On Saturday I attended TEDx Birmingham 2015. The day was filled with inspiring speakers and making connections with new people as well as continuing connections with several people I have recently met in the Birmingham area.
The theme for the day was “Moving Mountains.” Whenever I think about moving mountains, I think back to my trip to Israel in 2010 and seeing the palaces Herod built on mountains. Nothing is impossible. The speakers reinforced that with their stories about accomplishments. The musicians inspired us. Check out Unknown Lyric out of Atlanta. Amazing! (see http://youtu.be/qWksxJCOF0Y)
The day was divided into four sections: Shift, Detour, Tunnel and Blast with several speakers in each section. There was time in between sessions to talk to other attendees and to the speakers, grab coffee and other local treats.
The day reinforced many of the things I have been thinking about over the past several months. Life is short. How long do we have and what will we do to pursue our passion? It isn’t just our passion, however. What will we do to make the world around us better? That world can be our neighborhood, our city or far broader. Making a difference, large or small, is important.
Experiences and stories about my own life, those who have influenced me, and the choices I have made came to mind throughout the day. Liz Huntley asked us what our “game changing moment” was in life. For her, the game changer was a teacher who believed she was the smartest child in the class. Mike Saag shared three lessons from the AIDS epidemic: Be aware, organize, and Stop being afraid to show passion. Our health care chaos could be improved if we followed this advice. Tracey Abbott reminded us that “we can choose what we see” and that the good stuff lies in the detours we take in life. Venkata Macha, a high school senior, shared his story about reaching out to world class scientists with a question about creating a test to detect cancer. His willingness to ask the question and take the chance led to a summer working in a lab at Harvard and to an invention of his own before he has even graduated from high school.
The title for the blog post came from the final speaker, Kent Stewart. Stewart, and his wife Julie, have climbed 6 of the 7 highest mountains in the world. Everest is the final one and this spring will be his third attempt. (The first time they turned around and last year the climb was cancelled.) Stewart challenged us not to let comfort rob us of the experiences we we want to pursue. “There is an Everest waiting. Take the first small step.”
I have pursued a series of small steps towards my goals and passions (read: my goals and passions as opposed to what people who are not listening to me at all want to force me into). I will continue in the small steps as things come together. I’m watching more for opportunities and taking them. Life is too short not to pursue the detours and really live.