X Marks the Spot with a Dot, Dot, Dot: Reflections on TEDxSeattle 2013
These are my reflections on some of the ideas I encountered at TEDxSeattle 2013. You may still be able to watch a recording of the livestream here. Eventually, the talks will be available individually online. I begin each section of my reflection with the name of the speaker who inspired these thoughts.
I wanted to jump out of my seat right then and there.
Run home, grab my daughters, go for a hike in St. Edwards State Park.
Even a short hike would do the trick.
Too much screen time is killing them. Killing me.
We forget that when we disconnect from the earth, we are disconnecting from our body.
And we begin to hate. Self-loathing leads us to build walls around our soul and traps us in boxes of shame and fear.
But nature is sexy, alluring, seducing, calling me to return to the lover of my soul.
I harken to the call.
I take my daughter for a walk on the earth and begin to love myself just a little bit more as the pouring rain trickles down through the trees onto the earth.
Earth – the very substance from which we were formed. We are but dust. Dust of the earth.
Is it true that all we are is dust in the wind?
I am more than that. I am here now. I am staying. I am not floating away into some ethereal otherworldliness someday. The rain has mixed with this dust in the wind and reminded me of my form and substance. I am a body. I take up space. I inhabit. I breathe the wind.
(Brad Lichtenstein, ND, BCB)
Yes, I breathe the wind. I cannot forget to breathe. My spirit breathes.
And my heart beats.
I feel the wind.
Sometimes the wind gets knocked out of my sails, but my body sails on.
I take courage and raise the sails again hoping to catch a peaceful breeze as my heart beats to the rhythm of the waves rolling under me.
I breathe the wind into my life.
My body, my spirit, my soul unite to sail into the unknown.
To be inspired. To inspire others.
This is why I breathe. As I breathe, I listen for the words and then I write.
I write my story.
Not just for me. Not just for my healing, though my writing does bring me healing.
I write for you. I see your pain. I hear your struggle.
Those experiences we’ve shared, like a brother from another mother, we inhabit this story together.
We are not alone.
It’s not all about me.
I want to know about you. I want to know what you know.
I’ll show you mine if you show me yours?
They say it’s better to show than tell.
Maybe I will become a story-shower.
But my story is only a small part of a bigger story.
It’s big. It’s really big.
This story we inhabit, it’s too big.
Even my small part is bigger than me.
I can’t show my story.
I don’t know where to start.
They always told me I talk too much anyway.
I’ll just ramble and nobody will see me.
It’s just too big to fit into a book.
And I’m too small to do the work.
But wait, what if I break it down?
Can I get from here to there?
Can I tap into my human potential and scale this wall of impossibility?
Step 1: Spill my guts – write the narrative. Type up all the gory details.
Step 2: Lay the framework on top – move the pieces into place.
Step 3: Add the layers of other people’s stories.
Step 4: Edit and rewrite.
Step 5: Send it to the publisher.
When I break it down, it’s really not that big.
I can overcome this fear.
This fear. What is this fear?
Is this fear a friend or foe?
This fear that motivated me to write my story is my friend.
I did not want my girls to fear men or to fear sex.
Like I did.
I feared my dad. I was hurt by many men.
I would not let that happen to them.
I will teach them. I will show them. I will love them. I will keep them safe.
But there’s a fear that is my foe.
What if they don’t hear me.
What if they shut me out.
What if nobody wants to hear my story.
I’ve identified the fear.
My dad is not so powerful.
He cannot ruin me.
He cannot silence me.
He said children should be seen and not heard.
He called me motormouth.
He told me to shut up.
I am not a child.
I will not be silent.
I will tell my story.
I will show my girls there’s a better way.
I will show them there are good men in the world.
I will talk to them about sex. And it will be good.
I will write this book. And it will be good.
Now that I’ve faced those fears square in the face, a new threat begins to cast its shadow over me.
My four girls know more about sex than the average bear, but what about money?
What about debt?
Will they be able to pay for college?
Will they sign their lives away because the money is so easily offered to them?
Will they spend their earnings on fun and frills because someone else is paying their bills?
How do I teach them this truth?
How do we subvert this broken system of worth?
They are so much more than a college pedigree.
Maybe the work I did talking to them about sex can help me here.
We can help them set healthy limits.
We can help them take ownership of their education.
We can help them choose who they want to be in long-term, potentially lifelong relationships with.
Will they enslave themselves to the government or a bank for the rest of their lives?
This kind of slavery is nothing like the horrors of sex trafficking, but it is a trap nevertheless.
I hope they will find a way of escape.
I will teach them to be survivors,
To fight the subtle oppression of rising tuition costs.
They will rise.
Like a strong tree.
The lessons of poverty served me well and will serve them well too.
My father’s parents were poor.
He worked his way through college.
He made his way up in the world.
He felt like a king – king of some imaginary hill.
But the oppressed soon became the oppressor.
My mother’s parents were not so poor.
He married her to marry up. Then he shoved her down.
She became poor. She left his money for good reasons.
And she took me with her.
He made me pay for half. She couldn’t pay the other half.
I did it. I worked hard. I payed the debt.
I didn’t go to Stanford. He wouldn’t pay his half of the price.
And the tuition rises like a swollen river after a storm, even higher than before.
But they are strong trees.
They will bloom and grow wherever they are planted.
We don’t all need to be ivy plants.
They come from a long line of struggle for equality.
Survival is in their blood.
They will not forget their roots.
They are strong trees.
But they need more than hard work to bloom and grow.
The playful rays of sun must dance on their leaves to nourish their inner being.
While their roots are firmly planted in the rich soil of their ancestors toil,
Their branches must spread into the wide open spaces of leisure and fun.
They must learn to drink in the sun.
Recreation – it’s like turning over a new leaf.
Re-creation – making something new out of something already there.
They will discover their true selves in the playful places.
They will create the best versions of themselves in wide open spaces.
And they must do it over and over again.
We must make space.
On our way to drop her off at Montana State.
We will play.
Jellystone park is only a couple of hours away!
Let’s go play!
And that hotel with all the great pools and slides.
Let’s stay an extra day!
The pressures of rising tuition and writing deadlines must be pushed away.
We will take time to play!
Watch out Jellystone, we are on our way!!!
We are on our way to finding the kind of magic that can change the world.
It’s all about connection.
These are just some of big ideas I connected with.
Ideas worth spreading. Great speakers worth listening to.
In one way or another, each speaker inspired me.
Inspired: filled with the urge to create.
Inspired to be a better version of me.
Body, soul, spirit me.
I am not just dust in the wind.
I am grounded.
I am connected.
Touching the earth.
My daughters lives.
Making the impossible possible.
Being the degree.
Degrees of global impact.
In Mexico: Karen visits an orphanage every spring break
For Thailand: Katie researches and raises awareness to stop sex trafficking.
For Africa: Kelly and Kimberly raise money to dig wells for clean water.
This is just the beginning of their stories.
And I am still writing mine.
They are magical stories.
We join our voices together, like the slam poets we heard,
As performers and witnesses.
Performing and witnessing the magic all around us.
We join the chorus of the bigger story.
And sing with the trees.