*Blog title taken from a favourite Great Big Sea album.
Most of you know by now that February 2, 2013 was the day I gave my TEDx talk. It was the day I dared to teach, standing on a stage sharing more of myself in 18 minutes or less than perhaps I’ve done over the past twelve months.
What you may not know is that February 2, 2013 is also the day where everything changed.
The morning of my talk, I was all the colours of the emotional rainbow. Scared (okay, terrified), excited (alright, hyperactive), and nervous as heck (yes, nervous.as.all.get.out).
The memory of the talk itself is somewhat of a blur (I’ll try to make some sense of that experience in a future post). I had turned off my phone right before, doing my best to stay focused on centring myself and preparing to speak.
Once I turned on my phone after the talk, my own tiny version of hell broke loose.
I had known for the past couple of days that my Avo, my grandmother on my Mom’s side, had been sick and was in hospital under observation. What I didn’t know was that at almost exactly the same moment as I was delivering what I consider to be one of the best talks I’ve done to date, my mother was learning that my grandmother, her mother, had taken a turn for the worst … and she needed to get on a plane. To the Azores. That night.
Frantically, I started making calls, making arrangements and asking every event organizer I could find how early they thought the conference might finish. I was able to enjoy the rest of the talks from the day, some in the green room and some from the audience, with my ears tuned to some incredible new insights and ideas, and my head a million miles away – or at least 2664 miles away to where my Avo was, seemingly fighting for her life.
So, after perhaps one of the best days of my life, I spent much of my evening in the airport, helping my mom sort out her revised travel itinerary (she was originally planning on heading back home in late March) and doing my best to reassure her that everything would be okay, even though I couldn’t and wouldn’t let myself believe that to be true.
I’m still getting daily updates from my mother, and the situation back home is touch and go. I don’t know day to day when I’ll get the call that I always knew I’d get but still never want to hear. I have only now begun to disentangle the evening of February 2 from what I got to do that morning. In all the highs and lows, in the hard and the easy, what have I learned?
Life goes on. (Borrowing heavily from Robert Frost).
Life doesn’t just go on. It marches on. It sprints, spins and spirals at its own speed no matter how much we try to slow it down (or speed it up in some cases). As the world keeps turning and we keep racing between moments, life has a way of reminding you that time is precious and finite. Sometimes, life reminds you with a fleeting whisper that you can miss if you’re not paying attention. Other times, it whacks you upside the head with a single text message.
Looking back, I know that I gave that talk not just for myself, but for my Avo, for my Nanny, for my brother and for everyone and anyone in my life who has dared in their own way to teach me what it truly means to live. There is a somewhat cruel irony in giving a talk that advocates for the celebration of doing, process, and continuing while at the same time being confronted with the near end of a life. While I still argue that we overvalue the product at almost the exclusion of the wonders of process, I was presented with an opportunity, under unfortunate circumstances, to reflect on the summation of a life that has taught me more than I can currently and clearly articulate.
Saturday February 2, 2013 reminded me, yet again, that the only constant is change. More importantly, it taught me to not only embrace the change, but to use it, to be fuelled by it, to enjoy the ride but to also grab the steering wheel and pull off to the side of the road to pause and take it all in. I can’t go back to what I used to be or how things were. One major constant in my life is slipping away just as a new, post TEDx chapter, is just beginning.
On February 2,2013 everything changed.