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The Search for Answers

Side note: Still  working through some technical issues. Please forgive this second posting!

One of my favorite websites is a place where you can find inspiration, laughter, ideas and technology you’ve not even dreamed of, the latest breakthroughs in science, great speakers, the worlds greatest thinkers and it’s all for free. If you’ve not perused TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, you have to give it a shot. Curious why everyone raves about Steve Jobs as a speaker? Click here to see the comencement speech he gave at Standford. Judge for yourself – I think it’s pretty inspiring. Curious about quantum physics, or ending world hunger, or baking? No worries – they’re all covered. TED collects speeches from the world’s greatest venues and posts them in a YouTube type format.

Here are a few additional links to get you started:

1. Remember Bobby McFerrin – the “Don’t Worry be Happy,” song? Try this 3 minute video on the universality of music. Very cool.

2. Sticking with the same theme – here’s a speech that broaches the subject: Why are we Happy? Here’s a big teaser – research shows that a person who wins the lottery, and a person who becomes a paraplegic, return to equal levels of happiness after a period of one year.

3. And, because I love mysteries, here’s a good one from J.J. Abrams, creator of the TV series Lost and Alien. I’m actually not a fan of either series, but the speech is great. He talks about the origins of his fascination with mystery.

Many of the speeches featured in TED aren’t just inspirational, they also focus on the idea of  inspiration. It set me wondering about my own . The short term inspirations are easy to name: certain songs, reading certain authors or passages from certain books, hiking, driving down certain roads with the windows down. The small inspirations clear my head or provide a particular mood. They help get me in the right place to write. But what about the inspiration that has kept me coming back to this hobby for the past twenty-five years? That’s a long time to stick with something that, for the most part, has produced no visible worth to anyone but me.

The obsessive part of my writing I’ll attribute to a family gene.  My obsessive gene only exerts itself occasionally, typically when I’ve discovered something new, or taken on a short term project that I’m enjoying. When it’s time to buy a car I can’t wander the carlots until I find something I like. Weeks of research and debate with my husband take place, until my husband reaches his breaking point and I know a decision has to be made. A new piece of technology can’t be enjoyed fully until it is understood fully. Same with a new author, or cooking style. I blame my mother. When I was a kid, mom was always on a ‘kick.’ Your mother is on a knitting kick. And, we’d all get sweaters and mittens for Christmas. There were macrame kicks, organic gardening kicks, sewing, crocheting, weird vegetable kicks, tromploei painting, beer making, embroidery, martiniis (although I think that was my dad’s kick), bread making. And, with each obsession came the exciting aquisition of all the things needed to be good at the obsession. One of her longer running kicks is wine making which has turned into a wine making room in their basement with bubbling carboys filled with fermenting grape juice and tiny glasses used to ‘taste’ the product as it ages.

My mother has an innate curiosity about everything. Her  desire to know things has lead to her longest running obsessions with books and computers. Back in the mid eighties we were one of the first families to get a home computer. Dad was a school principal and mom was an x-ray tech. Money was spent conservatively, except on technology. We had the latest greatest computers, from Macs to PCs. And, there were the books, and eventually the internet research, to accompany them. I learned from my mother early in life that every question has an answer. You just have to dig. And, in the end, that’s what I love about writing. I have big-life questions that I want answered, and writing helps me answer them.

So here’s to an endless supply of questions and a lifelong search for answers. God bless Google.