(I wrote this in August 2013 and kept it as an unpublished draft, feeling too shy to be “seen”. Here goes, with tiny edits!)
I like to think of some experiences as life-changing. They all are, in fact. Some of them stand out, and you know that they had a specific large impact on your life, because you were there, you felt the change, perhaps a seed of change, and they align you with your old and new dreams.
I know, for instance, that I wouldn’t be writing this if I hadn’t met Sara at OHM2013. Sara does spoken word poetry (and teaching, and more). Imagine a camp-like tent village full of hackers, scientists, engineers, whistleblowers, policy makers, artists, agents, geeks and nerds, parents and kids. Imagine that place hosting a conference with talks and workshops, DIY tents, retro zones, and imagine that somewhere in between a young woman with sparkling eyes passes the flame of inspiration on and on among these human beings, with poetry and passion.
I went through many highs and lows during these four days. I asked a question to Julian Assange about the stories and myths we are telling ourselves and each other – I thought it important and I wanted to know, even though the internet will remember that Q&A session for as long as YouTube exists. I spoke with visionaries about a “gift based economy”, joined discussions on drug policy and research, chatted with one of the EFF founders, shared my views on the importance of epiphanies with one of the senior whistleblowers. I gave a talk about CERN research without rehearsing once, and I know it was far from perfect, but I felt more comfortable on that huge stage than ever before, and I wore my Amanda Palmer T-shirt with pride. I lost my thoughts and forgot my question during the Q&A of Amanda Feilding‘s talk, and the internet will remember that too. Did I make a fool of myself?
But I was curious. And soon enough, after the closing ceremony, Sara gave me just one hug that made it all worthwhile. And a week ago I watched one of my dearest friends raise his sons to become curious explorers of this world, and I played with them and learned from them to do backflips and somersaults into the lake. And I saw my cousin’s half-year old son too, and I felt his tiny fingers wrapped around mine while his giggling eyes opened the door to another world before me. And I still cry to Amanda Palmer’s “Trout Heart Replica”, though not as much as I did three weeks ago. And whenever I raise my gaze at night to watch the stars, I realise the insignificance of my daily worries, which never fail to become again as important to me as anything could ever be. For deep within me live a warrior and a worrier, my yin and yang, wild rebel and peaceful sage, as fiercely dancing and as calmly resting as we choose to allow them.
But … I don’t know that yet.
And because I don’t know it, I want to learn all about it. And because I believe in cooperation, I want to share it. I did not plan to write all this, but I knew I needed to start writing. If you find yourself sharing this moment with me right now, I hope we can both appreciate it. May it be well shared.
I suck at endings. Let’s continue this. I don’t know how, but I wish to keep it going.
Random strangers, as we strangely call them, helped me carry bags and boxes today. Another offered me a slice of pizza. Someone else gave me a heartfelt smile. Yesterday night some people were giving away their food and booze for free.
We can do so much together if we cultivate a mindset of sharing. Grabbing less, sharing more. Random acts of kindness. Helping each other out.
We live on a planet that’s just fucking incomprehensible in all its shining glory. It wasn’t made for us – if anything, we were made for it. Let’s not suck at this.
But we need to start small.
I actually have no clue what we need to do, and no authority to propose “the way”, but I believe that paying it forward ain’t too bad for a baby step.
Not bad at all.