Reset with Rediscovery

March 7th, 2011 by Justin Kemerling
[caption id="attachment_4361" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Talk to me about (Graphic) Design, Collaboration, Activism + Projects"][/caption] I'm just going to say it. This whole Work/Life balance thing, well I am struggling with it, straight up. I've focused a good bit of 2011 thus far thinking about the idea of Work. My work, the type of projects I do and how I want them to fit in to a larger community. And really take the time to consider what the answer to this question is: "and what do you do?" Well, how about: I frantically run around in circles for 16-18 hours a day until I get really dizzy and then fall into a deep trance-like state for 6-8 hours until I suddenly am jolted back into attention and then do the circle thing all over again. Or maybe just this for my title and tagline: Constant Worker Man, Doing or Thinking about Work, 24/7. That may sound somewhat interesting, but it can be really exhausting. Needless to say when I left my home office in Omaha to go on a weeklong travel excursion to California, I wasn't necessarily excited to be getting away, just more tired with the thought of traveling and working from the road. But, despite having so much mindblowing information smashed into my brain, I come back to the Work/Life challenges of a graphic designer with a very satisfying feeling of having been thoroughly reset. Thank you, TED. I was invited to TEDActive 2011 in the middle of last year and it's been this strange thing just hanging out in my mindspace since. Now that it's finally happened, there are two things I know for certain: 1) there is no conference like it 2) if everybody was able to go at some point in their lives, let's just say things would be different. The theme this year for TED was the Rediscovery of Wonder. From art to science to politics to culture to invention to leadership and on and on, that's exactly what it was. From the food truck party to the pool side party to the desert adventure, it was good times had by all, with conversation, discussion and some serious pondering. And I feel very lucky to have been in the company of wonderfully friendly and interesting people. The conference website has all the highlights from each day from all 12 sessions. I've already posted some of the very best, including JR's TED Wish for everyone in communities all across the world to participate in a global art project. And the extremely timely and very powerful talks on the democracy movements in the Middle East by Wadah Khanfar, the head of Al Jazeera, and Google executive Wael Ghonim. Yes, I enjoyed the talk by David Brooks, even though I think he's wrong a lot. Stanley McChrystal was insightful even though I think he has some serious questions to answer for about our conduct in the "War on Terror." And Indra Nooyi's talk about the Pepsi Refresh Project was inspiring to see such a corporate force doing so much good in the world, despite the fact Pepsi is in the business of unhealthy sugar water, which is questionable at best. But the point is to listen. And to think and readjust, as well as to rediscover. The architecture of Heatherwick Studio. The virtual choir of Eric Whitacre. The spoken word poetry of Sarah Kay. The curatorial shenanigans of Shea Hembrey. The pounding drums of the LA Samba School. The photography of Paul Nicklen. The film vision of Morgan Spurlock. The amazing education available from the Khan Academy. The way Anthony Atala gets a printer to create a kidney. And how Harvey Fineberg thinks we might choose how we evolve. The utter importance of being wrong with Kathryn Schulz. The World Peace Game with John Hunter. Visually amazing data visualizations from Deb Roy. Beautiful human music from Bobby McFerrin. Magic berry pills with Homaro Cantu. Jack Horner and the Jurassic qualities of chickens. And a life-size puppet horse (with human rider) from Handspring. It was so inspiring to get the progress on Jamie Oliver's 2010 TED Wish. (Yes, TED is not all talk. TED gets shit done, no doubt about it.) And having worked with Eli Pariser on the slides he used in his talk about information filtering on the web, I can definitely say the build-up, and the nerves, and the pressure leading up to a talk is quite monumental, and it wasn't even my talk and I wasn't even in Long Beach. The TEDYou feature of the TEDActive event, where attendees get to pitch their own mini-TED Talks, had some very good presentations. One by Sebastian Wernicke captured the entire idea of TED quite well, in six words; "What me worry, I'd rather wonder." When it's all said and done, TED is not only about wondering, it's about listening. It's about a worldview that is hopeful. Every single session is such a powerful force. An hour and 45 minutes of immense intensity, ups and downs, compelling information and astounding creativity, it's an emotional roller coaster that can leave your brain just a bit mushy. Laugh, cry, dream and have an optimistic view of the future, even if there's areas where it's a little cloudy. Coming back to the Work/Life challenge now, I feel much better equipped. Refreshed and hopeful. It's safe to say I feel I've rediscovered the wonder and am reset, ready to go. And what better way to close a conference about our hopeful future on this planet we call Earth, than with a little Tom Morello. With a fiery rendition of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," live in the desert, we all sang along, loudly: This land was made for you me. [caption id="attachment_4365" align="alignnone" width="540" caption=""This land is your land, this land is my land...""][/caption] Now it's day one back at Work. It's only a little brisk out. I think I'll take a walk. And I'm going to go slow. -- Justin Kemerling, Designer.

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