Only Connect

My TEDx experience was deep and wide.  Over the next few weeks I will share some of my ah-ha moments with you.  


On Sunday, two days before the big event, I gave my talk to a group of about 15 people. My body tingled as I embodied the emotions associated with the different parts of my talk.  A part of me stepped outside of myself and observed myself feeling the emotions.   After I gave my talk, I had another engagement I had to hurry to.  When I left the room with my family, I came back into my body which was filled with the anger, the sadness and the joy I had just embodied.

On Monday, I walked the labyrinth and connected with the purpose of my talk, understanding that my message flows through me, but is not about me.  Though I talk about forgiveness by sharing my story, Forgiveness is the main event, not me.

Tuesday.  The big day.  All the speakers gathered in the theater for a last pep talk.  I listened as the organizers and some of the speakers oozed support and love.  I soaked it in.  I felt a deep connection with each of these people and yet I barely know them.  We were connected by our unified vision to share our individual messages and our willingness to do so with honesty, vulnerability, and authenticity. There was no other way to do this.  We sat in the dimly lit theater affirming, in each others’presence, how precious this moment was.

After lunch; it was almost time.  I listened to a few speakers before it was my turn to leave the theater and put on my microphone.  After it was attached behind my ear, I shut my eyes.  I thought back to Sunday when I felt so open and honest giving my talk.  I remembered walking the labyrinth on Monday and connected again with my message of Forgiveness.  I held the confidence that I knew my talk inside and out.  My mind and spirit were ready.

My body, on the other hand, was betraying me.  My heart was pounding so hard I thought it was going to explode out of my chest.  I found a quiet place to talk to myself.  “Okay primitive brain, you’re okay.  No danger here.  Everyone out there wants me to succeed.  All is well.”  My heart continued its incessant pounding.   I didn’t understand.  I’ve given speeches to crowds twice as big as this one.  I was prepared.  I was confident. The drumming of my heartbeat reverberated in my ears.  My mouth became so dry I could hardly swallow.  I took small sips of water.  When there was just a minute to go until I was introduced, I tapped my wrist with my fingers, trying desperately to calm my body down.

I staggered as I stepped up onto the stage.  My heart felt like it was going to explode out of my mouth.   I stood in the center of the red carpet.

And then I heard someone talking.  The woman speaking after me was in the hallway practicing her talk, but her microphone had accidentally been turned on.  A sudden burst of hustle and bustle as the stage crew tried to turn off her mic and figure out why mine wasn’t working.

I stood alone on stage.  I looked up at the audience and we all laughed.

We just laughed.

My heart, filled with the loving connection I felt from the crowd, immediately slowed down into its natural rhythm. The laughter dissipated my fear and led me right into fear’s opposite:  love.

I continued standing there, waiting.  And, awkward though the moment was, I felt peaceful.  I took a few deep breaths and was filled with gratitude for that serendipitous moment which allowed me to connect with the audience, to connect with the loving energy of forgiveness.