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Thanks for coming, everyone.
I didn't have any religious schooling as a kid, my family did not go to church,
so I'm always surprised to say,
that my first revelation happened in a church.
I was six or seven years old, first or second grade,
and I had spent the night at a friend's house, on a Saturday night.
And in the morning, I went with her family to church.
The parents went off to the service,
and I went off with my friend to the little Sunday school.
And at this Sunday school, we were given these booklets,
and what the booklets were were these reproductions of watercolors,
that were pictures of wildflowers, and butterflies, and clouds.
All the natural wonders.
And on the opposite page to these pictures were little poems,
and lyric descriptions of the images.
I knew I loved books by then; I'd been a reader,
my mother had always read to me,
and I had already fostered a real love of books.
But I never had encountered the feeling that I had when I read those descriptions.
I felt, for the first time, I saw the power of words.
I saw that they could harness a beauty that absolutely pierced me.
I remember it as a moment of real change in my life.
It was at that moment that I knew,
I didn't know what it was to be a writer;
I didn't have any idea someone like me could be one.
But I knew that I was going to spend my life trying to harness that.
I was going to try to, with words, capture that kind of beauty.
So yesterday, when I realized I was going to tell you about that first revelation,
I thought, since I don't have any fancy slides or videos like others have,
I just have me, I thought I would bring that book,
because I ended up saving it all these years,
sort of by accident.
It was in my basement, somewhere, I knew that.
I went downstairs to my basement.
I should tell you that my basement,
if the organizers of this thing were in my basement,
they would have rescinded the invitation.
Because it really clearly identifies me
as not an extraordinary human being at all,
in fact, a rather shameful one.
Maybe some of you relate; I'm hoping some of you relate.
I have an excuse as to why my basement is so hideous.
About a year and a half ago, my husband and I, and our kids, moved.
The last couple of years have been the busiest of our lives.
We got ourselves in this situation where suddenly, it was like in three days,
we had to be out of our house, and in this other house.
Our kids are six and seven, so they have all this junk that kids accumulate,
and all these years, we'd just been throwing it in the basement.
What happened is that I had to, in three days, box everything up,
and just move it to the new house.
I didn't get to go through things like a good citizen does,
and bring things to Goodwill and the dump.
I keep saying, "We moved", but actually, my husband who's in the room,
a very, extraordinary man, but useless at packing.
(Laughter)
It was like the cats were more assistance in this move than he was.
I'm by myself, in the middle of the night in the basement, boxing things up.
On top of this, I have a 101 degree fever, because I've suddenly become ill.
I had reached this moment, in the middle of the night,
on one of these nights packing, where instead of being reasonable
and writing things like "kitchen utensils" and "kids toys" on the boxes,
the inner me was really coming out.
So on the boxes I would write, "useless crap you're too pathetic to get rid of".
(Laughter)
Then I'd tape it up.
"Pants you're always going to be too fat to fit into, so let it go".
You know? And taping that up.
So this is what I had to encounter yesterday when I revisit my basement,
because of course, we've not unpacked these boxes.
You know, I never did find that book; I don't have it up here to show you.
But it is in my basement.
What I did, and this happens to me all the time in my life,
as somebody who writes non-fiction,
this is the sort of stuff I'm constantly having in mind,
and that is, "What does this experience mean? What's the greater meaning?"
I thought it was a really wonderful metaphor
for what I want to talk to you about today.
And that is
our deepest treasures are buried in the crappy detritus in our lives.
You know, so much of that "reach for the extraordinary" is bound up
in the self-doubt, the self-loathing, the darkness, the difficulty,
the things that we bury.
I think that everyone who came up here and stood before you today
knows that to be true.
That what we accomplish
is built on what we failed at, what we tried at;
what we hope to do better someday.
That is too, the title of my talk, "Radical Sincerity".
We often use this word "radical", I think, in a way that isn't quite what it means.
