Vivian Maier

Late Night PDX



The cursor blinks at me as I’m sitting in my hotel at midnight. I’m at the Ace in Portland Oregon for the second time.

This place has become a bit of a fantasy west coast apartment for me. I’ve always dreamed of living in Portland and having a little room dedicated towards letting me pretend I’m a local.

If you’ve ever stayed at an Ace you know that it is stereotypically hipstery with vintage modern decor and artist rendered murals covering the walls. But despite what you’d expect to be a pretentious environment, it really feels authentic in it’s efforts. I’m inspired here.

Today was the first official day of the World Domination Summit that I came out here to attend. Nearly 3,000 people have descended upon Portland from 30 different countries, just to come together and connect. Everyone has been asking me what this conference is all about – and the best way I can describe it so far is that it is a gathering of creative entrepreneurs, like-minded adventurers, passionate dreamers, activists and artists of all kinds.

It’s both wonderful and challenging attending conferences like this. I think WDS has done a great job so far, and I’m really thankful that they added breathing room into their schedule between speakers. You don’t have so much going on all at once that you are overloaded, but it is just enough to give you a few simple points to think about that hopefully shift your perspective in new ways. The challenging part is making sure you take the time to absorb the content and find a way to take action.

There were some really wonderful speakers today who I could spend a lot of time talking about here, and perhaps I will get into that over the next few days as things absorb into meaning. However – one of the most inspirational experiences of the day for me, was quietly seeing a film at the end of the night by myself, called “Finding Vivian Maier”.

I was feeling pretty lethargic all day due to one too many Rogue beers last night, however, this film perked me up. It was about a woman who hid her true identity of being a brilliant photographer. A box of undeveloped film and negatives were sold at an auction to a young curious man, who decided to dig in and learn about the artist behind the pictures. There were over hundreds of thousands of negatives that were discovered and then later collections of eccentric items, receipts, letters, clothing and newspaper articles. All tangible things that made up this woman’s life. She had just recently passed away and when this man started inquiring about her life, he realized how little people had actually known her, and how no one knew she had potential to be one of the greats. All that was left behind of her life, were these things and a few personal stories from people who she nannied over the years.

I’m not going to get into the whole thing, but that film seemed to have hit on a powerful concept that had coincidentally been echoed by a speaker at WDS earlier today by the name of, Michael Hyatt. He said…

How do you want to be remembered?  You are the architect of memories for those you love.

Michael told a story about someone close to him in his family dying unexpectedly, and that after the funeral, a gathering of people got together, told stories, looked at old films, shared memories and celebrated this person’s life. We never know how long we have and his message was loud and clear. Your life not only impacts you and everything you’ve created for yourself, but the people you care about the most. You’re life, dreams and story will be shared with people who will keep your memory alive even after you are gone.

And how often do we think about what that story will be that is told?  For me, never really. I’m too busy living in the moment and building my life’s story.  However, this concept definitely stopped and forced me to think about it. We are the designers of our lives, the architects of our dreams and our loved one’s memories.

Our decisions in life shape these memories, and therefore should be made thoughtfully. It’s too easy sometimes to just let our lives drift without taking action and making meaningful decisions.  I think thats part of why I love to travel and crave it in my soul. Not only is it about the adventure of the unknown -wondering what you will encounter and what you’ll discover along the way, but it’s about giving yourself the opportunity to embrace serendipity. Something that would never happen if you just watched your life pass by while inside your comfortable routine from the couch.

So how do you want to be remembered?  What stories do you want people to tell of you?