Away is Here I wrote as the title of my TEDxMia talk application six weeks ago.
Two weeks ago I heard that I was on the shortlist of fifteen applicants out of almost seventy and was summoned for an audition.
Through the stage door at the Adrienne Arsht Center I went, up the elevator and into a quiet and impersonal office where I sat and waited, straining my ears trying to hear the genius inspiration on the other side of the door.
All I heard was muffled voices.
I checked my check list like I was cramming for an exam. My key words and new statistics like the plastic industry employs over 1 million Americans, is the third largest US industry, generates about 450 billion annually, and each American consumes and disposes of about 300 pounds of plastic per year, ten times more than in 1960, and that we have produced/consumed as much plastic in the last decade as we did in all of the 20th century.
Then the door opened and two TED potentials (male variety) walked past me, looking ever so pleased with themselves.
I wanted to run. Like in the other direction from the judges, three female and one male, who were left behind in the room. But they invited me in and told me to sit at one side of a large conference table while they faced me across the great teak expanse.
You have fifteen minutes, they said, to tell us why you should be a TED Miami speaker next September.
Wow, this is a first for me, I thought. Like a huge fucking first.
J Lo, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson came to mind while I worried about flubbing my well-practiced spiel.
See, I’m not a natural performer. At least not historically speaking. Yes I’ve done public speaking, to as many as 300 people, but I never sought it out.
I didn’t seek this out either. This TED audition American Idol style. I applied because I was given no choice by two enthusiastic friend-fans who sent me the link to the TED application form, like daily for two weeks, and kept asking whether I’d filled it out yet. I did not want to disappoint them, and also my approach to Plastic is Forever has been to go with the energy that is generated by the project itself. Which means say no to nothing, and trust that the path is right and unfolds as a I move with it. ( A Zen approach that’s also very new for me and has come with age and a better understanding of the way expectation can screw with process).
Anyway I’d filled out the application with the integrity beach plastic pollution deserves. Putting into words my passion to take this orphaned material and introduce it to the design world as something new, something desirable and create a new way to approach beach plastic ownership.
So I did my spiel. Or rather I started with it and then, as happens with this project, it took its own direction. It speaks for me as if the message is so burning, so urgent, so real that my simple mind has no control over it. Really! I know that sounds ever-so New Agey, but what I mean is that I engaged the people in the room, they became curious, started asking question and then the subject just directs itself.
Next they asked to see my images, and when that was over my fifteen minutes were over and I got a wee appreciative applause.
Well, I thought, at least I did not hear any applause for the two guys who left before me. Ha!
Now I’m hanging in suspense, checking my e-mails several times a day, while I tell myself that I really do not care, that I am fine without it, that getting it will just be fabulous, but but but…
Of course I want it. Once I put my name in the hat, my spiel in the ring, myself on the line, there is no going back emotionally.
I LOVE TED talks.
They are awesome and I must be a TED talker.
I have entire arguments in my head convincing whomever why I SHOULD be a TED talker. I put my imaginative competitors ( I have no idea who they are) down for having old and stale ideas (I have no idea what these might be).
I have become a fierce TED competitor.
I do not want to be send home.
I do not want to be voted off.
I want to do an awe inspiring Ted talk.
And I want it NOW!