We think of "radical", we think of people who are outside, and extreme,
and agitating in some way, or bringing in outside ideas.
But really, the definition of the word "radical" is
of the root, of the origin, the fundamental.
And sincere means "true".
So what I want to talk about today is that I do think,
the journey to extraordinary is through the true root.
Finding, in ourselves, that voice, that we know to be true,
that we recognize as the voice that makes the most sense.
Sometimes it's in the form of a calling.
Like that calling I think I experienced
when I got that little booklet that I can't bring you.
And sometimes, it comes later in life,
when you realize that you're on the wrong path,
or you're married to the wrong person,
or you never thought you wanted to have kids,
and suddenly, you realize that you must.
I think that that is such a powerful,
and fundamental ingredient,
of that reach to extraordinary.
I keep saying, "reach to extraordinary";
I think we're all ordinary in this room, and I think we're all extraordinary too.
The line between those things is very thin.
The only difference between how you get from this side to that side is that reach,
is that identification
of are you following that truth that is at your core?
I followed that, really in my early years.
I was a very ambitious young woman,
who wanted to be a writer, and thought I could be.
Even though all these voices around me said,
"That's not reasonable!", and "Nobody's going to pay you for that!"
I ignored those voices, and I moved forward.
But something happened along the way
to make my journey more difficult.
That is, when I was a senior in college,
I was 22, my mother suddenly got sick, and died.
She was 45.
She died seven weeks to the day after she found out she had cancer.
She was really my only parent.
She was really my tap-root, in a real way.
And when she died, I didn't know how I could live without her.
I had absolutely no idea
how I could thrive in a world without my mother.
So I had to figure that out.
I did all kinds of things.
I first tried to replace my mom; I tried to sustain my family,
and fill that hole that she left.
Then I found out I couldn't do that, that that was impossible.
So then, I decided to self-destruct.
That, in some ways, in retrospect, I can see
that was a way of honoring my mother.
To say, "I cannot bear this world without her, and so I won't."
I actually came to Portland, I was living in Minneapolis.
I got involved with drugs, I was promiscuous,
I did a lot of things that were really harmful to myself,
and also ran at a cross current to that radical sincerity;
that core root within me.
It was because I loved my mother so much.
But what's interesting to me is--
here I was, trying to destroy myself, because I loved my mom so much,
but what saved me is how much she loved me.
Because I couldn't forget that.
I could not forget,
in the midst of my darkest hour, how much my mother loved me.
She used to,
- with my brother, sister, and I, when we were growing up -
she used to play this game that I just did with my own kids this morning.
She would say, "Do I love you this much?"
And we'd say, "No. "Do I love you this much?"
And we'd say, "No." "This much?" "No!"
On, and on, and on.
Until she was reaching as wide as she could reach.
And the answer was always no.
The answer was always that the amount that she loved us was not containable;
it was not within reach.
I'm hoping that all of you in this room have been loved like that.
Because once you are loved that way, I do think it's always with you.
Ultimately, what I realized, in the midst of my most difficult hour,
which was really like a difficult two or three years,
is that that love existed in every cell of me.
And the greatest honor to my mother
would be to live my life as if that were true.
Because that was the truest truth, I decided to do that.
I had to figure out how to do that.
I had to do something incredible or extraordinary,
even though I was not incredible and extraordinary.
I decided to hike a trail that I'd never heard of.
I was living in Minnesota at the time, I was a waitress,
and I was standing in line at an REI store just outside of Minneapolis.
I was buying a shovel,
there had been a blizzard, and I needed to dig my truck out.
I saw this guidebook that was on the shelf as I was waiting to buy my shovel.
I picked it up and it said, "The Pacific Crest Trail, Volume One, California".
I'd never heard of this trail.
I read the back of the book, I thought it was interesting.
For those of you who don't know what it is,
it's a wilderness, a national scenic trail
that goes from the Mexican border to just past the Canadian border,
though California, Oregon, and Washington;
up the crest, of the Pacific crest, the Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Range.
