I was sitting in my car the other day waiting for a child’s sports practice to end, casually checking my notifications on a Facebook feed (where part my life has ended up, daft as it all is out there) when I noticed that someone had tagged me regarding a TedxCape Town pitch. I’d heard about it but wasn’t sure it was my thing, much as I am hopelessly inspired by TedTalks.
I morphed into schizophrenia briefly, believing in one moment that
HERE WAS MY CHANCE TO CHANGE THE WORLD,
I HAVE AN IDEA WORTH SPREADING
and in the next, NO, it’s MADNESS,because, in a nutshell, the world is moving too fast, there seems to be no more time for nurturing.
I read, re-read and re-read, the cornerstones of TedxCapeTown: to articulate authentically WHY the idea is important is to me um, because we – humanity- are losing our way in so many ways, because issues of GENDER inequality remain and CHILDREN are more anxious and take their own lives, because WOMEN need to WORK and MOTHER and WHO is looking after the children? Are our children, our futures, going to be OKAY?
(I don’t want to talk about Covid -19, remember!)
It stays there, my pitch, my idea. It calls to me at night and in the glaring daylight. I mull it over and over until I feel like I want to burst sometimes.
And so there it was, MY IDEA, spilling out and hovering about my phone as I sat there that evening, leaning back in my seat, my knees balancing on my worn steering wheel. And so when I opened the ‘please submit your pitch idea here’ on the Tedx page I was on autopilot and in two minutes, the few obligatory details like name, address, email were done and without thinking too hard about what I really wanted to say, I’d pressed send and off it went! Into the ether!
I forgot about it entirely.
A few days later, I get an email to say,
Thank you for your interest in attending our first-ever Open Mic Night taking place this Thursday, 5 March! We are very excited to host you at the American Corner – located in the Cape Town Central Library’.
I reply by email and say, ‘Heavens this is exciting email, TEDxCapeTown! I didn’t think I would be included somehow and I’m suddenly a little nervous!
I cheekily ask for the email I sent to clarify my pitch because I cannot even remember the ANGLE I used and there is SO much to say. There’s always another perspective to add, to think about, to consider. We have two minutes to convince them! Sadly, that’s not possible, they reply immediately. Obviously!
At home, I start looking at TED Talks that have inspired me. There are hundreds. I watch some great ones, and ones that aren’t so great. I watch my favourite by Brene Brown (on the courage of vulnerability and I come across another I love by David Brooks (on living a life for your CV or your eulogy. I notice that he stands there reading his notes too.
It can’t be that difficult- I love public speaking!
The next day I spend a few hours typing out what I want to say. I write and delete. I rewrite and delete and when I have enough words for a two- minute talk, I time myself, asking the voice on my laptop to read it because I didn’t feel like my own voice. Later, I look at myself in the mirror. I am not pleased. The lines have doubled, and I feel a little…well, older. It’s hard putting yourself out there.
But in the background, my old king, my beautiful boxer has been having trouble with his paw. It’s been a few weeks now and the pad on his paw is simply not healing. I’d taken him to the vet on Monday and they’d told me to bring him back on Wednesday, but his bandage looked okay still. And I was busy.
Early on Thursday morning, when the kids are off to school, I see that his bandage has come off again. He’s leaving bloodied paw prints everywhere and it’s not looking good.
My heart started to ache around then.
I arrived at the vet a little after 11a.m. and the first thing they say is “it has to go this digit, this toe. This is a proper growth. Probably cancerous.
‘It will have to be amputated.’
Okay, let’s just do it now then, get it over with, I say. But the empathetic vet looks at me and explains a little more: that he probably won’t make it through the anaesthetic or if he does, it’s a matter of weeks that he’ll have to live. He is clearly in pain; he’s already got kidney issues- he drinks water all day I tell them – and his back legs are riddled with arthritis. He’s a good age for a boxer she tells me.
In a few short seconds, I’m suddenly registering that my dog is going to die. Today. My beautiful, brave, loyal old guy who has been the king of our household and my youngest’s first playmate (she never went to playschool for the first year like all her siblings had done – she was happier to staying home with Frankie, so attached she was to him) is going to leave us today.
I call my husband so that he can come and hear it first-hand and we say OK. It’s time. I’m crying a lot by now, but think we owe it to the children to let them say their goodbyes, traumatic as it will be.
But perhaps I wasn’t quite ready, yet either.
ARE WE EVER READY, FOR ANYTHING?
(I’m not talking about COVID- 19, remember! This is about TEDxCapeTown)
So, I take him home and get on with my day.
I shower and change and pick up my notes for the TEDxCapeTown pitch, scratched out and red-penned by now, and sit with him and stroke him, taking in his smell. I’ll tell the kids later when we’re all home.
I fetch one daughter and drop her off at my husband’s office- she has a late sports practice and he will have to take her. While I’m there I get a phone call from school.
‘Your (other) daughter has been injured by a hockey stick but she’s fine. There was a lot of blood but it’s ok now though she may need a stitch or two.’
This is usually my job, children and plasters and stitches and stuff. My husband is in the boardroom with six other people.
‘I’m pitching for a TEDx pitch in an hour I tell him when he comes out briefly to see what’s going on.’
‘Is it important, he asks?’
WELL YES, I WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD, I say
But I’m not feeling like it at all. My eyes are red, scratchy and half -closed. I’m feeling particularly vulnerable. Unprepared in so many ways.
I don’t even take my take my hair out its messy bun or apply some lipstick or put on my high heels I’ve left on the backseat.
And in fact, I’m half relieved that they don’t pull my name out the hat on the first round.
But on the second round they do.
And I start to talk about my idea, but within seconds – though I feel like I’ve only just started- it’s time to end, I’ve exceeded my time and I trail off, rather ineffectually. I know that.
Oh well, I say to myself, is that there’ll be more opportunities to help fix the world.
And then I came across this quote I included here and I was sent some photo’s taken at TedxCape Town.
So, I was there. Ready or not.
Are we ever ready?
‘Til next time,
In the meantime, please take care!