3 Extraordinary Bloggers Doing 3 Extraordinary Things Right Now

black sheep

The blogosphere has grown to astronomical size already, but somehow, there still appears to be pervasive sameness to it. (Anybody know where I can learn to make money online?)  There are millions of blogs in thousands of niches, and in each, certain authorities rise to the surface.  Most of these “A-listers” are just especially good at something a lot of people are doing: marketing, getting fit, discussing tech stuff.  Nothing wrong with that.   But some people are clearly drumming their own tune, and it’s refreshing to see people who are doing something that is so distinguished, they have no competition.

Here are three fascinating characters working on three extraordinary projects.  Enjoy. 

Neil Pasricha

You know what’s awesome?  When cashiers open new checkout lanes at the grocery store.  And when you pull up at a red light and the guy in front of you nudges up a bit so you can make a right turn.  And popping bubble wrap.

Those three glorious events are #953, #986 and #840 in Toronto blogger Neil Pasricha’s list of 1000 Awesome Things.  He is currently counting down, at a rate of one per workday, one thousand things that are unquestionably awesome.  Who couldn’t appreciate:

Getting a trucker to blow their horn.

Arriving at your destination just as a great song ends on the radio.

The smell of gasoline (you know you love it.)

What is extraordinary is how unarguably awesome his choices are.  They are quite specific, and rarely are these delicious experiences ever acknowledged aloud.  I mean, who hasn’t secretly enjoyed scraping all the lint out of an overflowing lint trap?  But have you ever heard anyone mention it?  Well, Neil is mentioning it.  And it’s about time.

I don’t know who can visit this site and not smile, and that is extraordinary to me.

Now, I won’t try and read some kind of grand global message into this — as I’m prone to doing — because this project really is about how awesome it is to watch The Price is Right when you’re home sick, or to build a stack of pancakes that looks just like the front of the box. It seems obvious though, that the exploding popularity of 1000 Awesome Things proves that these inconsequential little details are worth honoring, to so many of us.  Popular media has always been dominated by the dramatic and grandiose, but I don’t see how Terminator 4 or the conclusion of Lost could possibly be as awesome as pushing those little buttons on the soft drink cup lid, or remembering what movie that guy is from.

Not unlike Seinfeld, Pasricha is paying homage to supposedly unimportant things, and people are flocking to it in droves, because there is concrete meaning there for so many of us.  Everybody’s life seems to be full of these same tiny, nondescript miracles, and that’s just awesome.

Chris Guillebeau

Now there are goals and there are goals. And Chris Guillebeau clearly has a goal, and he’s declared it to the world.  Chris intends to visit every single nation on the planet.  Surely the work of a lifetime.

But Chris isn’t giving himself a lifetime do to this.  He’s chosen a firm deadline of April 7, 2013.  At the time of this writing, he’s got 107 down, 90 to go.  Among his fans, there is little doubt that he’ll do it, he’s just too determined and travel-savvy.

Most travel-interested people toil for forty-nine or fifty weeks of the year so that they can spend the other two or three exploring another country.  And that’s if they don’t spend those precious weeks off building a deck or redoing the bathroom.

He’s not a dot-com tycoon or a trust-fund baby; he manages this copius amount of travel on a relatively modest annual income.  And he makes no secret of how he does it.  He is a keen student (and teacher) of a new science called lifestyle design, eschewing the traditional model of cubicle conformity and getting paid for what he wants to do anyway.  His site, The Art of Nonconformity, is a mecca for travelers and those unsatisfied with conventional, dollars-for-hours working life.

Described by himself and his fans as a “Travel Ninja,” he can show you how to get transoceanic flights for the price of a cheap dishwasher, and where to stay in Haiti.  He is committed to debunking the myths that self-employment is unfeasible, that travel is expensive and exclusive, and that your life has to meet the expectations of others.

And the best part?  He wants to help you, and be your friend.  Follow him on Twitter, he’ll actually talk to you.  He wants to wake people up from the doldrums of convention and normalcy, and get them spending their days doing what they actually want to do.

