Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sharing the Stories - TEDx Fort McMurray

I wrote this yesterday but as it often does life got in the way and I just never hit the "publish" button. TEDx Fort McMurray is on Saturday June 8th, and as I sit here this morning in my favourite chair I am a bit stunned to realize one week from now it will all be over, and I will likely be sitting here in this chair again, trying to wrap my head around an experience that I suspect will be hard to put into words.


It's a bit hard to believe it is only one week away.

I have been preparing for a long time, it seems, from the decision to audition to the day I learned I had been selected to last week's rehearsal. And next week, one week from today, it will all come together when I take the stage at the Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts at Holy Trinity High School. I will stand on the red circle, in the bright lights, a spot from which I gratefully can see few faces, and deliver a speech.

It isn't really a speech, though, it's a story, one I have now practiced dozens of times, both alone and with my patient coach Joelle. It is a story I know well, and one that I have wanted to share for some time. And next week I will, at the second annual TEDx Fort McMurray.

Last week I sat in the darkened theatre and I watched the other presenters. Each one left me in awe, for different reasons. Their passion, their ideas, their thoughts, their stories. Each one left me thoughtful, and at the end of that day I walked away feeling both excited and overwhelmed. I was in fine company, I realized, some far more talented than me, and some with far more interesting ideas to share. I realized that while I had been excited about TEDx prior to that I hadn't really understood what it was going to mean - for me, or for those who attend.

What it will mean for me is a chance to tell a story, and I am, in essence, a storyteller. I am still suffering badly from nerves, and I find myself worried that I will stumble during the telling. I am a writer, not a speaker, and so I fear that I will somehow lose my audience along the way, or disappoint them. But this is something I have never done before, delivered a speech in front of a large crowd, but next week I will do so, hands shaking.

What it will mean for those who attend is likely far more interesting. I believe, in my heart, that every person who attends this event will take away something new. A new idea, a new understanding, or simply a new appreciation for the stories they have been told. I believe that every person who attends will be grateful that they did, because as I sat in that darkened theatre last week I was profoundly grateful to have heard the stories that were shared that day, and one day soon I will be excited to share them with my readers, too.

The presenters at TEDx will not tell you what to think, or how. They will tell you their stories instead. Some of us will tell stories that are personal, while some will share things of a more academic nature. Some will make you laugh (guaranteed), and some may make you cry. I do know, though, after having listened to them that every presenter has a story worth telling - an idea worth spreading, which is what TEDx talks are meant to do.

When I auditioned for TEDx so long ago now I did so with some anxiety, because I was nervous about sharing my story. One of my very basic beliefs, though, is that we all have a story, and all of our stories are worth sharing with others. I think in the end it is why I write - to share stories, whether they are my own or that of others. And in the end that is why I auditioned for TEDx, despite my nerves and my own self-doubt about my abilities as a presenter.

Next Saturday, June 8th, I will walk out onto a stage, and face the largest crowd I have ever faced at a public speaking event. I will wear the custom-designed, hand-made shoes I had specially crafted for this event, because I had an idea that it would take on some significance in my life, this moment on a stage. I will share my story, but more importantly I will join with ten other people who will share their stories, and who I have come to respect and admire. I will join ten other people, all of us nervous about our time on that red spot, and all of us ready to share a story with you. We will join the legacy of those who have presented at TEDx Fort McMurray. And we will, I hope, spark dialogue, thought, and maybe even change, whether it is personal, professional, or social.

Next week my daughter, the Intrepid Junior Blogger, will be in the audience too, and I am incredibly excited for that. It will be the first time she will hear the story I am telling, but that isn't really why I am excited. It is because when I heard the other presenters I knew that their stories were ones that would resonate with her, and that she will come away with some new ideas and thoughts, and that the presentations will likely spark conversations for her and I that will last for days. I think it may change her world, perhaps ever so slightly, but alter it in some way, and for the better.

Perhaps you have never watched a TED or TEDx talk online, and perhaps you aren't even sure what it's all about. Perhaps you aren't sure who this TED guy is (and it's not a person, but rather an acronym for Technology, Education and Design). And perhaps you aren't sure if you want to spend a beautiful summer Saturday inside a darkened theatre listening to some talks. All I can say is this: I am beyond proud to be among those who will present at TEDx Fort McMurray next weekend. I am, in fact, honoured to be in the company of those who I think have every chance of changing hearts, minds, and lives. And maybe, just maybe, if you choose to attend then one of those hearts, minds, and lives will be yours.

My tremendous thanks to the
TEDx organizing committee,
the volunteers,
and all those who have brought
this amazing event to our community.

My thanks and my respect
to all my fellow presenters.
I cannot really say what I think  and feel 
about sharing a stage with all of you.
I am, simply, honoured to be in your company.

To my patient and wonderful coach
Joelle -
thank you for your support, 
your ideas, and truly your friendship. 
You are the exact right coach I needed!

To those who will attend 
TEDx Fort McMurray -
thank you in advance.
Thank you for coming
to hear our stories,
to share our ideas,
and to be there for a moment
that some of us - like me -
will never, ever forget.

Tickets to TEDx Fort McMurray
are available through application

Just a sneak peek at the McMurray Musings
TEDx shoe ;)

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