Daria van den Bercken: Why I take the piano on the road @ TEDSalon Berlin

I had the pleasure of attending a special TED event in 2014. TEDSalon Berlin was just a one day affair, yet it featured a number of compelling talks that served as examples of impactful stories on global issues. This post is an analysis of a talk and performance given by Daria van den Bercken.

Watch Daria van den Bercken’s TED Talk. It’s an unusual format, as Daria plays for the audience, but also includes a video of her playing in public – within her apartment, from behind a truck, and while suspended in midair.

Her idea is simple and straightforward – to listen to music in a state of wonder, to truly listen, and to listen without prejudice – which is how we tend to listen at a very young age.

Do you have a story to tell that is intended to shift perspectives about how we encounter the arts – music, theatre, art, dance? Can you combine a narrative with a demonstration to make your point?


Recently, I flew over a crowd of thousands of people in Brazil playing music by George Frideric Handel. I also drove along the streets of Amsterdam, again playing music by this same composer. Let’s take a look.

(Music: George Frideric Handel, “Allegro.” Performed by Daria van den Bercken.)

(Video) Daria van den Bercken: I live there on the third floor. (In Dutch) I live there on the corner. I actually live there, around the corner. and you’d be really welcome.

Man: (In Dutch) Does that sound like fun? Child: (In Dutch) Yes!

[(In Dutch) “Handel house concert”]

Daria van den Bercken: All this was a real magical experience for hundreds of reasons.

Now you may ask, why have I done these things? They’re not really typical for a musician’s day-to-day life. Well, I did it because I fell in love with the music and I wanted to share it with as many people as possible.

It started a couple of years ago. I was sitting at home on the couch with the flu and browsing the Internet a little, when I found out that Handel had written works for the keyboard. Well, I was surprised. I did not know this. So I downloaded the sheet music and started playing. And what happened next was that I entered this state of pure, unprejudiced amazement. It was an experience of being totally in awe of the music, and I had not felt that in a long time. It might be easier to relate to this when you hear it. The first piece that I played through started like this.


Well this sounds very melancholic, doesn’t it? And I turned the page and what came next was this.


Well, this sounds very energetic, doesn’t it? So within a couple of minutes, and the piece isn’t even finished yet, I experienced two very contrasting characters: beautiful melancholy and sheer energy. And I consider these two elements to be vital human expressions. And the purity of the music makes you hear it very effectively.

I’ve given a lot of children’s concerts for children of seven and eight years old, and whatever I play, whether it’s Bach, Beethoven, even Stockhausen, or some jazzy music, they are open to hear it, really willing to listen, and they are comfortable doing so.

And when classes come in with children who are just a few years older, 11, 12, I felt that I sometimes already had trouble in reaching them like that. The complexity of the music does become an issue, and actually the opinions of others – parents, friends, media – they start to count.

But the young ones, they don’t question their own opinion. They are in this constant state of wonder, and I do firmly believe that we can keep listening like these seven-year-old children, even when growing up. And that is why I have played not only in the concert hall but also on the street, online, in the air: to feel that state of wonder, to truly listen, and to listen without prejudice. And I would like to invite you to do so now.

(Music: George Frideric Handel, “Chaconne in G Major.” Performed by Daria van den Bercken.)

[Note: all comments inserted into this transcript are my opinions, not those of the speaker, the TED organization, nor anyone else on the planet. In my view, each story is unique, as is every interpretation of that story. The sole purpose of these analytical posts is to inspire a storyteller to become a storylistener, and in doing so, make their stories more impactful.]

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contact me to discuss your storytelling goals!

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Simon Anholt: Which country does the most good for the world? @ TEDSalon Berlin

I had the pleasure of attending a special TED event in 2014. TEDSalon Berlin was just a one day affair, yet it featured a number of compelling talks that served as examples of impactful stories on global issues. This post is an analysis of a talk given by Simon Anholt.

Watch Simon Anholt’s TED Talk. We all know that some countries are much more concerned with the fate of the entire world, but how can the level of a country’s goodness be measured? It seemed to be an impossible task to me, but Simon describes how it can be done, and it remains one of my favorite TED Talks.

Do you want to live in a powerful country, a rich country, a happy country, or a good country? Regardless of how you answer the question, the underlying point of this talk (in my opinion) is to encourage us to think differently about how we perceive countries around the world. Will your story shift people’s perceptions?


(my notes in red)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the world recently and how it’s changed over the last 20, 30, 40 years. Twenty or 30 years ago, if a chicken caught a cold and sneezed and died in a remote village in East Asia, it would have been a tragedy for the chicken and its closest relatives, but I don’t think there was much possibility of us fearing a global pandemic and the deaths of millions. Twenty or 30 years ago, if a bank in North America lent too much money to some people who couldn’t afford to pay it back and the bank went bust, that was bad for the lender and bad for the borrower, but we didn’t imagine it would bring the global economic system to its knees for nearly a decade.

This is globalization. This is the miracle that has enabled us to transship our bodies and our minds and our words and our pictures and our ideas and our teaching and our learning around the planet ever faster and ever cheaper. It’s brought a lot of bad stuff, like the stuff that I just described, but it’s also brought a lot of good stuff. A lot of us are not aware of the extraordinary successes of the Millennium Development Goals, several of which have achieved their targets long before the due date. That proves that this species of humanity is capable of achieving extraordinary progress if it really acts together and it really tries hard.

But if I had to put it in a nutshell these days, I sort of feel that globalization has taken us by surprise, and we’ve been slow to respond to it. If you look at the downside of globalization, it really does seem to be sometimes overwhelming. All of the grand challenges that we face today, like climate change and human rights and demographics and terrorism and pandemics and narco-trafficking and human slavery and species loss, I could go on, we’re not making an awful lot of progress against an awful lot of those challenges.

So in a nutshell, that’s the challenge that we all face today at this interesting point in history. That’s clearly what we’ve got to do next. We’ve somehow got to get our act together and we’ve got to figure out how to globalize the solutions better so that we don’t simply become a species which is the victim of the globalization of problems.

Setting the stage is an important element of any idea-driven story. If the intent of your idea is to make things better, your story needs to describe the current state of affairs with regards to your topic. In this talk, Simon spends two minutes framing the status quo around the notion of globalization. His take is that, while it has brought us many benefits, our global society has struggled to implement solutions to critical issues.

Can you identify a key element that your story revolves around? One that will serve as a launching point for the journey you’ll be taking your audience on?

