Mornings with TED

An unfortunate day for this fellow

An unfortunate day for this fellow

Some days I feel like this unfortunate fellow.  Like a fish out of water. Like I don’t belong. Here. In middle-earth Alabama.

After nearly three years I am still struggling with the fact that this is where I live. Mind you, I love my house and am supremely grateful that I have a beautiful roof over my head.  Plus, I have met a few folks here that are genuinely lovely people. Still…’s Alabama.

I am mindful that some days are rather lovely…when I don’t think too hard about the place but rather more about…well…anything other than the place.

TED is helping too.

I am beginning to love my mornings because they are with TED. We’re together for about 55 minutes each morning. All my attention is wrapped up in TED, and often it spills well into another an hour particularly when I’m feeling extra needy for stimulation ….

Brain stimulation that is.

What else were you thinking?

I’ve started listening to TED Talks via my Stitcher Radio App each morning as I walk The Poodle. For those of you who aren’t in the know: TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED , (founded in 1984) is actually a global set of conferences run by a non-profit foundation. TED Talks are a compilation of a plethora of scientific, cultural and academic topics often told in a storytelling format that never fails to engage the listener. I’ve yet to turn off an episode out of boredom! Speakers from around the globe share their knowledge and insights on a given topic at the annual conference series. Each speaker literally has eighteen minutes to share their knowledge and ideas as entertainingly as possible.  On Stitcher, I listen to the TED Radio Hour hosted by NPR’s Guy Raz. Mr. Raz guides listeners through an hour of a themed TED topic and his interviews of TED speakers are as interesting as the TED topics.

Someday, I’d love to attend a TED conference but I doubt that would ever happen.  Attendance at a TED conference is by invite only and costs thousands per person; it’s a good thing one can access TED talks online for free!  TED welcomes a mighty impressive range of speakers from around the world to the TED stage. There are prominent scientists, authors, medical professionals and technology gurus as well as other notables from former Presidents (e.g., Bill Clinton), former prime ministers (George Papandreou) to neuroanatomists like the incredible Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor.   She survived a massive stroke at the age of 37 and amazingly documented her eight-year recovery in rich detail in her book Stroke of Insight.  Here’s her TED Talk:

Online at one can positively lose themselves for hours on end in the dizzying array of TED stories, over 1900 TED talks, enough to tempt and tickle brain cells for years!

And, through all these early morning hours that I am spending with TED, I’m even coming to a deeper understanding of myself. For example, just the other day I listened to a TED talk about Play. Listening to the episode was illuminating and certainly made me think more about the critical importance of play in our lives even into adulthood (how didn’t I understand this?).  It was interesting to learn how play shapes us and what happens to us in the absence of play during childhood (let’s just say it’s very disturbing).  I’ve never felt particularly young and light-hearted; I’ve been a serious soul since as long as I can remember anything.  So it made perfectly common sense to hear that kids who experienced more episodes of all types of play (and there are many) in their young lives (even play that involved video games, which BTW, in moderation makes kids smarter) were more creative and empathetic individuals. The TED Talk gave me much to ponder upon, so much so that I called my sis and shared one of my insights I had gleaned from that TED talk.

My sister is ten years younger than I.  She rarely had a babysitter as I was the one who took care of her; changing her diapers, dressing and bathing her, as well as entertaining her as best I could, given that I didn’t have a lot of exciting play experience under my belt.

“I know why you are the creative one in the family,” I said.

“OK…um why?” asked sis.

“Because I played house and school with you when you were just a tyke. Remember how I’d spread blankets in the hallway upstairs, just outside of your room–you weren’t even walking yet– and we’d have pretend tea parties and the like?”

“Um…no. I don’t remember.”

“We’d even play with your dolls together, remember? And jacks too, at least once, if I recall when you were older?”

“No…I don’t remember.”

Sigh.  I’m trying to get some credit here!

