQ this time!  Aren’t we official!

The Summer Challenge has made summer my favorite part of the year.  Let’s be honest: partially it’s the competition.  I like winning as much as the next person, and competing to do as many fun things as possible makes it even better.  But the Summer Challenge has also positively affected my work and my art.  I’ve talked about it previously: the Summer Challenge taught me how to set and achieve goals.  I’ve also embraced creative constraints because of the various challenges.  

But I think there’s something particularly important about the Summer Challenge that I haven’t touched on previously.  It’s the reason I’m willing to put so much time and energy into what could otherwise be seen as a frivolous pursuit.  That thing is new experiences.

New experiences are some of the most valuable that a creative person can have.

I’m convinced that new experiences are some of the most valuable that a creative person can have.  New experiences lead to new reactions.  They force me to try out different solutions, and this has ultimately led to more new ideas for my work than any thing else.  

New experiences can come from whenever I leave my comfort zone.  They can be caused by other people, traveling, or anything that shakes up my routine.  But new experiences are hard to find—and when I can find them, they’re often costly in both time and money.

The Summer Challenge is a list of accessible new experiences.  And because they’re so accessible, they’ve made their way into my art.  I’ve found modeling inspiration from visiting art galleries I wouldn’t otherwise have entered, and shooting locations from places I otherwise wouldn’t have hiked.  The taste of umbrella cocktails and the feel of sprinklers on a hot summer day have infected the descriptions in my writing.  

So don’t undervalue new experiences.  Sometimes the best thing you can do for your goals is to go out and have some fun.