Stepping off the treadmill

Every once in a while, things feel a bit shit. I’d been feeling like that lately: a bit ‘meh’.

I’ve been tired, agitated and in need of space to think beyond putting one foot in front the other on the proverbial treadmill. But this particular treadmill is dodgy, it has its own mind. One minute it’s running along nicely and I am plodding at a manageable pace and the next the speed has cranked up and I am hurtling at breakneck speed hanging on for dear life. Then it reverts back to steady mode and I think ‘what the hell happened there?’

So, yes. Life has been hectic. Then along came Torquay’s inaugural TEDx event.

If you’ve never experienced a TEDx event then, briefly, it’s an offshoot of TED, a not-for-profit organisation devoted to spreading ideas.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and covers an incredible range of subjects from science to entertainment to global issues. TEDx events are independently organised and help share ideas in communities globally. Events usually have speakers giving short, powerful talks often in 18 minutes or less.

img_4194-1Torquay’s TEDx focused on themes of wisdom and innovation. Talks covered how digital technology and improving health outcomes, the fight for equality by a British Asian restauranteur, how sports practices are being effectively used to tackle isolation and (my favourite) how one woman is championing legitimate entrepreneurship to help people out of crime and into business. Live speakers were interspersed with screened TED/TEDx talks recorded from other events worldwide.

Fittingly it was held in Torquay’s Museum an Aladdin’s cave of collections and exhibitions celebrating the area’s incredible history from archeology to its people. Notable local innovators include crime writer Agatha Christie and explorer Lt Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett. img_4189

During breaks between talks I lost myself in the building’s exhibitions; peering into the past from the frozen wastes of Antarctica to sitting in a perfectly recreated 1860 Devon farmhouse.

I stared at beautiful objects from late Palaeolithic naturally-occurring material to exquisite hand-crafted items from Devon marble. I found wisdom in the people and the place; innovation in what they had achieved and created.

In that day, the day I started feeling agitated and fed-up, I ended feeling filled with wonder; like I’d fed my brain with learning and inspiration. I had stepped off the treadmill. Through the day I scribbled notes of what I learnt. I looked back at them later that night. One leapt out at me:

“Don’t look at your shoes when there are big horizons ahead of you.”

Here are five of my favourite TED/TEDx talks.

Simon Sinek – How great leaders inspire action.

My boss introduced me to this talk and whenever I feel confused about the message I am trying to get across I always go back to what Simon says: start with why.

Christopher Bell – Bring on the female superheroes!

I love Marvel and I love Disney. I now love Christopher Bell’s badass daughter too. But I dislike the lack of visibility for female superheroes in toys and games. It’s up to us to change that.

Ingrid Fetell Lee – Where joy hides and how to find it.

A gorgeous celebration of colour, light, pattern, shape. I defy you not to be a little bit in love with Fetell Lee by the end of this captivating talk.

Handspring Puppet Company – the genius puppetry behind War Horse.

Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler explain how they brought to life Joey, the bay Thoroughbred from Devon author Micheal Murpurgo’s War Horse for the stage. This talk was screened at TEDx Torquay and I had a little weep because it’s so gorgeous.

Suzanne Simard – How trees talk to each other.

When you’re considering holding a pity party for one (like I have been), watch this and be in awe of the world around us. Pity, begone!

Do you have anything TED/TEDx talks you’ve watched that provoke thinking and conversations? Comment below to share!

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I'm a writer, journalist and communications officer based in the South West of England. I write about wellbeing, the outdoors and life in a rural playground.

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