Serfbliss started as a year long journey where James Beck set out to serve a family in every state for three days. Some were familiar faces while most were complete strangers. James met many of these people for the first time when they answered the door. The only thing he asked in return was that they ‘Pay-it-Forward’.
Starting on April 1, 2011 and finishing April 1, 2012, James traveled over 30,000 miles to give his time to help others. The tasks were usually a surprise. It ranged from the mundane to the physically taxing, from emotionally gripping to mentally exhausting. He did everything from farm chores to speech writing, helping victims of natural disasters to babysitting, revamping a small family business to cleaning homes. In Wisconsin, he helped plan a party for the 20th anniversary of a heart transplant. In Arizona, he served on the Navajo reservation. In Ohio, he took the sons of a deceased war veteran fishing, completing a promise unfulfilled.
Serfbliss was the first step towards creating a ‘Pay-it-Forward’ social movement. The project crosses religious, socioeconomic, and cultural lines. James served single mothers, elderly folks, bachelors, and young couples. People across America committed to participating. Those served range from atheists to Baptist ministers, Tea Party Advocates to left wing supporters, from farmers to business owners, from a Harvard professor to contestants from the NBC show ‘The Biggest Loser.'
Technology connects people in the virtual world, but it tends to disconnect us from human contact. Serfbliss was a yearlong test to see if a person could thrive in society by existing in a constant state of giving. Since it was a success, a few friends are reverse engineering the experience to grow practical applications from the concept that promote selfless giving.
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Hey Dad, remember me
On Father’s Day 1999, my dad and I were asked to speak at a Church in Tacoma, Washington. Until that point, our story was a secret. The community thought us Becks were the perfect family. The truth of life was far from the image we projected. After we told our story, hundreds of friends lined up to ask how we ‘did it’. Unable to summarize a decade of relational work in a single moment, I promised to write a book that journeyed from suicidal dysfunction to relational wholeness.
In 2001, I moved to Los Angeles to learn how to write and gave myself ten years to complete the book. “Hey Dad, Remember Me?” is the story of how an innocent child raised by good-hearted people believes suicide is the answer. It takes the reader on a journey through the mind of a suicidal child, then into the father’s shoes. This enables the reader to remove judgment in order to objectively observe how the situation can be created. Readers pull for the father, rather than demonize. It gives good-hearted parents hope, no matter what mistakes they made.