Why are we so slow at achieving these advances? What’s the reason for it? Well, there are, of course, a number of reasons, but perhaps the primary reason is because we’re still organized as a species in the same way that we were organized 200 or 300 years ago. There’s one superpower left on the planet and that is the seven billion people, the seven billion of us who cause all these problems, the same seven billion, by the way, who will resolve them all. But how are those seven billion organized? They’re still organized in 200 or so nation-states, and the nations have governments that make rules and cause us to behave in certain ways.

And that’s a pretty efficient system, but the problem is that the way that those laws are made and the way those governments think is absolutely wrong for the solution of global problems, because it all looks inwards. The politicians that we elect and the politicians we don’t elect, on the whole, have minds that microscope. They don’t have minds that telescope. They look in. They pretend, they behave, as if they believed that every country was an island that existed quite happily, independently of all the others on its own little planet in its own little solar system.

This is the problem: countries competing against each other, countries fighting against each other. This week, as any week you care to look at, you’ll find people actually trying to kill each other from country to country, but even when that’s not going on, there’s competition between countries, each one trying to shaft the next. This is clearly not a good arrangement. We clearly need to change it. We clearly need to find ways of encouraging countries to start working together a little bit better. And why won’t they do that? Why is it that our leaders still persist in looking inwards?

Simon describes one aspect of how the political systems operate by using a visual metaphor – microscope vs. telescope. The audience easily understands the difference between focusing on a cell vs. seeing the entire universe. Do you need to provide detailed explanation to make your point clear, or is there a metaphor that can accomplish the same thing in a shorter span of time? Also note how he uses questions as a way of transitioning into the next section.

Well, the first and most obvious reason is because that’s what we ask them to do. That’s what we tell them to do. When we elect governments or when we tolerate unelected governments, we’re effectively telling them that what we want is for them to deliver us in our country a certain number of things. We want them to deliver prosperity, growth, competitiveness, transparency, justice and all of those things. So unless we start asking our governments to think outside a little bit, to consider the global problems that will finish us all if we don’t start considering them, then we can hardly blame them if what they carry on doing is looking inwards, if they still have minds that microscope rather than minds that telescope. That’s the first reason why things tend not to change.

The second reason is that these governments, just like all the rest of us, are cultural psychopaths. I don’t mean to be rude, but you know what a psychopath is. A psychopath is a person who, unfortunately for him or her, lacks the ability to really empathize with other human beings. When they look around, they don’t see other human beings with deep, rich, three-dimensional personal lives and aims and ambitions. What they see is cardboard cutouts, and it’s very sad and it’s very lonely, and it’s very rare, fortunately.

But actually, aren’t most of us not really so very good at empathy? Oh sure, we’re very good at empathy when it’s a question of dealing with people who kind of look like us and kind of walk and talk and eat and pray and wear like us, but when it comes to people who don’t do that, who don’t quite dress like us and don’t quite pray like us and don’t quite talk like us, do we not also have a tendency to see them ever so slightly as cardboard cutouts too? And this is a question we need to ask ourselves. I think constantly we have to monitor it. Are we and our politicians to a degree cultural psychopaths?

The third reason is hardly worth mentioning because it’s so silly, but there’s a belief amongst governments that the domestic agenda and the international agenda are incompatible and always will be. This is just nonsense. In my day job, I’m a policy adviser. I’ve spent the last 15 years or so advising governments around the world, and in all of that time I have never once seen a single domestic policy issue that could not be more imaginatively, effectively and rapidly resolved than by treating it as an international problem, looking at the international context, comparing what others have done, bringing in others, working externally instead of working internally.

Simon presents three examples as an answer to the question of why leaders still look inward. Knowing that a problem exists is different from understanding why that problem exists. What’s the narrative behind your problem? What points do you need to share with your audience so that they gain a basic understanding?

Since idea-driven stories need to come from a place of credibility – people are less likely to accept an idea if the person presenting it is not an expert on the subject – Simon also takes this opportunity to begin sharing the fact that he professionally studies this topic by stating, ‘I’ve spent the last 15 years or so advising governments around the world’.

And so you may say, well, given all of that, why then doesn’t it work? Why can we not make our politicians change? Why can’t we demand them? Well I, like a lot of us, spend a lot of time complaining about how hard it is to make people change, and I don’t think we should fuss about it. I think we should just accept that we are an inherently conservative species. We don’t like to change. It exists for very sensible evolutionary reasons. We probably wouldn’t still be here today if we weren’t so resistant to change.

It’s very simple: Many thousands of years ago, we discovered that if we carried on doing the same things, we wouldn’t die, because the things that we’ve done before by definition didn’t kill us, and therefore as long as we carry on doing them, we’ll be okay, and it’s very sensible not to do anything new, because it might kill you. But of course, there are exceptions to that. Otherwise, we’d never get anywhere. And one of the exceptions, the interesting exception, is when you can show to people that there might be some self-interest in them making that leap of faith and changing a little bit.

So I’ve spent a lot of the last 10 or 15 years trying to find out what could be that self-interest that would encourage not just politicians but also businesses and general populations, all of us, to start to think a little more outwardly, to think in a bigger picture, not always to look inwards, sometimes to look outwards. And this is where I discovered something quite important.

In 2005, I launched a study called the Nation Brands Index. What it is, it’s a very large-scale study that polls a very large sample of the world’s population, a sample that represents about 70 percent of the planet’s population, and I started asking them a series of questions about how they perceive other countries.

And the Nation Brands Index over the years has grown to be a very, very large database. It’s about 200 billion data points tracking what ordinary people think about other countries and why. Why did I do this? Well, because the governments that I advise are very, very keen on knowing how they are regarded. They’ve known, partly because I’ve encouraged them to realize it, that countries depend enormously on their reputations in order to survive and prosper in the world.

If a country has a great, positive image, like Germany has or Sweden or Switzerland, everything is easy and everything is cheap. You get more tourists. You get more investors. You sell your products more expensively. If, on the other hand, you have a country with a very weak or a very negative image, everything is difficult and everything is expensive. So governments care desperately about the image of their country, because it makes a direct difference to how much money they can make, and that’s what they’ve promised their populations they’re going to deliver.

Simon expands on his expertise in detail by describing a study that he launched, and he also introduces the concept of brand – how people perceive things – in the context of a country’s reputation. As you’ll see, he uses ‘brand’ as a bridge to ‘good’.

