I have to say, this weekends trip to New Jersey and Jon’s TED Talk was a bit of a roller coaster ride. Just driving in Jersey, with the traffic and congestion, well, I’m from Long Island so I’m no stranger to it, but when you live in upstate New York, you forget what it’s really like.
My nerves were jangling and so were Jon’s. For him it wasn’t just the energy level, it was coming back to the place where he spent so much of his adult life. The place he left to move to Bedlam Farm. So between the two of us, we were a bit out of sorts.
The talk went from 9Am to 3pm. We got there sometime after 11 and Jon was talking at 2:30. Into our second or third talk, I started to feel the panic. There were charts and graphs on the giant screen before me. Suddenly I was back in school, in science or math class, the speaker was speaking a language I couldn’t understand one that didn’t hold my attention. I started to fidget, my leg shaking up and down, and then the din of feeling trapped fell over me. I was paralyzed. I was a kid in church, what seemed like hours of sitting still and not being able to leave, stretched before me. I was visiting my grandmother. Something I had to do everyday of my childhood after school. Sitting silently across from her, as she talked on and on in broken l English, my heart pounding, trying to think of an excuse to leave. Trapped, once again I was trapped. This is not what I expected from a TED Talk. I started to get angry. I imagined myself walking up on stage and strangling the speaker. How dare she make me sit here and listen to this. How dare she make me look at charts and graphs. And then it dawned on me. She wasn’t making me do anything, I wasn’t trapped, I didn’t have to stay. Quietly, I got up and slipped out the door in the back of the room. Knowing I could leave and actually leaving was enough to break the spell. When the talk was over I went back into the room. I pulled out a sketch pad and a pencil from my bag. If I could doodle, I could listen to almost anything. And that’s how I spent the rest of the day. Listening and drawing. I found some of the talks more interesting than others. Some had visuals that made me put my pencil down and look as well as listen.
So it turned out to be a good day, for the speakers who got their message out to a crowded room of people and for me. I got to exorcise an old fear and do some drawings.