The last 4 weeks have come down to this. 7 drafts, 9 rehearsals, and 100 recitations later, I am T minus 48 hours from giving the performance of my life.
This process of preparing for TED has been transformational on many levels.
Working with my speaker coach and the TED curation team has evolved my writing to a level it couldn’t have gotten on its own. For the first time I was getting professional feedback on a craft that I already felt strong in. TED showed me the greatest respect by pointing out my every flaw.
“What’s the purpose behind this sentence?”
“That didn’t do it for me.”
And to this day the best, most accurate criticism I’ve received:
“You’re going too wide. You need to go deep.”
Every time I thought my draft was polished I’d get another critical evaluation. Changes. Edits. Rewrites. It got to the point where I finished my final edit just 9 days before the event. TED was not kidding when they said we would have to do many, many drafts. I’m just glad I didn’t hit 20.
This endeavor also brought forth, or should I say revealed, the importance of several people in my life. These are folks I’ve known for months, or in some cases years, but have only recently grasped the real meaning of their relationship with me. People who were once friends from a common hobby solidified themselves as lifelong companions. A woman who has been sporadically coaching me in gymnastics showed herself as the mentor I’ve been waiting for. A formerly loose acquaintance with awkward jokes surprised me as a strong advisor and catalyst. And an ex-girlfriend revealed herself to be a kindred spirit.
Perhaps this realization of others was a result of work I’ve been putting towards myself. The ending of a relationship allowed for getting reacquainted with the old me. I started re-reading all of the influential books in my life. One of these is Way of the Peaceful Warrior, a novel about a gymnast, who with the help of a mentor, journeys on the path towards self-realization.
As I read through the familiar chapters, I started noticing just how much their contents were running parallel to my life. Less than a week before I got the nod from TED, I start on Book 1 “The Winds of Change”. I begin chapter 3 “Cutting Free” during a phase where I was struggling with mental blocks in my physical practice.
I started paying closer attention, and more signs showed themselves in other books. During a bad spell of selfishness where I seemed to be annoyed by everyone, I start a chapter in Sacred Journeys of the Peaceful Warrior about opening your heart and giving to others. When I felt incredibly dissatisfied with my job, I read in A New Earth about how the act of complaining only strengthens the ego.
The signs continue to come, not only through text but also in music. The other night at dinner I hear a song that I’ve never heard play anywhere other than on my computer. It was a chill out remix of Greece 2000, a classic trance song from over 10 years ago. Nostalgia flooded me as I was taken back to college, where I was a person deeply immersed in his own struggle for self-realization. It was one of the most introspective and lonely periods of my life, and ironically the setting where my TED talk starts off.
Another song followed, and I recognize it easily from the intro. Let Go by Frou Frou. I first heard it when I watched Garden State, a film about a man who finds himself by visiting his past.
This was getting very eerie. Let Go. It was like someone made a soundtrack of my life and was playing the tracks to guide me through each moment. The lyrics filled the air:
So let go, so let go. Jump in. Oh well what you waiting for?
“Okay” I told the universe. “I’ll do it”.
TED Blog Series
Part 6: 5 Powerful Lessons I Learned as a TED Speaker
Part 5: My TED Talk
Part 4: The Day Before TED
Part 3: Back to the Past – Returning Home for TED
Part 1: 4 Weeks to Inspire the World – Becoming a TED Speaker