If you’re interested in throwing off the shackles of conformity, start with his free boon to humanity, A Brief Guide to World Domination.

On his About page, he sums up his philosophy succinctly:

1. You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.

2. If you don’t decide for yourself what you want to get out of life, someone else will probably end up deciding for you.

3. There is usually more than one way to accomplish something.

4. You can do good things for yourself and help other people at the same time.

It’s not an exaggeration to say he is indeed changing the world, and helping others to discover that they can too.  Take a look at what he’s doing.  If you’re not inspired, check yourself for a pulse.

“Cedric”

And then there’s Cedric.  You probably haven’t heard of him.  He’s not cross-crossing the globe, or being interviewed by the Toronto Globe and Mail.  He is not famous, he has no book deal, and he makes lots of typos and uses capital letters where they don’t belong.  But he is extraordinary.

See, Cedric has a problem, and he’s chosen an unconventional solution.

I’ll let him explain in his own words:

For many years now I have found decision making extremely difficult. I agonise over what to have for lunch, what colour shirt to wear, even what train to get in the morning. Now these are the trivial things, Imagine how difficult it is for me when it comes to the General Election, booking a holiday or buying a car. Life for me is truly miserable due to the endless choices I have to make. I remember as a child, life was great. Mum used to choose what I had for lunch, what I would wear and what time I went to bed.

Now it’s time to get that happiness I experienced at childhood back. It’s time for all of you to be my mum! I want you to decide my life!

True to the tradition of George Costanza, (and pretty much the exact opposite of Chris Guillebeau) he suspects he could be a happier person if the rest of the world would just kindly tell him what to do.  That’s right, when he can’t decide on what to do, he lets you make the call. He cannot bear to be responsible for the hazards of wearing the wrong shoes, or cheering for the wrong football team, so he sends it out to a public vote.

Even his internet moniker, ‘Cedric’ — he’s remaining incognito, for obvious reasons — was produced by his loyal handful of deciders.  I admit I was personally involved in instructing him to get a tattoo, though I didn’t tell him which design to get.  Of course, others did.

Part of his charm is the casual haplessness with which it all unfolds, and the hilarious way he writes about it.  Things never work out the way he expects.  He even had a server crash (he thinks his computer got swine flu) that erased some of his posts, and put his site out of commission for a while.  The decision of which hosting company to use was made, unfortunately, back when he was at the helm, thus strengthening his faith in everyone else’s superior judgment.

If you’ve ever wanted some free, unaccountable power over the course of another persons life, Cedric is letting you have your way with him.  I can only imagine what kind of abomination the will of the people will create.  But I’m glued to my seat.

R

Photo by Pasotraspaso

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Roger - A Content Life May 20, 2009 at 7:18 am

David,

The blogosphere is a a bizarre place especially for an older guy like me.

I like Chris Guillebeau goal. Imagine the understanding and compassion in the world if everybody traveled to every country. This is probably not a practical idea, but I still like it. :)

Roger – A Content Life’s last blog post..Meditation for Beginners (Week 3) – Insight Meditation

Lisis May 20, 2009 at 8:11 am

Awesome! I had been following Chris but hadn’t heard of the other two. I’m so glad you shared them with us here, ’cause there are SO many blogs out there it’s tough to sift through them to find the really good ones. I look forward to checking these out.

Thanks!

Lisis’s last blog post..Is Being “Gifted” Really a Good Thing?

Positively Present May 20, 2009 at 8:43 am

Great post! I’m excited to go check out these sites. Thanks for writing about them. :)

Positively Present’s last blog post..how to give the world a virus

Writer Dad May 20, 2009 at 8:54 am

Like Lisis, I’ve been following Chris but not the other two. Awesome round up and two new road maps to look into. Thanks!

Writer Dad’s last blog post..Meme Oh My-O

Rev. T. Monkey May 20, 2009 at 9:10 am

David,

You should amend your title to read “4 Extraordinary Bloggers…” After all, I probably would never have encountered the first blog (let alone all three) if it hadn’t been for your blogging efforts.

