Yes, I confess. I did the whole “undead” thing last week at the Cambridge Zombie March.
The Zombie March is just what it sounds like. A couple of hundred people dressed up as zombies and shambled a couple of miles across the city of Cambridge.
I heard about it at the last minute and decided to go. My only vaguely Zombie-looking make-up was a Body Shop exfolient. I applied it liberally, giving a perfectly undead pallor. Add in a couple of bloodshot eyes from a cheap Halloween costume, tossed on a ragged army jacket and torn jeans, and voila – instant Zombie.
We shambled along, to the gawking of onlookers. We must have been photographed by a dozen TV cameras and thousands of cell phone cameras. Being Zombies, we cared nothing for notoriety. The policy tracked our progress, keeping the order by yelling “Zombies, back on the sidewalk” when one of our number would wander too far out into traffic. Tourists loved us, and halfway through our march, a confused housewife with a midwestern accent wandered up and asked, “Why exactly are you doing this?”
Why, indeed. There really wasn’t a good reason, just spontaneous creativity. Remember childhood? We did this a dozen times a day as kids. As adults, we’re this creative maybe once a decade.
As bizarre as this was, the weirdest part was realizing how rarely I move even remotely outside my comfort zone. TV shows? Familiar. Conversations? With familiar people about familiar topics. In short, as much as I preach thinking outside the box, my own boxes are as captivating as anyone’s.
Maybe, you’re thinking, the Zombie March would spark some great new idea about business. Maybe. Or maybe not. Even the question itself presupposes that the Zombie March had to have some purpose, or that you should only do something if it has a purpose.
What if we’re wrong? What if there’s value to being creative simply for the sake of being creative? Maybe the more you stretch your limits, the more you’ll have great ideas on the job and wacky ones off the job. Maybe life is about having a great range of experience, rather than just having a productive range of experience.
My challenge for the day: open up the paper and find some event or gathering that sounds totally silly. Something that you would never do. Then go do it and just enjoy the experience. Find out what happens. Maybe just outside your comfort zone is your Next Big Thing waiting to happen.
P.S. When the Zombie march was over, I washed off the Body Shop exfolient and discovered my skin clean and smooth like it hasn’t been for years. Sometimes taking a turn as a Zombie has unexpected benefits!