So a couple of years ago, I thought I would take some time out and speak to that gigantic database and ask it, why do some people prefer one country more than another? And the answer that the database gave me completely staggered me. It was 6.8. I haven’t got time to explain in detail. Basically what it told me was the kinds of countries we prefer are good countries.

We don’t admire countries primarily because they’re rich, because they’re powerful, because they’re successful, because they’re modern, because they’re technologically advanced. We primarily admire countries that are good. What do we mean by good? We mean countries that seem to contribute something to the world in which we live, countries that actually make the world safer or better or richer or fairer. Those are the countries we like.

This is a discovery of significant importance – you see where I’m going – because it squares the circle. I can now say, and often do, to any government, in order to do well, you need to do good. If you want to sell more products, if you want to get more investment, if you want to become more competitive, then you need to start behaving, because that’s why people will respect you and do business with you, and therefore, the more you collaborate, the more competitive you become.

Now at the midpoint of his talk, Simon summarizes what his study found, that ‘in order to do well, you need to do good’. Ideas come from a combination of personal experience and scientific research. It doesn’t necessarily mean the idea is correct, but in a well told story there exists a logical progression which leads to the idea’s formation in the mind of the speaker.

This is quite an important discovery, and as soon as I discovered this, I felt another index coming on. I swear that as I get older, my ideas become simpler and more and more childish. This one is called the Good Country Index, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. It measures, or at least it tries to measure, exactly how much each country on Earth contributes not to its own population but to the rest of humanity.

Bizarrely, nobody had ever thought of measuring this before. So my colleague Dr. Robert Govers and I have spent the best part of the last two years, with the help of a large number of very serious and clever people, cramming together all the reliable data in the world we could find about what countries give to the world.

And you’re waiting for me to tell you which one comes top. And I’m going to tell you, but first of all I want to tell you precisely what I mean when I say a good country. I do not mean morally good. When I say that Country X is the goodest country on Earth, and I mean goodest, I don’t mean best. Best is something different.

When you’re talking about a good country, you can be good, gooder and goodest. It’s not the same thing as good, better and best. This is a country which simply gives more to humanity than any other country. I don’t talk about how they behave at home because that’s measured elsewhere. And the winner is Ireland.

According to the data here, no country on Earth, per head of population, per dollar of GDP, contributes more to the world that we live in than Ireland. What does this mean? This means that as we go to sleep at night, all of us in the last 15 seconds before we drift off to sleep, our final thought should be, godammit, I’m glad that Ireland exists.

And that, in the depths of a very severe economic recession, I think that there’s a really important lesson there, that if you can remember your international obligations whilst you are trying to rebuild your own economy, that’s really something. Finland ranks pretty much the same. The only reason why it’s below Ireland is because its lowest score is lower than Ireland’s lowest score.

About three quarters of the way into his talk Simon reveals the primary point of the story – the Good Country Index – and the results of his study. But results and reasons are different, so he then examines his findings in greater detail. For your story, what did you learn along the way? What did you conclude from your research?

Now the other thing you’ll notice about the top 10 there is, of course, they’re all, apart from New Zealand, Western European nations. They’re also all rich. This depressed me, because one of the things that I did not want to discover with this index is that it’s purely the province of rich countries to help poor countries. This is not what it’s all about.

And indeed, if you look further down the list, I don’t have the slide here, you will see something that made me very happy indeed, that Kenya is in the top 30, and that demonstrates one very, very important thing. This is not about money. This is about attitude. This is about culture. This is about a government and a people that care about the rest of the world and have the imagination and the courage to think outwards instead of only thinking selfishly.

I’m going to whip through the other slides just so you can see some of the lower-lying countries. There’s Germany at 13th, the U.S. comes 21st, Mexico comes 66th, and then we have some of the big developing countries, like Russia at 95th, China at 107th. Countries like China and Russia and India, which is down in the same part of the index, well, in some ways, it’s not surprising. They’ve spent a great deal of time over the last decades building their own economy, building their own society and their own polity, but it is to be hoped that the second phase of their growth will be somewhat more outward-looking than the first phase has been so far.

And then you can break down each country in terms of the actual datasets that build into it. I’ll allow you to do that. From midnight tonight it’s going to be on goodcountry.org, and you can look at the country. You can look right down to the level of the individual datasets.

Simon’s slides are very busy, with more data than can be comprehended in such a short talk, but showing the different categories and rankings provides its own sense of credibility to the conclusions being drawn. Simply showing a list of countries with overall rank would be much easier for the audience to read, but far less effective in making his point.

Striking a balance between presenting too much and too little data is always a challenge when deciding how much to share. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. It’s something you have to determine for yourself. If you have the time, rehearse with different versions of your slides before making a final commitment.

Now that’s the Good Country Index. What’s it there for? Well, it’s there really because I want to try to introduce this word, or reintroduce this word, into the discourse. I’ve had enough hearing about competitive countries. I’ve had enough hearing about prosperous, wealthy, fast-growing countries. I’ve even had enough hearing about happy countries because in the end that’s still selfish. That’s still about us, and if we carry on thinking about us, we are in deep, deep trouble.

I think we all know what it is that we want to hear about. We want to hear about good countries, and so I want to ask you all a favor. I’m not asking a lot. It’s something that you might find easy to do and you might even find enjoyable and even helpful to do, and that’s simply to start using the word “good” in this context. When you think about your own country, when you think about other people’s countries, when you think about companies, when you talk about the world that we live in today, start using that word in the way that I’ve talked about this evening.

Not good, the opposite of bad, because that’s an argument that never finishes. Good, the opposite of selfish, good being a country that thinks about all of us. That’s what I would like you to do, and I’d like you to use it as a stick with which to beat your politicians. When you elect them, when you reelect them, when you vote for them, when you listen to what they’re offering you, use that word, “good,” and ask yourself, “Is that what a good country would do?”

And if the answer is no, be very suspicious. Ask yourself, is that the behavior of my country? Do I want to come from a country where the government, in my name, is doing things like that? Or do I, on the other hand, prefer the idea of walking around the world with my head held high thinking, “Yeah, I’m proud to come from a good country”? And everybody will welcome you. And everybody in the last 15 seconds before they drift off to sleep at night will say, “Gosh, I’m glad that person’s country exists.”

