John has been doing our family tree. It’s not much of a tree, truthfully, it’s like a small shrub, isn’t it? All fungus infection at the roots from what we can make up. But he discovered that seven of our eight great-grandparents, were all born in Liverpool in the 19th century within two miles of each other. That’s how they met. They ran into each other. That’s how people used to meet. You know, life was very local. People didn’t travel great distances like you all do. People just went to work and came home, it was as far as they could walk and then they would come back again. So, that’s how they met.
Now you might say: No, that’s not the case, you are missing the point, there is a cosmic theme here that you misunderstand. The cosmos arranged things so these eight soul mates converge at the same point of the space-time continuum, they should meet and procreate and continue the process that has led to the miracle that it is me. It’s a way of thinking about that, I don’t think so. I just think they had lower standards then, frankly, I think — I think people ran into each other in the street and thought, “You’ll do.”
“I can spend my life with you. I’ll be constantly embarrassed, but it will be fine.” Because they didn’t know Angelina Jolie was in prospect, or Brad Pitt, they didn’t have TMZ or People Magazine, it was just the people around. But here’s the point, you see. They went on and had kids, and eventually our grandparents were born, and then our parents were born, and 50 years later, and there was that night in the pub, and here we are, and it’s a miracle that followed.
But, the thing is, I tell you about that because if you think of the chances of you being born at all, that’s pretty remote, statistically. All the people and the circumstances involved — think how you met your partner, if you have one — those circumstances are remote. Think about what you do and how it came about, your whole life is composed by choices you make, the turnings you move towards, the ones you turn away from, the chances you all are prepared to risk, the way you deal with fear or you don’t, and in the process you create a life of some sort. And it’s a miracle and it’s amazed me how little people settle for very often. They go through their lives in a state of anxiety, thinking: “If I try it, it won’t work.”
And anyone who ever achieved anything in their life was prepared to be wrong and make a mistake and try it, and that’s how culture progresses, how our lives progress, how you build a legacy and have a life in the process. Everyone makes their own choice about that sort of thing. And I just feel that’s been one of the great features of the afternoon and this morning, I’m sure. I wasn’t able to be here, but we’ve had lots of examples of people who’ve created very different lives and they’re affecting people very differently. It’s in the way we do that, that we create a culture and if we got the culture right, we create a life we can live communally.
My final thought in all of this is that’s the difference between human beings and the rest of life on Earth. We are jeopardizing the rest of life on Earth the way we’re behaving, but the interesting thing is that human culture is always progressing through power of imagination, creativity. There’s a big difference between us and the rest of life on Earth, although we’re intimately connected, and we keep forgetting it. If you’ve got a dog, your dog probably has all kinds of feelings, and may have some kind of imagination. But it doesn’t manifest it in quite the same way. You don’t see your dog, starring out the window, depressed, reading Camus. You’d say, “Do you come for a walk?” and he’d say, “No.” “No, you go out, I’m not in the mood, you go…”
Because we live in a virtual world, we live in a world of ideas, we live in a world of thoughts, and feelings, and theories and possibilities. It’s the old maxim: Nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time has come. Nothing is so influential as a life well lived. And that’s really, I think, what today has been about and, I want in your behalf, to thank all the speakers this afternoon, Mike for a wonderful round-off and especially Herb, for bringing us all together, so please welcome Herb Kim back to stage.
Herb Kim: Thank you. Let’s give a round of applause for ‘the’ Sir Ken Robinson, for guest housing this final session. And of course, I have to repeat my thanks to all the speakers all day, which have been amazing. I should also add of course, our own staff, Rob and his crew up there have been busy making sure all the stuff behind us was working well, things like microphones and the such like. Is Marie around? Marie Burns, who’s the producer of this year TEDx.
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