Quite Possibly the Most Fun Service Project Ever

by Jason Kotecki on · 12 comments

Col­lege stu­dents some­times give up their spring break to go on a ser­vice trip.

Boy scouts have to col­lect ser­vice hours to earn cer­tain types of badges.

Law­break­ers must log a set num­ber of com­mu­nity ser­vice hours in order to pay their debt to society.

Every year, thou­sands of brave men and women enlist in the mil­i­tary to serve their country.

Accord­ing to Muham­mad Ali, “Ser­vice to oth­ers is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

Ser­vice is super impor­tant. The dic­tio­nary defines it as “an act of help­ful activ­ity.” But it seems that peo­ple have cer­tain pre-conceived notions of what ser­vice looks like. Staffing soup kitchens, build­ing homes for the poor, and rak­ing leaves for an elderly widow are com­mon men­tal snap­shots. Sac­ri­fice is a key ele­ment of how we think about ser­vice. Although serv­ing oth­ers makes us feel good, “fun” is not usu­ally a ben­e­fit that comes to mind.

But isn’t mak­ing some­one smile or laugh also an act of help­ful activity?

How about cre­at­ing a mem­ory for some­one that they’ll remem­ber ten years from now?

A few years back, on one of those early spring days when the sun is out and the ther­mome­ter rises ten degrees above freez­ing for the first time, I sur­prised my wife and best friend by kid­nap­ping them. I blind­folded them, care­fully guided them down the steps of our apart­ment build­ing, and ordered Happy Meals from the drive-thru at McDonald’s, before set­tling at the zoo for an out­door lunch. We ate our cheese­burg­ers near the lion enclo­sure, where a few baby cubs were frol­ick­ing. (I did have a moment of panic at McDonald’s, where I won­dered for the first time how the per­son at the win­dow might feel about a man dri­ving up with two blind­folded women sit­ting in the back seat. Appar­ently, judg­ing by her lack of alarm, this sort of thing hap­pens reg­u­larly. At least at McDonald’s.)

It was a fun day. And one that we still rem­i­nisce about from time to time.

At the end of our lives, when we are on our deathbed with our clos­est friends and fam­ily gath­ered around us, the con­ver­sa­tion usu­ally cen­ters on the good mem­o­ries, the funny moments, and the adven­tures we shared with our part­ners in crime. It seems to me that mak­ing more of these moments with the peo­ple we love is per­haps the great­est act of help­ful activ­ity there is.

In this busy world, it takes a fair bit of effort and plan­ning and sac­ri­fice to cre­ate a mem­ory that some­one will actu­ally remem­ber a whole decade later. Which is why mem­o­ries like those are rare. Life is fast and time flies, and although we have good inten­tions, the years — and the oppor­tu­ni­ties to cre­ate these mem­o­ries — pass by all too quickly.

The great­est way to leave a legacy is through your ser­vice to oth­ers. Your ser­vice project this week — if you choose to accept it — is to cre­ate a mem­ory with some­one you care about that will mean a lot ten years from now.

I’d love to hear how it goes.

P.S. This idea is one of the 40 chal­lenges fea­tured in The Escape Plan, a guide specif­i­cally designed to help you anni­hi­late the Adul­ti­tis in your life. You can learn more about it here.


by Jason Kotecki

Jason Kotecki is an artist, author, and pro­fes­sional speaker. Jason and his wife Kim (a for­mer kinder­garten teacher) make it their mis­sion in life to fight Adul­ti­tis and help peo­ple use strate­gies from child­hood to design lives with less stress and more fun. Stop by www.KimandJason.com for more tips for escap­ing adulthood.
Jason Kotecki
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