Ultimately, that, I think, is what will make the change. That word, “good,” and the number 6.8 and the discovery that’s behind it have changed my life. I think they can change your life, and I think we can use it to change the way that our politicians and our companies behave, and in doing so, we can change the world. I’ve started thinking very differently about my own country since I’ve been thinking about these things. I used to think that I wanted to live in a rich country, and then I started thinking I wanted to live in a happy country, but I began to realize, it’s not enough. I don’t want to live in a rich country. I don’t want to live in a fast-growing or competitive country. I want to live in a good country, and I so, so hope that you do too.

Simon’s conclusion includes a call to action for the audience – to think differently about their own country from the standpoint of doing good – ‘good being a country that thinks about all of us’. What shift in perception do you want your audience to adopt after hearing your story? When they leave the theatre will they think of the world (and their place in it) differently?

[Note: all comments inserted into this transcript are my opinions, not those of the speaker, the TED organization, nor anyone else on the planet. In my view, each story is unique, as is every interpretation of that story. The sole purpose of these analytical posts is to inspire a storyteller to become a storylistener, and in doing so, make their stories more impactful.]

Learn more about the coaching process or
contact me to discuss your storytelling goals!

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates!

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Heather Barnett: What humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime @ TEDSalon Berlin

I had the pleasure of attending a special TED event in 2014. TEDSalon Berlin was just a one day affair, yet it featured a number of compelling talks that served as examples of impactful stories on global issues. This post is an analysis of a talk given by Heather Barnett on a most unusual character – a slime mold.

Watch Heather Barnett’s TED Talk. From what seems to be an unusual subject we come to see our human experience differently. It’s not easy to take people on a journey from something unfamiliar to something universal, but Heather does so masterfully.


(my notes in red)

I’d like to introduce you to an organism: a slime mold, Physarum polycephalum. It’s a mold with an identity crisis, because it’s not a mold, so let’s get that straight to start with. It is one of 700 known slime molds belonging to the kingdom of the amoeba. It is a single-celled organism, a cell, that joins together with other cells to form a mass super-cell to maximize its resources. So within a slime mold you might find thousands or millions of nuclei, all sharing a cell wall, all operating as one entity. In its natural habitat, you might find the slime mold foraging in woodlands, eating rotting vegetation, but you might equally find it in research laboratories, classrooms, and even artists’ studios.

Great opening lines capture the attention of an audience, and one of the most powerful ways to do this is by way of curiosity, which is what occurs when your topic is something that the listener or reader has never heard of. And while using technical jargon can be an impediment to curiosity when left to its own devices, Heather provides us with a vivid description of what ‘Physarum polycephalum’ is all about.

From a physicality standpoint, she holds up pinched fingers when mentioning ‘single-celled organism’, then spreads her arms shoulder width when stating ‘joins together with other cells’ and spreads her arms further when using the term ‘mass super-cell’.

These are subtle gestures, yet they reinforce the visual of how this organism operates. Watch her movements and gestures throughout the telling of this story. There’s much to learn here about stage presence that is both natural and impactful.

I first came across the slime mold about five years ago. A microbiologist friend of mine gave me a petri dish with a little yellow blob in it and told me to go home and play with it. The only instructions I was given, that it likes it dark and damp and its favorite food is porridge oats. I’m an artist who’s worked for many years with biology, with scientific processes, so living material is not uncommon for me.

I’ve worked with plants, bacteria, cuttlefish, fruit flies. So I was keen to get my new collaborator home to see what it could do. So I took it home and I watched. I fed it a varied diet. I observed as it networked. It formed a connection between food sources. I watched it leave a trail behind it, indicating where it had been. And I noticed that when it was fed up with one petri dish, it would escape and find a better home.

While we might have thought that Heather was a scientist – after all, who other than a scientist would talk about slime mold – we learn that she is, in fact, an artist, which tells our brain to shift gears and be ready for a different perspective on the topic.

Audiences want to know who you are, and why you’re so interested in the topic of your story. For experience-driven stories, those answers tend to be more obvious, but for idea-driven stories, you need to weave in those details.

I captured my observations through time-lapse photography. Slime mold grows at about one centimeter an hour, so it’s not really ideal for live viewing unless there’s some form of really extreme meditation, but through the time lapse, I could observe some really interesting behaviors. For instance, having fed on a nice pile of oats, the slime mold goes off to explore new territories in different directions simultaneously. When it meets itself, it knows it’s already there, it recognizes it’s there, and instead retreats back and grows in other directions. I was quite impressed by this feat, at how what was essentially just a bag of cellular slime could somehow map its territory, know itself, and move with seeming intention.

Imagine hearing this story without the benefit of Heather’s time-lapse photography. The story can be told, but the moving images make her description much more dramatic. Her use of images in the balance of her talk serve to increase impact. They say what can’t be easily described in full. Imagine how your words and images will play out in someone’s mind.

I found countless scientific studies, research papers, journal articles, all citing incredible work with this one organism, and I’m going to share a few of those with you.

For example, a team in Hokkaido University in Japan filled a maze with slime mold. It joined together and formed a mass cell. They introduced food at two points, oats of course, and it formed a connection between the food. It retracted from empty areas and dead ends. There are four possible routes through this maze, yet time and time again, the slime mold established the shortest and the most efficient route. Quite clever. The conclusion from their experiment was that the slime mold had a primitive form of intelligence.

Another study exposed cold air at regular intervals to the slime mold. It didn’t like it. It doesn’t like it cold. It doesn’t like it dry. They did this at repeat intervals, and each time, the slime mold slowed down its growth in response. However, at the next interval, the researchers didn’t put the cold air on, yet the slime mold slowed down in anticipation of it happening. It somehow knew that it was about the time for the cold air that it didn’t like. The conclusion from their experiment was that the slime mold was able to learn.

A third experiment: the slime mold was invited to explore a territory covered in oats. It fans out in a branching pattern. As it goes, each food node it finds, it forms a network, a connection to, and keeps foraging. After 26 hours, it established quite a firm network between the different oats. Now there’s nothing remarkable in this until you learn that the center oat that it started from represents the city of Tokyo, and the surrounding oats are suburban railway stations.

The slime mold had replicated the Tokyo transport network – a complex system developed over time by community dwellings, civil engineering, urban planning. What had taken us well over 100 years took the slime mold just over a day. The conclusion from their experiment was that the slime mold can form efficient networks and solve the traveling salesman problem.

It is a biological computer. As such, it has been mathematically modeled, algorithmically analyzed. It’s been sonified, replicated, simulated. World over, teams of researchers are decoding its biological principles to understand its computational rules and applying that learning to the fields of electronics, programming and robotics.