Like me, sis has some childhood amnesia. Mine more severe than hers, but still it’s there all the same. It was our way of surviving the mess of our parents. No telling what would come spilling out if we chose to undergo hypnosis in psychotherapy! I say some things are probably best left unearthed.

Still I believe that my sis benefited from my awkward attempts at play when she was a baby. She grew up to be a very creative and beautiful soul. She paints and does amazing at various craft projects.  My creativeness?  I didn’t play much with anyone other than myself–and there certainly wasn’t much frolicking and rough-housing with parents, so I suppose it explains in part why I’m good at drawing stick figures and not much else. I do have, however, a deep appreciation for art and beautiful things.  Aesthetics are crucial to my sense of comfort and well-being.

Thank God I found TED. I don’t need psychotherapy to get me through any deep-seated questions I have about myself or the world around me. I have TED.  One could argue that I’m becoming a better person because TED nourishes my mornings.

So…. let’s see.  What do I want to learn about tomorrow….

Hmm.  I scan the list of titles online.  How about: Depressed Dogs and Cats with OCD-What Animal Madness Means For Us Humans.

Perhaps I’ll learned something useful about The Poodle’s annoying licking habit.

The possibilities are deliciously endless with TED.

So, until the morning, I’ll go about my daily grind smiling as I do as I’m getting a little better at play.  Really I am. I’ve got a MONK bobble-head on my desk that will nod to that.

Bobble head and other desk distractions

Bobble head and other desk distractions

p.s. For the record, The Poodle is not “mad” but he makes a certain someone batty when she hears that repetitive slurping-licking sound in the middle of the night.

2 thoughts on “Mornings with TED

  1. I never seem to have time for TED, although I really enjoyed the Malcolm Gladwell talk on the Norden bombsight of WWll “pickle barrel” fame. It struck two cords, one in that Gladwell is among my favorite authors, and the second, that my Dad used one in WWll, and lived the strategic implications of it in a daily life or death environment.

    Not working the past couple of weeks due to lack of work, but also finding that it consumes too many of my few productive hours in a day. Not sure what the eventual outcome will be. I am getting more riding in, but it is frustrating to find myself in the worst condition of my life. I’m consoled somewhat by the fact that anyone who isn’t in the worst shape of their life at 61 (in a month) wasn’t in shape when they were younger.

    Picking Jean and the girls up at LAX this afternoon on their return from HI. She’s still thinking of retiring next year maybe March, which will be a major change for us.

    Nat had to withdraw from UCLA this quarter due to her depression. A real disappointment as she’s been tearing it up. The meds always seem to stop working at some point, and she reached that point on her current one. Poor kid got the depression that runs on both sides of the family.

    Naomi will be heading back to her apartment in a week or so. She’ll be a senior (!) this year Regards, Ed

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Good to hear from you Breakfast Buddy! And, as always, you never fail to make me laugh. Yes, Rocket-man would agree with you too….work consumes too many of his productive hours too (Though I tend to disagree with him only because the honey-do list of three items I’d left for him to do over the weekend while I was away was not completed! “What were you doing all weekend?” I asked.)

    And, like you, I lament in being in the worst shape of my life. As you know, I’m not taking this aging thing very well. I do take comfort in knowing that in my 58th year I’m in better shape than many of my peers because of all those years of running, etc. I’m not on the bike consistently and again, I blame it on Alabama weather. Case in point, our ride was called off yesterday due to bad weather. I am setting my sights on a 75-mile ride event in September for MS. I’ll be hitting you up for a small donation then! 🙂

    Sorry to hear of Nat’s setback but she’ll be back in the game, I’m sure of it. Life is a journey, not a race after all; one step at a time…sometimes forward, sometimes back. It’s a roller coaster of a ride (more so for some than others) to be sure. She will walk her path slowly but surely and she’s lucky to have the support of a loving family to see her through. Best of luck to all of you….and great to hear Naomi is doing well too.

    I can’t wait to get those paddle board lessons from you should your lives take you back to the big Island!

    Until then, Aloha 🙂


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