Friday, January 08, 2010

For TED?

Was talking to Tom last night at the bar of Lantern, hearing his war stories from the TED conference, thinking how cool it would be to go. So he tells me you have to write a short essay to get in and I think: what would I write?

The best I could do, really, would be to pull excerpts from this blog, anecdotes about people I've met or observed here or there, the woman on the train instructing her 14-year old daughter about cash management and the importance of customers, Oleg's grandfather Senya telling us how cold it was on Red Square on Great October day, 1941, as the troops headed out to face the Nazis. Because in the end people are really the most interesting thing, the fabric of existence. And yes, the trends and themes that hold them together, the commonalities and identifications are what make it possible to cohere, but it's the delicate interplay of the particular and the general that form the warp and woof.

Pseudo-Zen / Taoist afficionados often wax lyrical about "being in the moment," appreciating where you are, air you're breathing, landscapes, whatnot. I would refine that to "being in the social moment." Appreciating who you're talking to and the way in which they present otherness to you, the simultaneous variety and continuity of human experience. That's where it's at.

So, for instance, last night before heading up town to see Reardon I was lying in the upper bunk (with her in the lower one, of course, as she's long past snuggling) of Natalie's bunk bed, in the same room that used to be Leslie's, half-reading her Wizardology book, leaning against her big stuffed tiger, looking up at crap she and her friends have been smudging on the ceiling, really quite at ease. And then I go and hear Tom's stories of sparring with Roubini and Taleb, Gates and Brin at TED and I'm sucked into the glamor of it all for a moment, but then recall the warmth of the upper bunk.

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