I had no expectations. Maybe that’s why I got so much out of it. I showed up with a clear mind, alone, notebook in hand.
Seeing diversity was the first thing I noticed. Not just young, creative people. But all ages, all walks of life, all colors, all genders.
The screen welcomed us with our own words. What we did, what inspired us, what delighted us, what we stood for.
“I empower others to achieve their goals.”
“I use art to initiate positive change.”
“I do random acts of kindness.”
I instantly connected with that statement. This was going to be good.
I was attending my first TEDxCharleston. This was the fourth annual TEDxCharleston, intended to stir hearts and minds toward creative empowerment, towards a better community. I signed up on a whim. Basically, because I could. A weekday event that would have been taboo a year ago with a busy work schedule. I had watched some TEDtalks on youtube, but otherwise had no exposure. I was really excited, and it wasn’t long before I found my inspiration.
But it took a minute. My energy was high then it slowly morphed into a feeling of inadequacy as I listened to 14 off the chart speakers and performers shine their creative spirit, their unique magic, telling their own stories and dreams for positive, transformative change in the world. They were all exceptional in their vision and ability to show their passion.
And there were a few that truly connected with my heart.
Jack Alterman, a Charleston native, accomplished photographer, and author of My City Charleston, shared his process for documenting East Siders Matter. A photography project that literally showed us our neighbors that we have overlooked. And through his lens, we saw the look of love in their eyes. He inspired me to continue to connect with my neighbors. To look everyone in the eye, to say hello, to initiate a conversation, to find common ground.
Jackson Silverman is 11 years old. At the age of 7 he started a non-profit I❤Hungry Kids. He works to provide food hugs: food and love combined to feed over 16,000 kids in Charleston County that go hungry every weekend. Since April 2013, Jackson and his team of kid volunteers have planned, coordinated and inspired other kids to participate in packing party events. Jackson believes kids can change the world and to date, over 21,000 bags have been packed. I guess he’s right.
Kate Jerome got our attention with her Dad’s idea for Rent-a-Bastard. As she lovingly shared what her Dad meant by that, and how she misses him, my heart hurt knowing that void. An author and publishing executive, her message was on intergenerational connections,“For the first time in human history, old age is not a problem, it’s a goal”. We need to embrace vertical connections, connecting young with old and integrating age diversity in all aspects of our life – in our relationships, our communities, our workplace.
Marcus Amaker (shown) and Quentin Baxter gave us poetry and percussion. Marcus, the first Poet Laureate of Charleston, stole my heart with his poetic cadence, his beautiful words. Joined by the jazz of grammy-nominated Baxter, Marcus’ words danced towards changing the rhythm of our hearts so you could feel the vibration of the poetry. You must listen to his work and I predict you too will be searching for an open mic poetry event in Charleston, featuring Marcus Amaker.
After seeing the accomplishments and talent of so many others, my world felt small. My life perspective felt limiting. I had to fight the tendency to think, “I could never do anything like that”. Slowly, with each talk, I shifted my thinking to why not me? What is my special talent? How can I make a difference? And then I just let all that inspiration soak into my cells. I let my dreams expand. I let go of limitations. I reminded myself of what I love to do, what brings me joy. And I committed to just keep doing it. I was exposed to new things, things I have never seen, never heard of, or that I had forgotten that I loved. And isn’t that what our journey is all about? Tapping into what brings us joy, exposing ourselves to new thoughts, new ideas, new adventures and connecting with others.
Creating our own growth spurts.