How SXSW is Like Visiting Morocco

I leave for my first SXSW Interactive experience on Friday. I've been madly RSVPing, organizing and making sure I have everything covered and planned. Then my dear friend and veteran SXSWer Tara pointed out what's obvious in hindsight.

You can't plan.

You can't see everything and meet every person there.

It's impossible.

Give it up sister.
This woman is seriously wise. It reminded me of a lesson I learned while in Marrakech.


You can't control chaos. The Medina where all the souks (shops) are located is a confusing mess of zig zag, crooked streets. A map is useless. I gave mine up on my first afternoon allowing myself to be thrust into the chaos, trusting that I'd get where I needed to go--wherever that was. I let go of control and let the Moroccan culture reveal what it wanted to me. One of these revelations was a young artist named Benjou who I spent several afternoons with learning Arabic and him practicing his English while sipping mint tea. One of my best memories ever on a trip, it wouldn't have happened with a map stuck in my face.

I try to remember this every time I try to over-plan, over-control, over anything in my world. As I embark on my first SXSW adventure here's what I'm keeping in mind.

There is chaos.

From the chaos arises exactly what I need.

Even if I don't know I need it.

I just have to trust it and...
Enjoy the ride.

That's my mantra for chaos that is a major event like SXSW. How do YOU handle uncontrollably chaotic situations where "maps" don't work?