Monday, November 18, 2013

TEDx Albany - The Ghost of Jack Kerouac!

TEDx Albany!

Thursday, November 14th, 2013 was TEDx Albany at Overit Media. It was a fantastic event, and an opportunity for me to check an item off my bucket list, give a TED Talk!

Overit Media is a great venue, housed in a renovated church. It's open and creative in the speaking venue was intimate (think snug). We started at 9am, discussing running, and beer, and how pirates are ultimately responsible for global warming! E-security, and women, and how we need to adapt or die! The speakers and topic were wonderful, and I was lost in the day.

2pm rolled around however, and I panicked, "sweater or no sweater?!" Overit was very warm, and surely I'd be uncomfortable, but Gavrielle (15) informed me, "the sweater looks cool dad, you have to wear the green one."  I donned the sweater, and at 2:04, The stage was mine! "I'm in love with cities I've never been to..."  I wasn't prepared for how nervous I was as the talk began.  It occured to me, these people spent money, and expected something meaningful for their time. My voice and body soon found their groove, and the "Ghost of Jack Kerouac" was off!

I talked about Jack's typing, about meeting him...on Facebook, and about my daughter. And then, something happened.  Something magical, and it crept in like the fog of San Francisco. I began to connect with the audience. The hat lady, the beer guy, the race car driver. Our eyes began to meet. Not a corporate "we," but rather, one by one. Her eyes, his face, their gaze. Suddenly it wasn't me telling a story, but rather, WE were on a journey in San Francisco, chasing ghosts together! We rode a cable car together, shared a poem "...exploding like spiders across the stars," and even a shot of bourbon! As the story wove on, my stolen gazes became intention moments...eye to eye, dare I say, soul to soul? As if I were speaking to just one person, and at the same time, talking to everyone.

When it was all over, I was humbled by the responses. "Great job," and "How much of that was real?" and "I was there with you on the cable car..." Kind people delivering wonderful feedback, "I loved the way your words and voice worked together." I was thankful for the feedback, not because I needed the ego boost, but because I really wanted to know how it worked after laboring for so many hours to get each piece just right. I'll quit there, this isn't the 'Chris is great hour!' But I will say that delivering my TED Talk was one of the most meaningful moments in my life. Not the opportunity to perform, but the opportunity to really connect with others. To engage in that conversation that TED is all about. Meaningful conversations with wonderful people who share this "TED thing". Somewhere I decided to be bold and engage a half a dozen people out there directly, looking deep into their eyes for a few moments too long. It felt like my first jump from an airplane...terrifying and thrilling at the same time...and involving real risk. They didn't look away. I could see their faces engaged and smiling and enjoying the story.

I'm a different man today as a result of this experience, and I think that's what TED is all about. I'm especially thankful for that race car driver who was vulnerable enough to answer my question, "what did it feel like when I found your eyes on the cable car?" "It was great, I was there, it was like you were talking to just me, even though I knew you were talking to all of us...and it wasn't creepy." Phew!

I'm thankful for TEDx Albany, for Gavrielle, for Overit Media for the amazing venue, for those 100 people who will hopefully never look at Jack or SF the same way again, and for my sweet bride and family whom I tortured for months.

My audience of 0 was mesmerized ; )

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