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Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm the richest person in Austin @TedXAustin

Once the TedXAustin videos and photos are up, I will start adding photos and switching out the videos.
I love TED.com.  I really do, and TedXAustin 2011 was my third TED experience.  Each of my TED experiences have been uniquely different, and left me even more certain that I was deeply in love with TED.

My first TED was TedXAustin 2010.  I thought the energy in the room was tremendous, the speakers and attendees were equally amazing, and I was infatuated with connecting to the awesome people I had met.  My second TED was TedXUT 2010, in which I was the live tweeter.  Live-tweeting for a conference is extremely mentally draining.  Not only must one pay full attention all the time at the conference, one much also quickly synthesize the content and post it into short 140 character messages.  I also respond and join conversations when I'm live-tweeting, which makes it only about a million times for difficult.

My TedXAustin 2011 experience can be described with several words: reflection, sharing, compassion, and understanding.  This experience had energy that was different from the others.  Many of the speakers spoke about pain, confusion, heart ache, and triumph.  I didn't leave thinking that I was going to change the world, but I certainly did leave feeling a wider range of emotion than on a normal day.  The day started with an engaging performance by Mother FalconMother Falcon was like the liberal Austin version of classical music.  Performance and style like that kind of make me wish I didn't give up on the piano 10 years ago.  I was in awe.



Another emotion expressed on stage was gratitude.  Gilbert Tuhabonye was that man.  Even though he came from Burundi with the scars of warfare, this man glowed of sunshine.  As an adolescent, he watches as his friends turn into his enemies and his other friends turn into the victims of beheadings.  Though his body was burned, he managed to escape by literally running away.  Running thusly became many things to him.  Gilbert also sang to the audience, a song he sang while running as a child.  And we mostly tried to sing back in tune.  I can't wait for his video to be online so that you see this someone who runs with joy.

JoaquĆ­n Zihuatanejo expressed many other emotions. Emotions that my overactive mirror neurons picked up.   Joaquin isn't just a poet.  He made poets.  He was an English teacher who took def poetry by the scruff of its neck and shook some crazy passion in it.  This embedded video isn't of his performance at TedXAustin, and but I do hope that it will be soon.  One of his poems hit close to home.  It was about a deaf student named John.  This deaf student name John reminded me of my own experiences teaching last semester. It was a striking reminder, and a reminder that though we live in the same physical space, our worlds are completely different. 



Another interesting theme at TedXAustin was on being rich.  No, I'm not talking about money.  I'm talking about having a rich life.  I think my life is richer than foie gras mousse served on pao de queso and covered with butter.  My life is rich with experience - the experience of driving all over the 48 contiguous states, the experience of working in prisons, the experience of driving on an autocross track, the experience of training and handling the top most titled dog of my breed in the world, and the experience of launching a cupcake at a zombie. My life is rich with friends, family, and community.  My life is also rich with opportunity, and lastly, my life is rich with food.  And after another great TedXAustin experience, I'm the richest person in Austin (self-proclaimed of course). 

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