Rev. T. Monkey’s last blog post..The spirit of Richard Feynman

David May 20, 2009 at 9:25 am

Hey, thanks for your comments everyone. I suspected most people (at least most bloggers) had heard of Chris Guillebeau, but I wondered if anyone would know the other two. I Stumbled Upon Neil Pasricha’s Squeezing through a door as it closes without touching it just as his site happened to get a mention on CBC radio.

Rev Monkey — You sure know how to flatter a guy.

Nadia - Happy Lotus May 20, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Hi David,

I already know of Chris and am a big admirer of him. I am all for promoting non-conformity! :)

I was not aware of the other two, so I will check them out. Thank you for sharing this information with all of us.

Hope all is awesome! :)

Nadia – Happy Lotus’s last blog post..Civil Procedure

David May 20, 2009 at 6:13 pm

All is awesome, yes! ;)

Chris Guillebeau May 20, 2009 at 6:47 pm

@David,

This is great! I’m honored to be on the list. Your writing style is crisp and entertaining – I also enjoyed hearing about Neil and the artist presently known as Cedric. Way to go, man.

Thanks so much,

CG

Sean May 20, 2009 at 10:35 pm

it is always a pleasure to find some truly unique and worth finding blogs in the slush of the internet.

I’ve been following Chris for awhile, but the other two are new to me – thanks for the lead. 1000 Awesome things has grabbed me already. It is always good to remind ourselves to take pleasure in the simple things and not take it all for granted.

Thanks!

David May 21, 2009 at 8:25 am

@ Chris — Thanks Chris. I’m a big fan of AONC; your posts have made me realize my travel and self-employment dreams are a lot more doable that I had thought. Enjoy the Cook Islands!

@ Sean — 1000 Awesome Things really spoke to me, immediately. That’s the stuff that makes life so awesome. Happiness really is in “the littlest thing.”

Paul Maurice Martin May 21, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Thanks for the interesting links. I especially like the thousand things. As someone whose been physically unable to leave the house or even look out the window for going on five years, I’ve learned that the “little” things add up to a big percentage of life’s joy.

Lori May 22, 2009 at 8:16 pm

Wow I love these concepts–particularly the 1000 awesome things. (Although visiting every nation on the planet is definitely amazing). Kudos to you for shining a light on these fascinating people.

Lori’s last blog post..10 Reasons Its Awesome You’re Terrified

Josh Hanagarne May 25, 2009 at 9:36 am

Chris has nothing on me: my current goal is to visit one other country:)

Good stuff, David. I hadn’t heard of either Cedric or Neil. Thanks.

Josh Hanagarne’s last blog post..Why You Should Read With A Dictionary

Neil May 30, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Wow, I’m totally flattered to be included in this great list, David. Thank you so sincerely. You’ve got a fantastic blog going here, and I’ll be reading. Good luck and thanks again. Neil.

Neil’s last blog post..#755 When you arrive at the bus stop just as the bus is coming around the corner

David May 31, 2009 at 9:55 am

Thanks Neil. I am a fan of your awesome things. It was a great idea, and you convey the awesomeness of those things so well. Very often in my day-to-day life I’ll experience something that makes me smile, and I think “awesome!” in big capital letters.

John June 16, 2009 at 11:10 am

Great list, David. I was already following Chris, because like everybody else, I’ve been inspired by his massive goal. I intend to check out Cedric’s and Neil’s blogs as well.

Thanks for posting.
.-= John´s last blog ..What Has the Power to Inspire You? =-.

David June 16, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Hi John,

Neil’s blog is still going full steam ahead, but Cedric seems to have fallen off the map. I know he had computer troubles, I hope he hasn’t given up.

Sapphire April 15, 2012 at 2:24 am

Hi David

Thank you for the list – I enjoyed reading about Neil and Chris’ projects! I think that at the end of the day it simply is all the little things that make life special. The simple joys of choosing what colour dress to wear, trying new food, visiting a different place or making a stranger smile.

I have only just read this post and found that Cedric’s website is not currently active. Do you know what happened to him or where I can find out about his ‘project’?

Have a wonderful day! :)

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