I was one of 300 TEDxWilmington fans who had come to see more than two dozen experts, scientists, adventurers, visionaries and survivors share their “ideas worth spreading” with a crowd of enthusiastic, open minded individuals.
It was an inspiring lineup: a horse whisperer, a retired circus aerialist dangling upside down from the ceiling on a strand of white silk, a scientist with a new hope for humanity, a South African woman committed to saving the critically endangered white lions, and a Swedish female entrepreneur who had weathered life’s storms to launch a successful tech company.
I’m sure what the speakers saw as they gazed into the dimly lit, cavernous space before them was a mob of blurred faces, the open space punctuated by the sound of the occasional muffled cough. It was quite a different experience from weeks of rehearsals in a brightly lit dining room when no one but the dog was watching.
Waiting backstage to go on, several speakers were nearly paralyzed by fear and self doubt. The clipping on of their microphone by a stagehand was tantamount to being wired up for execution.
What they didn’t realize was that the only person out there was me. Actually, 300 people who called themselves “me.”
Each storyteller spoke directly to me and me only, occasionally catching my eye and then moving their
gaze and body in a different direction, to speak directly to another me, sitting rows away across the chasm.
A young man from the British Virgin Islands told me in vivid detail what it was like to clutch his young child to his chest, quite willing to die to protect her, as a raging hurricane blew his house into vicious, flying bits. Another man described for me what it was like to row across the Atlantic Ocean and endure near starvation, near collisions with giant ships and 20-foot waves.
When the scientist left the stage to go and mingle, she was surrounded first by one me, and then another, each expressing their love and admiration for her idea worth spreading — that there was a medical breakthroughs that will change the face of medicine forever.
So, a message to those of you who have an idea worth spreading but who have fear about standing on the worldwide stage, try and remember: It’s just me and you out there. And I’m all yours.