TEDMED is my yearly pilgrimage of inspiration & discovery. Typically in April, this year it slid to September, with a dual simulcast in Washington DC & San Francisco. Ambitious in scale … 2 states, 2,000 delegates, 90 speakers, 80 startups & 6,700 affiliates in 140 countries — and noble in purpose … unlocking imagination in service of health & medicine … TEDMED is an achevement in combining intellect & creativity in a myraid of logistical details that somehow all works.
Yesterday, I heard the stories from an autistic 16 year old, Rosie King who stirred the group with her simple questions, “What’s so special about being normal? Have you ever felt great because someone told you how normal you are?”, a bioethicist who is more worried about the privacy of her credit card data than her genome sequencing data, and scientists who shared how to clean up your brain (sleep releases a chemical that flushes & cleanses), and that opossums are tick killing machines that impact lyme disease rates. Good stuff even by TEDMED standards.
Yet, the talk that sits in my head is from Danielle Ofri @danielleofri, who spoke of “errors as the human metabolism.” I was struck by her wisdom and candor in acknowledging imperfection, and owning our vulnerability in the relentless pursuit of learning more. Her sensibility that errors are less about exposure for shame and punishment, and more for the illumination & discovery of new possibilities both for ourselves and others. Maya Angelou said, “Now that I know better, I do better.” Reflection, discussion & collaboration around our experiences help us know better. And in that knowing … comes changes … and it is as simple and as complicated as that.