The best way to make a scientific point, especially when you’re not a scientist, is to reference published work from scientists who are subject matter experts in regards to your subject. Not citing bona fide evidence, and simply making claims as though they are facts, will often create doubt in the minds of the audience. You’re not an expert in the field, so why should they believe you? In this case, however, Heather cites three scientific studies that illustrate a central theme of her story – intelligence.

So the question is, how does this thing work? It doesn’t have a central nervous system. It doesn’t have a brain, yet it can perform behaviors that we associate with brain function. It can learn, it can remember, it can solve problems, it can make decisions. So where does that intelligence lie? So this is a microscopy, a video I shot, and it’s about 100 times magnification, sped up about 20 times, and inside the slime mold, there is a rhythmic pulsing flow, a vein-like structure carrying cellular material, nutrients and chemical information through the cell, streaming first in one direction and then back in another. And it is this continuous, synchronous oscillation within the cell that allows it to form quite a complex understanding of its environment, but without any large-scale control center. This is where its intelligence lies.

A classic shift in idea-driven narratives is moving from the ‘what’ to the ‘how’ – ‘what happens’ to ‘how it happens’. Other shifts may involve exploring the why, when and where aspects. This process of exploration is about moving the audience to ever deeper levels of their understanding. Taking someone on a journey is often related to space or time, but also applies to knowledge. Think about how you can unfold a complex topic, doing so in such a way that the listener can follow along. Each layer is a foundation for the next.

So it’s not just academic researchers in universities that are interested in this organism. A few years ago, I set up SliMoCo, the Slime Mould Collective. It’s an online, open, democratic network for slime mold researchers and enthusiasts to share knowledge and experimentation across disciplinary divides and across academic divides. The Slime Mould Collective membership is self-selecting. People have found the collective as the slime mold finds the oats. And it comprises of scientists and computer scientists and researchers but also artists like me, architects, designers, writers, activists, you name it. It’s a very interesting, eclectic membership.

Just a few examples: an artist who paints with fluorescent Physarum; a collaborative team who are combining biological and electronic design with 3D printing technologies in a workshop; another artist who is using the slime mold as a way of engaging a community to map their area. Here, the slime mold is being used directly as a biological tool, but metaphorically as a symbol for ways of talking about social cohesion, communication and cooperation.

From talking about the slime mold, the story comes back to Heather, and a collective that she created in order to further the understanding of this subject. The narrative then expands to include other people who are part of the collective and what they’ve done. Stories of other people is a Story Block which broadens the narrative beyond the speaker’s experience.

Other public engagement activities; I run lots of slime mold workshops, a creative way of engaging with the organism. So people are invited to come and learn about what amazing things it can do, and they design their own petri dish experiment, an environment for the slime mold to navigate so they can test its properties. Everybody takes home a new pet and is invited to post their results on the Slime Mould Collective. And the collective has enabled me to form collaborations with a whole array of interesting people. I’ve been working with filmmakers on a feature-length slime mold documentary, and I stress feature-length, which is in the final stages of edit and will be hitting your cinema screens very soon.

It’s also enabled me to conduct what I think is the world’s first human slime mold experiment. This is part of an exhibition in Rotterdam last year. We invited people to become slime mold for half an hour. So we essentially tied people together so they were a giant cell, and invited them to follow slime mold rules. You have to communicate through oscillations, no speaking. You have to operate as one entity, one mass cell, no egos, and the motivation for moving and then exploring the environment is in search of food. So a chaotic shuffle ensued as this bunch of strangers tied together with yellow ropes wearing “Being Slime Mold” t-shirts wandered through the museum park.

When they met trees, they had to reshape their connections and reform as a mass cell through not speaking. This is a ludicrous experiment in many, many ways. This isn’t hypothesis-driven. We’re not trying to prove, demonstrate anything. But what it did provide us was a way of engaging a broad section of the public with ideas of intelligence, agency, autonomy, and provide a playful platform for discussions about the things that ensued.

One of the most exciting things about this experiment was the conversation that happened afterwards. An entirely spontaneous symposium happened in the park. People talked about the human psychology, of how difficult it was to let go of their individual personalities and egos. Other people talked about bacterial communication. Each person brought in their own individual interpretation, and our conclusion from this experiment was that the people of Rotterdam were highly cooperative, especially when given beer. We didn’t just give them oats. We gave them beer as well.

How your idea and passion integrates into society can be an important part of your story. Outside of the laboratory, and beyond art or science, Heather engages people to learn in a very tangible way. They were involved, had to make decisions, but also had fun doing it. Is there a similar set of experiences that you can include in your story to demonstrate how your idea can affect the way people think and act?

But they weren’t as efficient as the slime mold, and the slime mold, for me, is a fascinating subject matter. It’s biologically fascinating, it’s computationally interesting, but it’s also a symbol, a way of engaging with ideas of community, collective behavior, cooperation. A lot of my work draws on the scientific research, so this pays homage to the maze experiment but in a different way. And the slime mold is also my working material. It’s a coproducer of photographs, prints, animations, participatory events.

Whilst the slime mold doesn’t choose to work with me, exactly, it is a collaboration of sorts. I can predict certain behaviors by understanding how it operates, but I can’t control it. The slime mold has the final say in the creative process. And after all, it has its own internal aesthetics. These branching patterns that we see we see across all forms, scales of nature, from river deltas to lightning strikes, from our own blood vessels to neural networks. There’s clearly significant rules at play in this simple yet complex organism, and no matter what our disciplinary perspective or our mode of inquiry, there’s a great deal that we can learn from observing and engaging with this beautiful, brainless blob.

I give you Physarum polycephalum.

It’s a powerful story that can begin with something we feel is insignificant – slime mold – and take us to a place where we are thinking about how humans interact with each other. After seeing this talk I began to view society differently. The chaos that occurs when we act too much as individuals, and the success that we can achieve when we work together.

There’s not any direct calls to action. Instead, this is a thought provoking narrative that offers a new perspective for the audience to do with as they wish.

[Note: all comments inserted into this transcript are my opinions, not those of the speaker, the TED organization, nor anyone else on the planet. In my view, each story is unique, as is every interpretation of that story. The sole purpose of these analytical posts is to inspire a storyteller to become a storylistener, and in doing so, make their stories more impactful.]

