Note: Today's post is a reprint of my Sunday Courier-Times newspaper column. Inspiration comes in many forms and for me, most recently it arrived through my discovery of TED Talks (TED.com), courtesy of Dr. John Dickey, a retired optometrist in New Castle. He'll celebrate his 99th birthday soon, and he is one of the most interesting -- and interested -- people around.
A few weeks ago, Kent Kemmerling mentioned that he attends TED Talks at John Dickey's home.
Where have I been? I had never heard of the talks which number in the thousands. I figured "TED" meant a guy, maybe a man of considerable influence and intellect whose name I should know but don't.
A simple Google search provided multiple links to the world of TED Talks where I quickly learned that TED is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design in the form of a decades-long series of speeches — or talks, if you will — on anything and everything by experts on said topics. These experts are able to condense complex information in a way that inspires, encourages, challenges, and motivates. And even if the thousands of talks didn't do all that, they do with certainty accomplish the mission of spreading ideas.
I knew if Dr. John Dickey was a part of the talks, they were worthy. I've written about Dickey's handmade clocks, and our newspaper and the evening TV news have covered his autograph collection, and his travels.
I've always been impressed by his spirit of adventure, optimism, engagement, and yes, brilliance. I hadn't realized that he will be age 99 next month. Yet he enjoys new ideas, loves technology (and uses it adeptly), and enjoys sharing intellectual thoughts with those who fill his home weekly for the TED Talks -- which he hosts.
When I got the official invite to attend a Talk and write a story, I was delighted. In fact, I didn't mind Sunday night at all last week as I eagerly awaited Monday morning and my first experience with TED.
I may be obsessed.
When I left the gathering my head was spinning from the speakers, the new ways to look at math and science. I watched Yves Rossy spiral through the air with his Jetman wings as though a bird in flight. Amazing. I was inspired by Jim Yong Kim who sees beyond poverty and limitations and wonders why people everywhere can't have a shot at good lives.
I marvel at these brilliant people. From each Talk, I tried to imagine my own takeaway. I will never be good at advanced math concepts such as the gifted Roger Antonsen. But his challenge was to create the ability to change your perspective and see it in a new way. I can do that.
I will never have a bestseller as author Anne Lamott. But I left over-the-top inspired by her to come up with my own list of truths I've learned from life and writing.
I would be too chicken, if I even had the unlikely opportunity to soar through the sky like Jetman Yves Rossy who appears birdlike. Footage from his flights will take your breath away. But I sure can apply his tip to "always have a Plan B."
Now I have an idea that I can't shake. I'd like to get together with a group of friends where our agenda is to present our own TED-inspired talks. How fun would it be for each person to bring a surprise talk or activity or craft or reading or talent or song or musical representation to the table and wow us all with -- something. Something that inspires us. Challenges us. Delights us. Or even if it doesn't, makes us proud that our friend was gutsy enough to put it out there.
How about you? Would you and your friends consider devoting an evening or an afternoon to a sort of TED workshop? Or at least select some videos, play them for your group. Then see what happens. I think you and your friends will be changed.
Donna Cronk is Neighbors editor at The Courier-Times and edits the quarterly her magazine for women. Connect with her at dcronk@thecouriertimes or call her direct line at 765-575-4657.