Best Days of your life: Kim and Jason Kotecki
If you feel as though you’re taking yourself to seriously, have forgotten how to have fun or simply don’t have time for mucking about any more, you’re probably suffering from a bout of ‘Adultitis’. Help is at hand as Kim and Jason Kotecki – authors of a forty-step Escape Plan – show you how to flee the world of electricity bills and mediocrity, and return to the innocence of childhood.
New Escapologist: What are the main things we can learn from childhood?
Kim and Jason: There are eight “secrets” or qualities that all children posses. These are things that can get a little rusty as we grow older. Some of the biggest things we can learn from childhood are the ability to slow down and appreciate the little things in life, to dream big again and to renew our natural curiosity.
NE: You’ve interpreted maturity as an illness. What makes you see it as one?
K&J: Maturity is not necessarily an illness, but taking yourself too seriously can be a problem. We like to differentiate the differences between being childish and childlike. We don’t think people should start paying their bills with Monopoly money and mucking around with Play-Doh all day. But we think getting back to a more childlike attitude is important.
NE: So what’s the cure for Adultitis? How can we escape the shackles of being an adult?
K&J: There are many ways to counter the effects of Adultitis. Anything you can do to get yourself thinking and acting in a more childlike way will help. Our entire web site revolves around the idea of giving people tools to do just that. Our most ambitious project has been the Escape Plan.
NE: The Escape Plan is described as the first ever ‘experiential blog’. What does that mean?
K&J: Basically, an experiential blog (or xblog) is a blog that inspires active participation in events or activities, leading to the accumulation of knowledge or skill. You might think of it as a community self-help or how-to blog.
It’s different than other blogs because it invites active involvement from the reader in the experience, beyond just responding to what the author has written.
An experiential blog contains the following elements:
1. It has a finite number of posts, each of which constitute a specific step towards a stated goal.
2. Community is created by readers (voyagers) who share comments on their experiences.
3. It is written by an individual or team of sherpas, who lead the experience and guide voyagers in the journey.
NE: What has been the response? Have many people taken up your challenges?
K&J: The response has been quite good. Jason has had a chance to talk about it during his speaking presentations. People have loved hearing about some of the ways we’ve solved various challenges and are inspired to do the same. Quite a few people have been doing the challenges, and people from all over the world have taken the time to post their adventures online.
NE: You completed all of the challenges yourselves, of course. What do you think were your most notable escape plan adventures?
K&J: Well, we’ve done many of the challenges several times – it’s really something that can be done over and over again and you get different results. Some of our favorites have been when Kim celebrated the first “Hump Day” of the year by making camel shaped pancakes and getting her picture with a camel at the local zoo (Challenge #2 – Instaparty: Find a reason to celebrate and do something to celebrate it.) and Jason was pretty excited when he made green eggs for breakfast as a part of Challenge #24 – Outside the Lines: Figure out a way to add some color to your day in a new, unusual, or wacky way.
Lately, we’ve been filming some of our escapades as part of Escape Plan TV. It’s a new project we’ve started since we do so much travelling. In a soon to be released episode filmed in Colorado Springs, we had a chance to feed some giraffes with our mouths.
NE: A lot of people have trouble with taking the first step in an escape plan. The survival instinct makes it difficult to leave comfort behind in favour of adventure. What’s the best way of setting out?
K&J: Yes, the desire to stay firmly in our comfort zone is a powerful instinct, and a breeding ground for Adultitis. The good news is that the Escape Plan is unlike a diet or new workout routine; it’s actually fun! If someone is having trouble getting motivated, we recommend doing the Escape Plan with a friend. You can hold each other accountable and have fun sharing how you’ve each decided to solve each challenge.
NE: You have a book out called ‘Escape Adulthood’. Which came first, the website or the book?
K&J: The comic strip we do and its characters started everything. Then, Jason wrote Escape Adulthood as a way to really fine tune the idea of what it means to be more childlike. Then we cooked up the Escape Plan and the corresponding website in an effort to come up with a tangible system to help people deal with their Adultitis.
NE: There is something to be said for a guerilla approach to art and your website seems to have embraced this. You have developed an industry around yourselves by developing your own comic strip and your own videos. Is there a particular secret to getting noticed when you “do it yourself”?
K&J: We are both big fans of Seth Godin, author of Unleashing the Ideavirus and Purple Cow. His ideas have been a big source of inspiration. Basically, we’re just trying to be ourselves, have fun, and create a remarkable experience. We try and make it easy for other people to spread the idea of [the] Kim & Jason [canon]. We’ve tried many different things – some of which haven’t worked very well – and are not afraid to experiment with new technology. One cool thing about the Internet is that it gives you access to so many people. In many ways, it’s a great equalizer. However, it still takes a lot of effort to network with people and get the word out, but the Internet makes it much easier than it ever was before.
NE: We always seem to be running from something or to something. We want to quit our jobs; we want to quit this city. No one seems happy with where they are these days. Why do you think people are so bent on escape?
K&J: People look for meaning in life. They are disenchanted and fed up with the stuff we’ve all been fed through the media and the advertising of big corporations. There’s way more to life than chasing after the next big thing, “keeping up with the Joneses”, and buying “stuff” to make us happy. Children have a built-in purity, wisdom, and happiness that we often overlook and that is definitely worth tapping into.
NE: Finally: what one piece of advice would you give to the world on how to live a fulfilling life?
K&J: Don’t take yourself so seriously. Take some time to slow down and appreciate the little things. Don’t worry about what other people think of you. And finally, be yourself. Be the person you believe you’re supposed to be (and what that looks like is different for everybody). That’s really the only way you’ll be truly fulfilled in this life.
Kim and Jason Kotecki run the Kim and Jason website and comic archive from www.kimandjason.com. The escape plan can be found at http://www.escapeplanblog.com. Jason Kotecki’s book, Escaping Adulthood is available from Amazon.