It seems obvious, I know. People make life awesome.
There are benefits to solitude. I love my coffee mornings when it's just me and a book. I love being down by the lake on my own, or taking long drives by myself. And I love having my morning train rides.
But people can make a good time into an even better time. Having someone to share an experience with, whether it's an old friend (I met my first friend 25 years ago, and I've known many of my good friends for nearly a decade now!) or a brand new one, is often far more fun than having it alone. Plus, then you can relive it over and over again.
People are also what can make moving across the world so difficult. Leaving those you love is hard.
But meeting new people is so enriching and so much fun.
So here's to all the people in my life.
Whether you've been there for 27 years or a single day, I'm thankful for you.
My job is technology. I spend every day doing a combination of research, problem solving, teaching, sharing, and presenting, all related to technology and education. And I love it. I get to work with 350 kids ages 3-10 (I’m at maybe 150 or so on the whole remembering names thing, which I think is pretty decent) and dozens of adults. Most days I have at least one nerd moment when I get really giddy about some cool thing that teachers can do with kids or that I can use on my phone or iPad. The potential of technology is incredible, and it’s awe-inspiring to look back just a few years to see how far and how fast things have moved.
But I must admit that sometimes, it’s just all a bit too much. Most people know (some better than others), that I can be difficult to get in touch with at times. It might take awhile to respond to a text. I might miss your call because my phone is on silent or in the other room. It might take months to finish a single game of Words With Friends. It’s nothing personal, I promise. I just sometimes overload on technology, especially now that I spend my work days with computers and iPads, and there are days when I want to throw my phone and computer against the wall or hide them in a box and go back to the days when leaving the house meant leaving your phone behind and experiencing only what's in front of you.
But despite all of that, I wouldn’t want to go back to a time without my iPhone. You can learn anything, research anything, photograph anything, and talk to anyone. I’m not sure that I could live so far away from friends and family if Skype didn’t exist. The world seems much smaller than it used to. I can talk to Thailand like it's next door, or play a game with my cousin from thousands of miles away, or wish my niece a happy 1st birthday even when I can't be there. I can now say that I have friends or family on every inhabited continent in the world, which would’ve been difficult a few generations ago.
Recently, I’ve started watching a lot of TED videos. They are really fascinating, cover sundry topics, and are free to watch! Some are 3 minutes long, some are 20.
Some of my favorites so far are...
The Shared Experience of Absurdity
Charlie Todd, founder of Improv Everywhere, who pulls public pranks such as the Pantless Subway Ride
Before I Die I Want To...
Candy Chang, an artist who set up a giant public chalkboard asking people to respond to the prompt
"Before I die I want to..."
What Adults Can Learn From Kids
Adora Svitak, a child prodigy explaining why adults should be more like kids
Half A Million Secrets
Frank Warren, the founder of the Post Secret blog
An Animated Tour of the Invisible
John Lloyd, talking about all things invisible
It’s really hard to pick just a few favorites. Some are inspiring, some are challenging, and some are just flat-out funny. I love that unique ideas can be shared so easily and so widely.
On my way to Uganda a few weeks ago to visit my sister, I watched one that inspired a project. You can watch it here if you want to see the whole thing (which I recommend).
Basically, Cesar Kuriyama decided to document his life in one-second video clips strung together as a movie. He’s rarely in the clips because it’s meant to be a record of what you see and experience, and every day he chooses just one second to remember the day.
I thought this idea was brilliant. I’ve always loved the power of photos and videos and I’ve run out of space on iPhoto because I take so many. Even though I might have clear memories of, say, hosting Snowlympics with awesome friends and neighbors during the blizzard a few years ago, watching the videos we took makes it that much better.
So I decided to start my own project. I started with one second clips, but quickly decided that I like two second clips better. It’s surprising how many memories a short video clip can evoke, especially as time goes on.
It’s been exactly one month now, and I absolutely love it! It takes seconds per day to add to the video, and I now have about a minute. Some clips are more exciting than others, but hey, that’s life. By the end of 2013 I will have nearly 11 minutes of video. Personal histories, at least mine, can sometimes blend together. This way I can remember exactly what Nathan’s laugh sounded like at one year old, or that time I went dancing with a friend and 40 strangers, or how much I loved riding the train to work in the mornings past the mountains and lakes. I'm getting better at remembering to take my two seconds per day, although there's been a day or two that I've forgotten. My friends also know about my project, and they point out moments that might be a good two seconds for the day.
I love watching my video. Even the "boring" clips on those days when all I do is work and go home. It's a good reminder that even on those days, there are little things that happen.
The simple things, if you will, that can make any day a better day.
Kelly is an American teacher living in Switzerland and enjoying everything the country has to offer.