Leave your mark.
As many places do, Room 301 had a guestbook for people to leave their mark – but this was no ordinary guestbook. The Room 301 guestbook was filled with a series of prompts and questions for our guests to engage with, and we were thrilled that they went far beyond our expectations and the guestbook took on a life of its own.
We started by asking guests to describe the most important defining moment in their lives – a moment that they can look back and say their life is divided into “before” and “after” that moment. Here we saw the circle of life in a snapshot – the death of a parent, both suddenly and to prolonged illness, the birth of a child, a drastic change of career, divorce and even a moment where one guest definitively decided to stop caring what other people think.
When asked about their biggest fears, the most common answers were fears surrounding death (“that I will outlive my children,” or “that there is no consciousness after death”), relationships or loneliness (“that I will be alone for the rest of my life” or “I will not find someone who truly understands me”), fear of missing out (“FOMO,” really!, or “that I will miss something because I’m not paying attention”) or failure (“not living up to my potential” or “growing old and not accomplishing a fraction of what I set out to ”). Interestingly, advice or wishes given to “the next person to stay in this room” were largely around taking risks. It seems that even as we fear failure, we still want to push ourselves and others to step outside our comfort zones. The other big themes in advice were around the fleeting nature of life and the importance of being present and grateful, as well as the idea that your attitude can set the tone for your experiences.
"I hope you find enough to still your heart."
— Room 301 Guest
We also asked our guests if they had ever done or been the recipient of a random act of kindness. Interestingly, all of our guests shared examples of random acts they had done for someone else – none shared that they were the recipient of such an act. Many of the random acts shared surrounded helping the homeless – one guest even gave a homeless man the socks off of her own feet – while others assisted animals, donated money to various causes and one guest even gave a ride to an elderly woman walking alone up a hill in Hollywood, only to discover she had been a very famous actress in the 1930s.
"The happiest memories spanned family moments, big moves, relationship milestones and even someone who had the chance to dance on stage with Prince. Food (pizza, coffee, chocolate), friends, romance, family, snow, Zumba, cats, and art all showed up as answers to "what makes you feel most alive."
From there, the guestbook took on a life of its own. One guest shared a travel memory from his youth -- his father used to give him a $5 bill whenever they traveled together -- and taped $5 to the guestbook imploring another guest with children to take the money and give it to their child to create their own travel memories. Someone took the money and responded with their gratitude and thanks on the same page. Guests also left their own questions for other guests to answer -- “what’s your favorite late-night snack,” “do you collect anything” and “if you could quit your job right now and do something new what would it be?” among them. (For the record, we highly recommend trying the guest suggestion of ice cream with pop tarts crumbled on top, and Room 301 guests would like to be bohemian painters, write for travel magazines, review hotels worldwide or open their own B+Bs.) Someone left a riddle in the guestbook referencing “silly laughs” they hid around the room for other guests to find. And line by line, five different guests wrote the following poem together:
"Into the infinte future, with bold optimism and intent.
Everyone with their hopes and drreams, hoping they won't be broken or bent.
Keep going and don't be spent, your struggles and doubles will come to an end.
Light shines brightest in the morning, darkness may come, but it will always fade until only the light remains.
Remember to love,
remember to be loved."