Full text of wellness advocate Joe Danis’ talk: ‘Why slowing down and stopping is the way forward’ at TEDxPaderbornUniversity conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Joe Danis – Wellness advocate
Thank you so much Jan. Before I begin, I want to take a moment to say thank you to the team here to Jan, Russia, to Jessica for having the passion, the courage and the energy to create this event during such an uncertain and challenging and strange time that we are living in. So I want to say thank you to each of you for the opportunity.
I also want to say congratulations to all of the speakers for coming here today and sharing their stories, sharing their wisdom with each of us. I think meaningful conversations are so important; they’ve never been more important than they are today. And so I want to applaud and thank each of you for sharing your energy with everyone here.
So my talk today is: Why Slowing Down And Stopping Is The Way Forward. And I want to share with you a story from an experience I had in El Salvador; it’s a country that I’ve traveled to many times through the years. And I have a great intersection of people, experiences, and opportunities there. Whenever I visit, I spend time with amazing people that are incredibly warm, incredibly hospitable, incredibly intelligent and have a great inner strength about them. And I learned so much from the people there.
I also have life-changing experiences when I’m there, and I’m going to share one of those with you today, and also opportunities for growth. And wherever I go, whenever I travel, the intersection between people, experiences, and opportunities is something I seek out actively.
So El Salvador is a small central American country; again I’ve traveled there many times through the years where I’ve engaged in several projects with a very small rural community about two hours outside of the capital of San Salvador.
And as is the case when I go there, I’ve made many relationships with some incredible people that I spent a great deal of time with, and I have so much respect for them. And we engage in these projects that the community identifies, and we simply try and provide a little bit of support to increase their capacity.
On this particular occasion, I was there with my wife and a couple of friends from Canada, and we were there to help people in this small mountainside community build stoves in their homes, something that’s very very important there.
And on this particular occasion as we wrap up each visit there, we spend a lot of time at the school. And the school in these small El Salvadorian communities as is the case in much of the world really becomes the center, the focal point for a community. So we use the school as a place to meet with community leaders, with the teachers and others to coordinate our projects. And typically we wrap up these projects with some time at the school to play with the school children and hang out with them, and just experience what pure joy really looks like and feels like, and it’s always the best way to wrap up our trip.
And I remember as we were getting ready to close our time at the school, a dear friend of mine Don Freddie who was driving us that day motioned to the skies — and we were there during the rainy season — and he said to us, ‘You know we don’t get going, soon the skies are going to open up, and we’re going to experience some pretty heavy rainfall. And if you don’t want to sleep at the school tonight, we better get going.’
And everybody thought that was quite humorous, and that seeing the gringo sleeping at the school be kind of funny. Not so funny for me, so I thought we better get going.
So no sooner do we pile into the truck that the raindrops start to fall. And as is the case the children kind of chase along our vehicle as we take these curves up this very steep mountain road, and as they disappear into the distance behind one of the corners, the rain really starts to intensify.
And again if you’ve ever experienced what it looks like, this is after a rainfall in El Salvador, and these large crevices get dug into the road very very quickly.
And I remember as we were driving up the mountain that day, I was thinking the last stretch of road which is a very very steep stretch of gravel dirt road, I thought would be somewhat difficult to get up.
And I remember as we were turning that last corner to the apex of this hill to the flatness of the peak of this hill, thinking I took a peek and saw these large crevices were quite deep into the earth at this time.
And no sooner do we make this turn that we get stuck, and there we are… we’re stuck in our truck on the side of a mountain in the middle of a downpour. We’re already soaked to the bone and the experience comes to a halt.
And so what do we do? Naturally we get out of the truck, we start to figure out a way how we’re going to push or pull or whatever we’re going to do to get this truck up the mountain, because no one wants to see the gringo sleep at the school that night.
And so as we’re getting behind the truck and we’re trying to push our way, we’re sliding back and forth but we’re not making much progress at all. And in fact, we’re not really going anywhere at this point.
And due to the time of the day it was getting late into the afternoon, people were coming home from work on the coffee plantations, in the local town, primarily young men coming back from their days of work. And they got behind the truck with us, and our numbers started to increase, and so we had more people power.
And as we’re pushing, we’re pushing harder, we’re still not making any progress; we’re not going anywhere. And I could sense a sense of frustration in the young man who was standing beside me. And at one point in time he starts banging on the quarter panel of the truck on the rear of the truck, and he says to Don Freddie, “Amigo necesitas ir más rápido.’ Hey buddy, you got to go faster.
And it was at that moment that I could see into the cab of the truck, Don Freddie put the vehicle in park, he very slowly methodically got out of the vehicle, and he walked back to where this young man was standing, and he put his arm around him, and he said to him, “Going faster doesn’t always get you further ahead. You just end up spinning your wheels. Sometimes you need to slow down and stop before you can move forward.”
And for me that was a moment that is absolutely frozen in time; here we are stuck on the side of a mountain, stuck in life, and what an incredible metaphor at that moment that I heard, those sage words of advice that sometimes you need to slow down before you can move forward, before you can climb that mountain that’s in front of you.
And I thought for a moment, you know as we’re standing there in the pouring rain, and we hear these incredible words that are spoken to us, and we take this moment to pause and reflect.
And some really interesting things happen there, and when I look at that moment, when I go back in time in the weeks and months after, I thought this wasn’t a spontaneous act; this was an act of great intention. I like to call this a pause with a purpose. This was a time out with intention that we were given at this moment.
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