I end this day, like most days, grateful. But this one gets special mention.
I am grateful that my gut said, “Nancy, after months of nursing your injured knee and body along, you need to feed your intellect and your soul. Take thee to TEDxEast and just be open to receive.”
All day, and I mean all day, this is what I did. Opened my mind and heart. Opened my mouth on the breaks to engage people as we ate lunch and sipped coffee. At this terrific space in The New York Times building with lots of stairs, I allowed myself to be OK with the fact that I can only walk up and down steps one at a time because, hey, I am healing quite nicely from surgery and this is part of the deal — infinite patience.
As I relaxed into my cushy seat for the first of four sessions, I was greeted with an opening talk by Keith Yamashita called “The Other Side of Separation.” I cannot do it justice here, but let me say that it was about loss, connection, fear and love.
Loss. The first talk. Loss.
How could he have known that part of why I needed to be there was to put aside the feelings around the loss of my friend Kevin that continue to haunt me over two months after his sudden death? But that’s the beauty of it, right? The universality that Yamashita knew was in his theme. Undoubtedly it hit everyone in the room in some profound way.
For me it was like permission and space to feel my feelings and be with them. I settled in for the next talk and the next. Thirty in all. So varied in topic and tone. Divided into four categories — the left brain, the right brain, from the inside out and reframe. So thoughtful and rich.
Grateful hardly covers it.
I am grateful to Gillian Grassie for being an indie harpist/singer-songwriter and telling a beautiful story. And I am grateful to artist/architect Maya Lin for creating on a scale that is almost beyond my comprehension. And to Ross Martin, executive vice president at Viacom Media Networks, for completely upending my image of someone in that role by reciting T.S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens. As for 13-year-old Cassandra Lin, I don’t even know what to say about this acclaimed entrepreneur and her idea to turn waste cooking oil into biodiesel that has already helped keep so many families warm.
And these are just a fraction of what I heard today. I am blown away. And grateful to live so close to New York City and its endless, endless stream of spark and crackle.