TEDxJackson 2015 – Reflections

photo (1)I was fortunate to attend the TEDx event in Jackson, MS this past week, and several people asked me about my ‘take-away’ from this year’s event. I decided to put together a few reflections here, both to share my experience and to help organize my own thoughts.

The theme of this event was “Liftoff” – with the stated program of “insightful talks full of ideas for propelling our city, our state, and our world to new heights.”

My take-aways from events like this tend to be quite personal. Yes, many of the talks addressed wider topics like city planning and even space exploration, but I typically process information through the prism of my own life. Whether I’m hearing a talk or reading a novel (or even listening to music), my perspective is the same – how do I relate to this? how do I learn from this? how do I apply this to my life? how can this make me better/more fulfilled? what do I want from what I’m taking in?

My biggest take-away, as a compilation of the day – stop wasting your talents and your life. Stop being complacent. Stop simply accepting what you’re handed, and instead seek something better. Seek what you want, what you dream, what you know can be achieved. Stop wasting time. Stop wasting life.

It was a struggle, in my reflections, to hear myself pulling out these thoughts. If I need to stop doing certain things, then it means I have already been doing them. Damn. And if there are things I need to start, then (obviously) it means I’ve ignored these things in past. Damn.

The men and women I listened to on Thursday had one common trait that floated to the surface for me (though they certainly shared much more) – they chased the life they wanted. They chased what they believed to be important. They accepted no substitute. Many of them sought lives and situations they could use to help others, but they applied themselves unwaveringly to achieving their goals. Of course, I knew this already, but I found my time listening to these particular people and their stories hugely inspiring.

A few other things I wrote down during the day:

  • Literature takes us away, but most importantly it brings us home again, settles us…literature works as both escape and empathy. (from comments by the author Katy Simpson Smith)
  • Music is the perfect construct for 21st century learning, since learning music is always experiental. New experiences in life create new neuropathways in the brain – students today literally think differently than those of the past. (from comments by the musician and educator Dr. Robert Blaine)
  • “When an old person dies, a library burns down.” (quoted by the photojournalist, writer, and teacher Alysia Burton Steele, author of Delta Jewels)
  • Think wrong, break the status quo, and you can do something unique and important. (from comments by designer and entrepreneur John Bielenburg)

Once the videos from this event are posted, I plan to share a few of my favorites with some additional thoughts. And I can’t wait to go back next year!