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Hans and Ola Rosling: How not to be ignorant about the world @ TEDSalon Berlin

I had the pleasure of attending a special TED event in 2014. TEDSalon Berlin was just a one day affair, yet it featured a number of compelling talks that served as examples of impactful stories on global issues. This post is an analysis of a talk given by Hans RoslingOla Rosling on how knowledge, or a lack of knowledge, shapes our view of the world. For a better future, we need to understand today.

Watch Hans and Ola Rosling’s TED Talk. The numbers that are being presented represent serious topics, yet the focus in not on digging into the trends, but to highlight how our perceptions about these trends are so often wrong. It’s a fun talk to watch, which doesn’t often happen with statistics, yet inspires us to use caution before jumping to conclusions.


(my notes in red)

Hans Rosling: I’m going to ask you three multiple choice questions. Use this device. Use this device to answer. The first question is, how did the number of deaths per year from natural disaster, how did that change during the last century? Did it more than double, did it remain about the same in the world as a whole, or did it decrease to less than half? Please answer A, B or C. I see lots of answers. This is much faster than I do it at universities. They are so slow. They keep thinking, thinking, thinking. Oh, very, very good.

Quite different from the reserved style of most TED speakers, Hans brings the energy level up immediately with the tone, volume, and passion in his voice. The digital interaction with the audience also differentiates this talk from a simple narration and makes the audience a character within the narration.

And we go to the next question. So how long did women 30 years old in the world go to school: seven years, five years or three years? A, B or C? Please answer.

And we go to the next question. In the last 20 years, how did the percentage of people in the world who live in extreme poverty change? Extreme poverty — not having enough food for the day. Did it almost double, did it remain more or less the same, or did it halve? A, B or C?

Now, answers. You see, deaths from natural disasters in the world, you can see it from this graph here, from 1900 to 2000. In 1900, there was about half a million people who died every year from natural disasters: floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruption, whatever, droughts. And then, how did that change?

Gapminder asked the public in Sweden. This is how they answered. The Swedish public answered like this: Fifty percent thought it had doubled, 38 percent said it’s more or less the same, 12 said it had halved.

This is the best data from the disaster researchers, and it goes up and down, and it goes to the Second World War, and after that it starts to fall and it keeps falling and it’s down to much less than half. The world has been much, much more capable as the decades go by to protect people from this, you know. So only 12 percent of the Swedes know this.

Hans uses a chart to map the answers for the first question based on a research study, then displays the actual answer as a line which proceeds across the chart along the time axis. It’s a powerful way to overlay a statistical answer in conjunction with a prediction of the answer.

So I went to the zoo and I asked the chimps. The chimps don’t watch the evening news, so the chimps, they choose by random, so the Swedes answer worse than random. Now how did you do? That’s you. You were beaten by the chimps. But it was close. You were three times better than the Swedes, but that’s not enough. You shouldn’t compare yourself to Swedes. You must have higher ambitions in the world.

Adding humor to a statistical story block isn’t the easiest thing to do, but Hans is a natural comedian alongside his talent at following the science. Can you insert a lighthearted comedic moment while sharing data? Some topics don’t lend themselves to humor, so be mindful.

Let’s look at the next answer here: women in school. Here, you can see men went eight years. How long did women go to school? Well, we asked the Swedes like this, and that gives you a hint, doesn’t it? The right answer is probably the one the fewest Swedes picked, isn’t it? Let’s see, let’s see. Here we come. Yes, yes, yes, women have almost caught up. This is the U.S. public. And this is you. Here you come. Ooh. Well, congratulations, you’re twice as good as the Swedes, but you don’t need me —

So how come? I think it’s like this, that everyone is aware that there are countries and there are areas where girls have great difficulties. They are stopped when they go to school, and it’s disgusting. But in the majority of the world, where most people in the world live, most countries, girls today go to school as long as boys, more or less. That doesn’t mean that gender equity is achieved, not at all. They still are confined to terrible, terrible limitations, but schooling is there in the world today. Now, we miss the majority. When you answer, you answer according to the worst places, and there you are right, but you miss the majority.

Beyond the numbers themselves, and how different groups faired when predicting, Hans offers an insight as to why so many people got the answer wrong. We tend to be more aware of where problems exist, not successes. He doesn’t mention it, but in my experience that’s because the news focuses on problems over successes. I’d like to see that topic analyzed in parallel, but that would make for a much longer talk.

What about poverty? Well, it’s very clear that poverty here was almost halved, and in U.S., when we asked the public, only five percent got it right. And you? Ah, you almost made it to the chimps. That little, just a few of you! There must be preconceived ideas, you know. And many in the rich countries, they think that oh, we can never end extreme poverty. Of course they think so, because they don’t even know what has happened. The first thing to think about the future is to know about the present.

This last line is a fundamental perspective that Hans is bringing into this talk – that we need to know about the present and understand what is really going on now in order to consider what the future might look like.

These questions were a few of the first ones in the pilot phase of the Ignorance Project in Gapminder Foundation that we run, and it was started, this project, last year by my boss, and also my son, Ola Rosling. He’s cofounder and director, and he wanted, Ola told me we have to be more systematic when we fight devastating ignorance. So already the pilots reveal this, that so many in the public score worse than random, so we have to think about preconceived ideas, and one of the main preconceived ideas is about world income distribution.

Look here. This is how it was in 1975. It’s the number of people on each income, from one dollar a day. See, there was one hump here, around one dollar a day, and then there was one hump here somewhere between 10 and 100 dollars. The world was two groups. It was a camel world, like a camel with two humps, the poor ones and the rich ones, and there were fewer in between.

Continuing with his fun approach to numbers, Hans uses a prop to not only point at the graph behind him, but to elicit a laugh from the audience. Props are an old trick, but you don’t see them so often anymore, so it’s a refreshing change.

But look how this has changed: As I go forward, what has changed, the world population has grown, and the humps start to merge. The lower humps merged with the upper hump, and the camel dies and we have a dromedary world with one hump only. The percent in poverty has decreased. Still it’s appalling that so many remain in extreme poverty. We still have this group, almost a billion, over there, but that can be ended now.

The challenge we have now is to get away from that, understand where the majority is, and that is very clearly shown in this question. We asked, what is the percentage of the world’s one-year-old children who have got those basic vaccines against measles and other things that we have had for many years: 20, 50 or 80 percent?

Now, this is what the U.S. public and the Swedish answered. Look at the Swedish result: you know what the right answer is. Who the heck is a professor of global health in that country? Well, it’s me. It’s me. It’s very difficult, this. It’s very difficult.

