My first TED

I’m not big on motivational speeches. Mostly because I lose concentration after a few minutes – I have the attention span of a … oooh butterfly!

So I have never bothered with TED even though everyone I know is so wowed by them. I imagine I’d gain more from reading a speech than sitting through one.

But today I bumped into one here and I have to say … cool !

I don’t agree with everything the lady says, but she’s certainly captivating – I stayed awake through every word.

Ms Gilbert feels that talent/muse/daemon is something that comes from outside ourselves, so we can’t get too cocky, depressed or modest about our work. After all, it isn’t our work.

I have felt that way about some things I’ve written. Most things actually. I don’t always feel like it comes from me – at least not actively. I often feel the words come from somewhere else and that I simply take dictation.

But I don’t think this makes the work any less mine.

A great footballer may not know what makes him great. He may wonder why he [of all the kids who played with a paper-and-plastic-street-ball] ended up in the Man U shirt. But he won’t refuse the paycheque.

I think fate, destiny, luck, genes, whatever, decide what talents you are born with, or what skills you develop. And once these talents choose you, then they are yours, and so you should glory in them. Once the poem decides to be spoken through you, you are allowed to own it. After all, it’s got your name on it.

Like it says in some quirky rock song, a girl may be dissed for her implants, but she should smile and say ‘I bought them, they’re mine now, so there.’ Perhaps not the most ethical of examples, but you see my point.

Ms Gilbert feels this is a huge responsibility to place on one tiny head. She feels it’s why many great artists commit suicide – and maybe it is. Me, I think it’s fun to stand on the podium and wear the medal, even if it’s only once. And when you can’t make the gold anymore, you find something else that you’re good at. You can always find it if you keep looking.

A question that came to me as I listened was this … are all creatives mad, or are all mad people creative? Is there something about artists that makes us mentally unstable, or are looney bins intrinsically full of geniuses? Interesting thought that.

I accept – as Ms Gilbert says – that pressure to perform can make many gifted people desperate enough to seek muse in booze. But I think what really makes artists off themselves is that we feel. The reason we can touch people and express emotions so keenly is that we experience them more. And such excruciating levels of intensity are enough to make anyone mad.

In less intense matters, I wonder if I’ll ever give a TED talk. It looks like fun.