On July 3rd, 2013, I received an email from Brandon Crouch, the Project and Event Manager for Utah State University's Office of Research and Graduate Studies. In his email, Brandon asked if I was interested in speaking at the annual TEDxUSU conference to be held on November 5th, 2013.
In short, my answer was...YESSSSS!!!
The theme for TEDxUSU 2013 was survive. In my excitement to accept the invitation I hadn't given much thought to what it would take to create an 18 minute presentation about something I have been doing my whole life. When I first sat down to work on my talk I ended up looking at the computer screen for about 30 minutes before thinking, and not for the last time, "Can I do this?"
Over the next four months working on this presentation became my job. Every time something popped into my head, which was usually when I was in the shower, driving or just about to fall asleep, I would pull out my iPhone and start recording my thoughts. I looked over my photographs again and again, searching for the right match for my words. Walking around my apartment, I practiced delivering my presentation to an imaginary crowd, aka my cats. My upstairs neighbor probably knows this presentation better than anyone, save myself.
After a few weeks something started to happen, something that had never been part of my plan. As I pushed further and further into my soul I began to accept my own mortality. One day I will die. This is a fact. I'm not saying that I am not afraid of death. What I mean is that by accepting my own mortality I have embraced that today, this very moment, I am alive.
On November 3rd I boarded a plane for Utah. I gave my presentation a run through in my mind then settled in with some music and caught up on photo editing. After a short layover in Houston (and a pretty good taco) we came out of the clouds in Salt Lake City just as the sun was setting on the Rocky Mountains. Hello Mother Nature.