However, Ola’s approach to really measure what we know made headlines, and CNN published these results on their web and they had the questions there, millions answered, and I think there were about 2,000 comments, and this was one of the comments. “I bet no member of the media passed the test,” he said.

So Ola told me, “Take these devices. You are invited to media conferences. Give it to them and measure what the media know.” And ladies and gentlemen, for the first time, the informal results from a conference with U.S. media. And then, lately, from the European Union media. You see, the problem is not that people don’t read and listen to the media. The problem is that the media doesn’t know themselves. What shall we do about this, Ola? Do we have any ideas?

Ola Rosling: Yes, I have an idea, but first, I’m so sorry that you were beaten by the chimps. Fortunately, I will be able to comfort you by showing why it was not your fault, actually. Then, I will equip you with some tricks for beating the chimps in the future. That’s basically what I will do.

But first, let’s look at why are we so ignorant, and it all starts in this place. It’s Hudiksvall. It’s a city in northern Sweden. It’s a neighborhood where I grew up, and it’s a neighborhood with a large problem. Actually, it has exactly the same problem which existed in all the neighborhoods where you grew up as well. It was not representative. Okay? It gave me a very biased view of how life is on this planet. So this is the first piece of the ignorance puzzle. We have a personal bias.

The talk pivots in two respects at this point. Hans give the floor to his son, Ola, and it shifts from demonstrating that the public and media has a lack of awareness when it comes to important statistics, to explaining why that is and what can be done about it.

It’s pretty much at the half way mark, which is common in a problem / solution style talk. It’s important that your audience have a solid understanding of your topic before you present your idea for creating better outcomes in the future.

We have all different experiences from communities and people we meet, and on top of this, we start school, and we add the next problem. Well, I like schools, but teachers tend to teach outdated worldviews, because they learned something when they went to school, and now they describe this world to the students without any bad intentions, and those books, of course, that are printed are outdated in a world that changes. And there is really no practice to keep the teaching material up to date. So that’s what we are focusing on. So we have these outdated facts added on top of our personal bias.

What happens next is news, okay? An excellent journalist knows how to pick the story that will make headlines, and people will read it because it’s sensational. Unusual events are more interesting, no? And they are exaggerated, and especially things we’re afraid of. A shark attack on a Swedish person will get headlines for weeks in Sweden. So these three skewed sources of information were really hard to get away from.

Having presented the reasons for our general lack of knowledge, Ola uses a slide to help focus the audience’s mind on those three topics – Personal bias, Outdated facts, and News bias. The subject is far more complex than this, but for a talk under 20 minutes, it’s important to direct your narrative to the most important ideas. See if you can do that in three or less.

They kind of bombard us and equip our mind with a lot of strange ideas, and on top of it we put the very thing that makes us humans, our human intuition. It was good in evolution. It helped us generalize and jump to conclusions very, very fast. It helped us exaggerate what we were afraid of, and we seek causality where there is none, and we then get an illusion of confidence where we believe that we are the best car drivers, above the average. Everybody answered that question, “Yeah, I drive cars better.”

Okay, this was good evolutionarily, but now when it comes to the worldview, it is the exact reason why it’s upside down. The trends that are increasing are instead falling, and the other way around, and in this case, the chimps use our intuition against us, and it becomes our weakness instead of our strength. It was supposed to be our strength, wasn’t it?

So how do we solve such problems? First, we need to measure it, and then we need to cure it. So by measuring it we can understand what is the pattern of ignorance. We started the pilot last year, and now we’re pretty sure that we will encounter a lot of ignorance across the whole world, and the idea is really to scale it up to all domains or dimensions of global development, such as climate, endangered species, human rights, gender equality, energy, finance.

All different sectors have facts, and there are organizations trying to spread awareness about these facts. So I’ve started actually contacting some of them, like WWF and Amnesty International and UNICEF, and asking them, what are your favorite facts which you think the public doesn’t know?

Okay, I gather those facts. Imagine a long list with, say, 250 facts. And then we poll the public and see where they score worst. So we get a shorter list with the terrible results, like some few examples from Hans, and we have no problem finding these kinds of terrible results. Okay, this little shortlist, what are we going to do with it?

Well, we turn it into a knowledge certificate, a global knowledge certificate, which you can use, if you’re a large organization, a school, a university, or maybe a news agency, to certify yourself as globally knowledgeable. Basically meaning, we don’t hire people who score like chimpanzees. Of course you shouldn’t. So maybe 10 years from now, if this project succeeds, you will be sitting in an interview having to fill out this crazy global knowledge.

Part one of the solution is to create a knowledge certificate…

So now we come to the practical tricks. How are you going to succeed? There is, of course, one way, which is to sit down late nights and learn all the facts by heart by reading all these reports. That will never happen, actually. Not even Hans thinks that’s going to happen. People don’t have that time. People like shortcuts, and here are the shortcuts. We need to turn our intuition into strength again. We need to be able to generalize. So now I’m going to show you some tricks where the misconceptions are turned around into rules of thumb.

Part two of the solution is how to achieve that knowledge…

Let’s start with the first misconception. This is very widespread. Everything is getting worse. You heard it. You thought it yourself. The other way to think is, most things improve. So you’re sitting with a question in front of you and you’re unsure. You should guess “improve.” Okay? Don’t go for the worse. That will help you score better on our tests. That was the first one.

There are rich and poor and the gap is increasing. It’s a terrible inequality. Yeah, it’s an unequal world, but when you look at the data, it’s one hump. Okay? If you feel unsure, go for “the most people are in the middle.” That’s going to help you get the answer right.

Now, the next preconceived idea is first countries and people need to be very, very rich to get the social development like girls in school and be ready for natural disasters. No, no, no. That’s wrong. Look: that huge hump in the middle already have girls in school. So if you are unsure, go for the “the majority already have this,” like electricity and girls in school, these kinds of things. They’re only rules of thumb, so of course they don’t apply to everything, but this is how you can generalize.

Let’s look at the last one. If something, yes, this is a good one, sharks are dangerous. No — well, yes, but they are not so important in the global statistics, that is what I’m saying. I actually, I’m very afraid of sharks. So as soon as I see a question about things I’m afraid of, which might be earthquakes, other religions, maybe I’m afraid of terrorists or sharks, anything that makes me feel, assume you’re going to exaggerate the problem. That’s a rule of thumb. Of course there are dangerous things that are also great. Sharks kill very, very few. That’s how you should think.