I put it back on the shelf, but I returned soon after and bought that book.
I'd never gone backpacking a night in my life,
but I had grown up in the wilderness of northern Minnesota.
I had known what it was like to be among the silent and the wild things.
It was my home; it was a place that gathered me.
So it was my turn, I guess,
having lost my home,
it was my way of seeking that out, so I could find my footing again.
So I did that.
And I began my hike; it was the summer of 1995, I was 26 years old.
I began my hike in the Mojave Desert.
I didn't know what the hell I was doing.
I put way too much stuff in my backpack.
I thought that's what backpackers did;
you just carried a bunch of shit out there.
(Laughter)
I should say, for months, the organizers of this event
would email me, and call me, and say, "Do you have any questions?"
I said, "No, I don't have any questions."
Yesterday, I had a question.
It was, "Can I say 'shit'?"
(Laughter)
They said, "Yes."
(Laughter)
So that was an approved shit.
(Laughter)
So I'm out there, and I'm carrying all this stuff,
and I literally cannot stand up.
I'm hunching, in a remotely upright position.
And the pack, everywhere it makes contact with my body,
is rubbing my skin away, and my feet are blistering.
I don't encounter another human being in the first eight days of my hike.
I was out there 94 days.
It became the norm that I would go days on end without seeing another person.
All of that was incredibly difficult for me,
and interesting to me, and good for me.
I finished my trip at The Bridge of the Gods,
at the Columbia River, in Cascade Locks, Oregon,
two days before my 27th birthday, on September 15, 1995.
What I learned in that journey:
I just want to say first I hiked 11,000 miles of the PCT
- there are a lot of people who have hiked a lot longer, a lot better,
they are a lot more incredible in what they did -
and also, my suffering.
I was 22, and I lost my mom to cancer.
I'm not alone in that.
I know that a lot of you have suffered,
and so I don't mean to say that my suffering was greater
nor that the journey I was on was any more heroic
than anything any number of people have done and outdone, to be certain.
But it was the most heroic thing that I had ever done.
And that suffering was the greatest that I had ever suffered.
I was out there trying to come to grips with my own life,
which is the thing you all have to come to grips with.
We all do; it's being human.
I did; I learned how to be resilient,
I learned about, I guess the fact that even though, here I was,
carrying this weight I couldn't bear, I bore it.
And even though I couldn't live in a world without my mother, I was living in one.
That's a powerful, powerful, radical lesson.
I redefined strength.
That strength was a very humble thing.
That it was taking the next step, it was going one more mile,
it was lasting another day.
I learned simplicity.
I had remembered that from back in my youth,
that there was power in the simple act of finding water,
and making your dinner, and watching the sunset.
Those things restored me in ways that I cannot overstate.
They reformed my core,
and they have informed everything I have done since;
the greatest things I've done since.
Mothering; having my two children, loving them the way my mother loved me.
Marrying my husband and building a relationship that feeds us both,
and sustains us both, and sustains our family.
And writing my books.
I've written three books now,
and every book, every day, every time I write, it's so hard.
It's just as hard as it was on the trail,
strapping on that backpack and walking another day.
But through the ritual of doing that, I learned that I can.
What I want to leave you with today,
I guess through that story of my journey,
is the most important thing here.
We've been talking all day about "extraordinary",
but all of these things that everyone's been talking about,
everything that I learned on my journey,
it's all stuff that is in here, it's inside of us.
And we have that there in abundance.
It's not all good that stuff that we have, but it's all in there together,
and it's what will feed us through our lives, on all the journeys,
where we reach for the ability to walk that next day.
So I thank you, and I hope you keep walking.
(Applause)
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【TEDx】Radical Sincerity: Cheryl Strayed at TEDxConcordiaUPortland

3671 タグ追加 保存
Christina Yang 2017 年 3 月 23 日 に公開
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