My TEDxBerkeley Experience

Sunday, April 21st, 2013 by

I woke up yesterday morning at 5:50am…but didn’t get out bed until 6:20am, which meant I had about an hour to shower, get dressed, packed my performance outfit, makeup, shoes, etc., feed the dogs, have breakfast and get in the car to go to the UC Berkeley campus.  I drove past Zellerbach Hall, happened to turn left onto the first accessible street so that I could pull over and find the email message with parking instructions.  Turns out, I’d pulled up directly across from the designated parking lot – on the opposite side of the street, but in the minutes before making that realization, a long line of cars had queued to the end of the block, trying to get into the same lot.  As I maneuvered to get myself into the line, I saw the parking attendant waving people away, saying “this lot is full”.  Undaunted, I drove up and told him that I was one of the performers for TEDx.  He looked back at his fellow parking attendant and she yelled back “there’s one more space”.  How’s that for serendipity?  And thus began my first TEDx day.

The piano

My badge

I’ve been a fan of TED Talks for many years.  My first experience was watching the beautiful and highly emotional 2007 talk by Randy Pausch about achieving your childhood dreams (if you haven’t seen it, you MUST watch: Randy Pausch).  This wasn’t technically a TED Talk, but I saw it on and was hooked from that point forward.  I’ve since watched dozens (if not 100) TED Talks and was absolutely honored when I received an email message inviting me to participate in the TEDxBerkeley 2013 event.

The TEDxBerkeley 2013 topic was Catalyzing Change.  I decided to allow the invitation to perform to serve as the catalyst to change my experience from writer’s block into inspired composition.  I created a new solo piano work as a reaction to being invited to perform!  The new piece is entitled “Catalyst” as a result.

I was asked to be at Zellerbach at 8am for sound check, although my performance wasn’t until 3:30pm. Knowing this, I’d been going to bed super early (read: 10-11pm) all week, and was not worried about fatigue.  Thanks to being there pretty much all day, I was able to meet, listen to and enjoy the camaraderie with most of my fellow speakers.  I was utterly impressed by everyone involved, and their topics: the $60 tablet computer (Kim Polese), the sun saluter (Eden Full), the Beyonce tribute (Golden Overtones), Foodiness (Erica Wides), the underground economy (Robert Neuwirth), Flamenco dance (Yaelisa), the brain and gender (Louann Brizendine), dark matter (Alex Filippenko), following one’s heart (Cecily Sommers), Drone robotics (Chris Anderson) and glove lightshow dancing (Ambience)!  I’m sure I would have enjoyed Curt Tofteland, Mallika Chopra, Karen Sokal-GutierrezDan Millman (the Oberlin connection!) and Ananya Roy, but I wasn’t able to see their talks.  I even enjoyed my own performance!

At 2:30pm, I left the auditorium to prepare myself for going onstage.  Once dressed, I went to the piano room (located in the basement) to warm up.  At 3:20, I was told that the schedule was running 10 minutes late.  So, I sat and waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Finally, I was given the cue to walk onstage.  I looked at the crowd of 1,500 people, bowed and sat at the piano.  It always amazes me how at ease I feel in front of a crowd.  As a recovering perfectionist, I always want to perform with perfect accuracy, technical brilliance and flawless memory.  But, I also want to create an intimate connection with the listener.  In order to do that, I find that I must release any attachment to being perfect.  If I play a wrong note, if my voice cracks, so be it, but make sure that I feel every note and mean every word; have eye contact whenever possible; convey the spirit in which I composed the work.  Somehow, these intentions obviate any fear or doubt.  I felt that my performance was good – not perfect, but good.  So be it.  I’ll only get better…  I’ll provide a link once I have one.

After the talks, I went to the reception, spoke to dozens of people, including the fellow speakers, met some really interesting people and experienced the kind of euphoria that comes when interacting with exceptionally intelligent, thoughtful people.  Definitely my kind of party!  The feeling continued at dinner after the reception.  The speakers and team all gathered for dinner at the Bancroft Hotel.  I sat at a table with several of the TEDxBerkeley organizers, Dan Millman and our personal guests.  I left that evening feeling inspired, not only by my fellow speakers, but also by the brilliant young students who curated, organized and successfully pulled off this year’s event.  The students are all brilliant, thoughtful, aware, kind, etc.  I can’t praise them all highly enough.  I understand why the adult co-curators repeatedly donate their time and energy to work with young adults like these.

Thank you again, to everyone involved with TEDxBerkeley, for an AWESOME day!

@kmgong,@rjenbarr,@magicsaucemedia, @weblogtheworld, @eringroberts33, @GoldenOvertones, @edenfull, @letsgetrealshow, @RobertNeuwirth, @yaelisa1111, @drlouann, @mallikachopra, @pwdan, @AnanyaRoy_Cal, @Alex_Filippenko, @cecilysommer, @chr1sa

This entry was posted on Sunday, April 21st, 2013 at 8:03 pm and is filed under TEDxBerkeley. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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