With these four rules of thumb, you could probably answer better than the chimps, because the chimps cannot do this. They cannot generalize these kinds of rules. And hopefully we can turn your world around and we’re going to beat the chimps. Okay? That’s a systematic approach.

Ola provides four methods of improving your odds when it comes to guessing trend lines, but are you convinced they will work? I’m not speculating either way. I’m simply asking the question because if you’re creating a problem / solution, idea-driven narrative, what will matter most is whether the audience buys into your idea.

Now the question, is this important? Yeah, it’s important to understand poverty, extreme poverty and how to fight it, and how to bring girls in school. When we realize that actually it’s succeeding, we can understand it. But is it important for everyone else who cares about the rich end of this scale? I would say yes, extremely important, for the same reason. If you have a fact-based worldview of today, you might have a chance to understand what’s coming next in the future.

We’re going back to these two humps in 1975. That’s when I was born, and I selected the West. That’s the current EU countries and North America. Let’s now see how the rest and the West compares in terms of how rich you are. These are the people who can afford to fly abroad with an airplane for a vacation. In 1975, only 30 percent of them lived outside EU and North America. But this has changed, okay?

So first, let’s look at the change up till today, 2014. Today it’s 50/50. The Western domination is over, as of today. That’s nice. So what’s going to happen next? Do you see the big hump? Did you see how it moved? I did a little experiment. I went to the IMF, International Monetary Fund, website. They have a forecast for the next five years of GDP per capita. So I can use that to go five years into the future, assuming the income inequality of each country is the same.

I did that, but I went even further. I used those five years for the next 20 years with the same speed, just as an experiment what might actually happen. Let’s move into the future. In 2020, it’s 57 percent in the rest. In 2025, 63 percent. 2030, 68.

And in 2035, the West is outnumbered in the rich consumer market. These are just projections of GDP per capita into the future. Seventy-three percent of the rich consumers are going to live outside North America and Europe. So yes, I think it’s a good idea for a company to use this certificate to make sure to make fact-based decisions in the future.

It gets a bit heavy with the rapid fire numbers towards the end, and while I come away with the impression that, once again, my assumptions were wrong, I’m not sure that I come away with the feeling that the certificate is a good idea. That’s largely due to the fact that the certificate itself was not fully explained.

One of the challenges that you’ll deal with in presenting an idea with impact is getting the audience to understand both the problem and solution in a short period of time. In this case, my view is that accomplishing that task would need twice the amount of time.

This is where rehearsing in front of other people becomes extremely valuable. Without telling your audience what your talk is about, just present it, then ask them what they thought the talk was about and ask for their opinion as to whether your talk shifted their perception. If people are unclear at the end, another editing cycle is called for.

Thank you very much.

[Note: all comments inserted into this transcript are my opinions, not those of the speaker, the TED organization, nor anyone else on the planet. In my view, each story is unique, as is every interpretation of that story. The sole purpose of these analytical posts is to inspire a storyteller to become a storylistener, and in doing so, make their stories more impactful.]

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Just Another (Storytelling) Day

It’s January 1st, 2021. In one sense it’s just another day, with another sunrise, and another sunset. But our embrace of the Gregorian calendar has a way of altering our perception of time, and we, therefore, perceive ourselves as having exited one year (past) while entering another (future) at the stroke of midnight. Never mind that there are 24 time zones, and so, two dozen strokes to mark the occasion. Time, like story, is never a simple contemplation.

This “out with the old, in with the new” mindset belies the fact that nothing has actually changed. The scourge of human trafficking and climate change, religious fundamentalism, radicalized racism, pandemic passivism, and sociopathic narcissism still ravage humanity and the planet. Millions strive to change this narrative, but these are very stubborn stories.

But if midnight serves as a reset button, a way to recalibrate, to turn the page and begin writing a new narrative, then it can be a redeeming process. As the year 2020 was coming to a close I spent a few days around Christmas with my family in Sweden and thought a lot about the impending stroke of midnight that would occur after my return to Portugal.

Morning View Outside Stockholm December 2020

The extended dark mornings reminded me of the dark reality humanity was dealing with. Having endured nearly four years of the worst American president in history. A man who has publicly turned his back on 7.8 billion people – yes, even his most loyal supporters – condemning the earth to decades of environmental catastrophe. Adding to the darkness, a pandemic that was long ago predicted, and yet criminally ignored, ravaged country after country. By the time midnight arrived on December 31st over 83 million would be infected, resulting in over 1.8 million coronavirus deaths.

Yet there were lights shining within the darkness, represented by stories that I had heard throughout the year. Stories from friends, family, and many strangers. Stories of loss and disappointment, of dreams that were put on hold, or cancelled altogether. Lives that had shifted from confidence to unnerving uncertainty. Yet each story contained the seed of a different future. One that appreciated the connectedness of humanity, one that cast a light on the illusion of separateness. Was darkness serving a higher purpose?

This consideration of how dark times shape us was on my mind when an email arrived from the amazing poet Silvi Alcivar, offering an insight into the nature, and the benefit, of embracing that which has always existed in our world – darkness.

“and i keep thinking about how all the darkness of these days is really showing us where there is light, who holds it, what we have to offer of our own, and how the darkness seems to have a necessary place too. the moon knows this. and the stars. and the roots wintering in earth. and the creatures no one has ever seen who live in depths of ocean humans will never touch. and the dark itself.” ~Silvi Alcivar

I studied my fellow passengers as they boarded the return flight to Lisbon. Everyone was wearing a mask, which on the one hand was reassuring, but masks hide the emotions that play a vital role in telling our in-the-moment story. I wondered why they were there, what their reason was for ignoring – as I had done – the advice of medical experts to stay home over the holidays. What did the season mean to them? How had their year been, and what stories would they create in 2021? Truth told, each of us lives within our own mystery.

And despite the safe practices required by the airline, the reality was that we were taking a risk vs staying at home. But at the same time we were choosing life. We had decided to include others as characters in our story, creating a richer narrative. That’s not a defense of the decisions we had made, just a raw explanation, and it posed a difficult question:

If we find ourselves in the midst of darkness,
how do we choose to live life?

How will you choose to live life on January 1st, after the imagined stroke of midnight sounds and we put 2020 behind us? Will you frame the new year as a new start, or a new chapter, or maybe just another day of storytelling in your exceptional, yet mysterious life?Wheat Stalk Close Up Stockholm 2020

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