Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Last weekend, because of the wonderful library I work for, I had the opportunity to go to TEDxKC.  Before going to the event I had only watched only a couple minutes of TED Talks videos, which were silent due to the fact that I attempted to watch them at work : ), so I went to TEDxKC with a completely open mind. 

By the end of the evening, my mind and heart and faith in humanity were all brimming over.  Because I never found my coworkers, I sat alone and somehow managed to get a seat at the tippy top center of the Kauffman Center.  Even though every sudden movement or noise made me feel like I was falling several stories I was still enamored and inspired by the talks.  It opened with The Louisville Leopard Percussionists, a group of children playing an assortment of instruments, including xylophones, which just happens to be my favorite instrument.  I wasn’t cool enough to figure out what rock song they were playing but it was zingy and happy and thoroughly terrific.  Martin Pistorius was by far my favorite speaker of the evening.  Every word he spoke felt like a kick in the stomach.  His fight for words made me speechless.  And yet, by the end of his talk, I felt like I was heavy with words I was ready to give away and more than willing to be a little bit more receptive to communication that is easy mistake as silence. 

During intermission I contacted Robert, who graciously drove me to the event, and told him I was ready to go.  While I had greatly enjoyed myself during the first session, I was very uncomfortable with the idea of sitting at the top again and feeling like I was falling every time there was applause or movement.  Robert suggested I ask a volunteer if I could move, and out of respect for the library I took off on a mission to find the sweetest, most grandmotherly volunteer and inquire about the possibility of moving.  She was empathetic and without hesitation, told me she was going to talk to the boys.  After telling the boys (two more kind volunteers) my situation they said that they thought I could stand up in the back on a lower level unless there was an empty seat for me.  I thanked them profusely and asked if I had time to use the restroom.  The grandmotherly volunteer then proceeded to give me instructions on how to get to a restroom that she was sure would be near empty.  I had only mentioned my newfound heights discomfort to her, but the grandmotherly volunteer must have known somehow that I was also struggling with the crowds.  Astonished, I thanked her and turned away.  As I hurried to the restroom, the boys told me they would take care of me when I came back. 

Sure enough, when I came back they had found me a seat in a lower level. 

While I did not enjoy Yawpers, which was an uncomfortably loud rock band, I thoroughly enjoyed the second session and was blown away by the speakers. 

I learned so much during this event, it’s tough to lay it all out. 

Terri Trespicio: Passion is an emotion so it changes.  Grow with it.  

Listening to Terri made me realize that I am one of those lucky people who know from an early age what they’re passionate about and then having that exact dream come true as an adult.  However, even though I recognize that I am incredibly fortunate, I still had several hiccups on the way to achieving my dream of writing poetry and working at a library.  And they were mostly fun hiccups, like the detour where I flirted with the idea of becoming a sign language interpreter.  Thankfully, I was terrible at ASL and easily found my way back to my dream of working at a library.  Terri's message was a great reminder that I don’t need to kick myself for briefly changing my path. 

Dr. Barmak Heshmat: I barely understood what he was talking about.  However, I completely understood his Star Trek reference when he talked about the tricorder.  I’m not sure I ever want to sleep in a floating bed, which I think he said he was working on, but if he finds a way to make music visible I can definitely get excited about that.

Martin Pistorius: Watching his talk made me bump up his book, Ghost Boy, to the top of my list.  When he said he had so much love to give and no one to give it to I felt like I was falling in an entirely different way than the feeling of falling from the balcony. 

Scott Hamilton: My favorite thing about Scott Hamilton was the combination of his whispery voice and his giant sense of humor.  He made this very funny joke about what his personal ad would say if he wasn’t married, which I will totally let you watch so it isn’t butchered by me.  At the end of the talk, the host asked Scott how he thought it went and Scott said that it was hard, but he was happy he got through it.  I am too.  His advocacy for proton therapy made me hopeful for the future of cancer treatments. 

Chaz Ebert: Empathy is the world’s most powerful instrument for social change.  I need to continue reminding myself this each day, especially at the library. 

Ashley Dara Dotz: Another lesson in emphathy, but from a different angle.  Rather than just helping people, empower them. 

Dr. Audrey Odom: Three words: Electronic nose technology.  I was blown away by the idea of reimagining the use of a breathalyzer to track infections in a person’s breath. 

It was truly an eye-opening and moving event, and I am grateful I had an opportunity to experience it. 

And I’m grateful that the volunteers at The Kauffman Center were understanding and able to accommodate me so that I could enjoy the whole show. 

1 comment:

  1. Grandma has been watching Ted Talks on the computer before us. She talks about it and I will admit to watching a couple myself but it took your exuberance to push me forward. Mom is over the moon that we are going to see our first Ted Talks and I am pretty darn excited myself.