Each month I have tried to use one of my new 52 weeks to talk about a person or personality who has been an influence on my life. In past weeks, I’ve talked about the Blessed Mother, Mary, journalist Ezra Klein, artist and author Brother Mickey McGrath, writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, writer and actress Carrie Fisher, and St. Elen of Caernarfon.
With Gishwhes beginning at the end of this week, I thought that I would briefly introduce this audience to Misha Collins.
I became aware of Misha through a friend of mine who convinced me to join his gishwhes team, which ended up being all full up. That’s another story, though. Gishwhes is the acronym for its description: the greatest international scavenger hunt the world has ever seen. Misha pronounces it gish-ways; I pronounce it gish-weeeessss.
In addition to Gishwhes being a scavenger hunt, it is also an opportunity to move out of your comfort zone by being creative, artistic, and kind. Part of the fun of gishwhes is trying new things, meeting new people, working together as a team even if you never meet them, and connecting through art and kindness.
Misha’s an actor who I’ve seen several times before although I don’t remember any of the ones before Supernatural.
He’s married and he and his wife, Dr. Victoria Vantoch have two children. They live primarily in California, but also spend a large chunk of the year in Vancouver where Supernatural films.
Misha began the charity, Random Acts in 2009, showing his fans how to direct their energy to make lives better by doing small, seemingly insignificant things, but that were huge things for the families involved, and of course, as anyone who does any kind of volunteer work knows, it gives great joy for the person on the giving end of things.
Some of the bigger things that Random Acts has done over the years has been bringing hope to Jacmel, Haiti after the island’s devastating earthquake, building a free high school in Nicaragua. Last year, they helped two Syrian refugee families, and this year they began a crisis support network to help those in danger of suicide and self-harm. Sometimes, all you need is someone to talk to at the right time. it doesn’t make it all better, but it does help.
Recently, he’s been involved in political issues like resisting the current Administration’s and Congress’ rollback of civil rights and environmental protections, and encouraging petitions and supporting candidates across the country. Many would say that this isn’t the role of a mere actor, but this is not out of the realm of his skill set. Of course, any member of society can and should involve themselves in politics and political causes, but in his case for the many naysayers out there, he went to the University of Chicago for public policy, and was an intern at the White House during the Clinton years.
I attribute what I did yesterday with my kids directly or indirectly to Misha’s influence as well as my experiences in Gishwhes. I saw a friend’s post on Facebook about something going on in the capital. I thought that it would be fun to visit, and maybe I’d take the kids on Friday or sometime next week. I looked at the clock, pretty much decided to miss church, and go back to sleep when I was jolted. It wasn’t anything paranormal or a voice in my head, but suddenly, I was bolting out of bed, waking my two youngest kids, telling them they had ten minutes to be ready: we were going to church, breakfast at McDonald’s, and then a huge surprise.
They were not terribly put off, although they don’t usually go with me to church, and they really don’t like it very much, but they didn’t argue, they didn’t badger me about what the surprise was, and to be honest, they were extraordinarily well behaved and cooperative all throughout the day, never once complaining about the heat or that they were hungry.
I’m not sure i would have had the energy or the wherewithal to just get up and go like that if I hadn’t been participating in Gishwhes for the past five years. It wasn’t as though I was doing anything crazy; just a little out of the ordinary.
And that’s what I should be teaching my kids. There are times for order, and there are times for spontaneity and surprises. Except for breakfast (and the subsequent parking ticket), this was a free day. And it was so inexpensive that I treated them to another surprise on the way home: 50c Frosties at Wendy’s.
Misha Collins is that bee in your bonnet, Mona Lisa smile, Jiminy Cricket, and he’s the friend who pushes you just a little, but holds on so you don’t fall. And he’ll bring the band-aids.