Every once in a while, somebody will come up with a brilliant idea or go on an amazing adventure that makes me boggle at just how fantastic we are as human beings.
Quite possibly my favorite idea-haver/adventure-goer is Danny Wallace.
I don’t know that I can fully capture just how much I adore Danny Wallace in one blog post. Usually when I talk about him in the physical realm, there is a lot of excited screeching and hand flailing. It’s probably for the best that you only have to read these words, rather than watch to me attempt to say them in a calm, even fashion.
First of all, he’s Scottish, and he lives in England, which automatically scores him Awesome Accent Cool Points. If you only read this far, you at least know that hearing him speak is quite an enchanting experience.
As for what he does, well, that’s where things get interesting. He’s accidentally formed his own cult, intentionally started his own country, gone on a quest to reunite with his childhood friends, gone on a quest with his friend Dave Gorman to meet people of the same name, and spent a year saying yes to absolutely everything.
If that last one sounds familiar, that’s because the book he wrote about his experience, Yes Man, became the basis for the movie of the same name.
That’s how I discovered Danny Wallace in the first place. I love movies and I love Jim Carrey, so I checked “Yes Man” out from my local RedBox. I knew it was based on a book, because I’d seen the book at Barnes & Noble. However, until I read the book myself, I didn’t realize that it was non-fiction. A true story. Danny Wallace actually spent a year saying yes to everything. And then wrote about it.
And the book is completely hilarious. Granted, I’m an easily amused person and it doesn’t take much to make me laugh. But this book had me laughing out loud so much that I actually felt fantastic while reading it. Laughter’s the best medicine, and all that.
Throughout the book, Danny occasionally references his past adventures, which he has also written about. I picked up Join Me next, the story about how he inadvertently became a cult leader by placing an ad in the paper that simply said “Join Me”. Hundreds of people did, and you still can.
I enjoyed it so much that I went on Amazon and bought everything he had written up to that point, and proceeded to read all of it. My roommate at the time was very patient with this. I would sit on my bed reading, and occasionally crack up in a fit of laughter, to which he would patiently respond, “What’s old Danny up to now?”
By the way, reading Danny Wallace is a dangerous thing to do in public. I took his books to many a restaurant where I’d sit, alone, eating and laughing. I’m sure I looked ridiculous.
But as funny as Danny Wallace’s books are, it’s nothing compared to how much they inspire me. I mean, most of us, we have a crazy idea. We think, wouldn’t that be nice, even kind of fun, if we did it. And then we remember that we have responsibilities and bills and friends we don’t want to alienate and probably it would be a better idea to keep our crazy idea in our heads.
But Danny doesn’t. Danny takes his idea and runs with it. He makes things happen. He creates something from nothing. He takes risks, he puts himself out there, he does things most of us avoid for fear of looking stupid or crazy or losing everything. Danny’s had experiences I’ve only dreamed of having because he’s not afraid to take the leap.
It could be argued, of course, that he’s too foolish to know better than to take the leap. But what’s the difference, really? His foolhardiness has produced a body of work eight books strong, an army of people who do random acts of kindness simply because it’s the leading mission of the Join Me “cult”, his own country (the country of Lovely), and a pile of mini-adventures and amazing experiences enough to fill a lifetime.
If I had to choose between the guarantee of a predictable life or the right to say “I Did That”, I’d pick the latter. Danny Wallace inspires me to no end to get out there and do it, whatever it is, whatever the reason, no matter how crazy or foolish. The man makes me happy simply by existing. And for that, I owe him endless gratitude.