Yesterday I spent twelve hours at the TEDxSomerville conference cycling between feeling nervous, exhilarated, overwhelmed, and, if we’re honest, sometimes a little sleepy. What can I say, it was a long day.
Of those twelve hours I spent a mere ten minutes onstage. I was so honored to be there, standing in front of a rock-climbing gym full of my friends, strangers, and neighbors. Ever since I was a little kid, nicknamed Tallulah for my dramatic exits, I’ve always loved to perform. There is nothing more fulfilling for me than sharing a true, deep moment with another person. Or with several hundred other people. Yesterday was a perfect example of that kind of moment.
But the best part wasn’t when I was onstage. The best part was afterwards, when people took me aside to tell me what they make or what they found out that someone else makes. One couple told me that they had taken my challenge, gone up to a stranger, asked what she makes, and found out that she was a sculptor. A guy who teaches down in Connecticut showed me, beaming, what his shirt said: “I make a difference everyday.”
The day continued with an after-party at Aeronaut Brewery –yes, they did let me in with a very carefully marked DO NOT SERVE wristband– where I met a scientist who makes catalysts, a husband and wife who make 3-D prints of Minecraft, and a woman who makes furniture. Towards the end, flamenco guitarist Juanito Pascual gave us a follow up concert while co-host Devin Bramhall and I pretended we knew how to dance flamenco.
And then, this morning, my alarm went off at 7:30 and it was time to get up for work. My arms were sore from the exercises Bekka Wright, mastermind behind BikeyFace, and I did to get some energy for our session three talks. In fact, my whole body felt like a two-year-old turning her nose up at vegetables when I told it to get out from under the covers. But get up I did and I drove my forty minute commute through rain and hail to go sit in an office where a few people politely asked how my talk went before we got down to work.
Now, I know that some people are cynical of TEDtalks. All of these wide-eyed speakers claiming they can change the world one inspirational line at a time. What they’re missing is that all of us wide-eyed idealists show up to work the next day. Drained and slightly deflated at the way daily life pales in comparison to a TEDx conference, we still try our damndest to get as close to our lofty goals as we possibly can. I always tell people that though I will fight my entire life to reach utopia, I hope I never get there. Because then what do we have left to make?
The true value of an event like TEDxSomerville is as much about we do the day after as it is about the event itself. It’s getting up the next day to shift through emails, business cards, and tweets you didn’t see, taking the time to reach out to each person who has reached out to you. The time to develop the community of which a day like TEDxSomerville is only one (wonderful) piece.
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and then we’ll be happy.
because it is you.
and passion is easy.