I feel I should start this by being as honest as I can. I didn’t want to go to TEDx Truro.
The thought of missing a day of work had me feeling slightly nauseous. Being self-employed, there’s no one to pick up the slack and there’s very little space in my diary between now and the New Year (something I’m very grateful for). I’m busy and I’ve got a lot to do. Could I really justify taking a whole day out of the office to go?
Equally, how could I turn down the invitation from Stafford and Jarrang (one of the sponsors) to be one of their guests for the day? The answer is I couldn’t, so along I went, with worry gnawing at me about the work I knew I’d have to catch up with.
Lesson learnt: just like never saying no to a free lunch, never say no if you have the opportunity to go to a TED event. I promise you, you won’t regret it.
I expected inspiration, I expected ideas and I expected learning. What I didn’t expect was to be wiping tears from my eyes while listening to Hayley Goleniowska tell her daughter’s story, or the heartbreak of hearing the bullying Susie Green’s daughter was subjected to, or the hammer blow of the twist in The Man Engine’s Will Coleman’s tale of death and resurrection.
This went wildly beyond expectations. It’s easy for us to take so many things for granted. Rarely are we challenged to step out of our comfort zones and look at our world in a different light or through different eyes. This is what TEDx Truro did.
Barriers, be they the ones we see, the ones we don’t or the ones we simply aren’t aware of, are everywhere. They exist for all of us, in someway, both in our personal lives and professionally. Moving beyond them can be a challenge and is far from easy. But the rewards of moving beyond these barriers are enrichment, enlightenment and a deep gratitude for being present on life’s rich tapestry.
By their very definition, barriers limit us. They prevent movement, they are obstacles to overcome. And we’re obsessed by them. From Trump’s wall to Brexit, there’s a populist surge to protect ourselves by building barriers, physical and metaphorical, to keep out the ‘other.’
Not only did TEDx Truro give a voice to the other, it showed us what can be done when trust in our imagination, courage and determination, from the mind-controlled piano through to rowing the Pacific Ocean. It showed us what we gain when we champion diversity and inclusion. It showed us our prejudgements are as big a barrier to us as any other we face.
Is it such a leap to imagine a future where we move past these barriers? Where we celebrate our differences rather than fearing them? Where we shed the burden of fear and unleash our limitless potential by daring to do things we’ve never done before? Where our capacity for empathy, kindness and love supersede our hate and the darker parts of our nature?
Perhaps. But then if we think about the future too hard we lose sight of the present. And if there’s one thing I’m left with after TEDx Truro, it’s the importance of being in the present, of not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future but, instead, cherishing the moment.
I didn’t want to go to TEDx Truro. I could’ve spent the day tapping out words on a keyboard, I’m so glad I didn’t and I’m incredibly grateful to Jarrang for inviting me. I’ve now got a head full of ideas worth sharing and a conviction to go beyond my own barriers. The videos of the talks will be published online in the coming weeks. I’d urge you to watch them and be inspired to do the same.
Jarrang were one of the sponsors of TEDx Truro 2017 after also sponsoring the event in 2016.