Editor's Note: The original version of this article indicated an incorrect number of speakers present at this event. The correct number is 17, as seen in this updated version. The Daily Lobo apologizes for any confusion.
The TEDxABQ event at the Albuquerque Convention Center this weekend discussed the connections humans can draw from their different lives and experiences through mutual understanding, patience and the willingness to listen.
More audience members than seats filled the auditorium to listen to 17 speakers and six performers from various cultural and educational backgrounds speak about important discoveries in their lives.
The event began with a violinist, Phoenix Avalon, performing segments of his favorite classical pieces. He spoke of his journey to understand how he, as a classical violinist, can fit into today’s fast-paced, technology-driven society.
Avalon spoke of the emotional expression he feels playing the violin as a means of connection to what some consider an outdated music. He discovered the relationships one can build through music as he played at the bedside of his favorite teacher in the last days of her battle with breast cancer.
Olivia Gatwood, a poet, performed after Phoenix. She made the audience squirm in their seats as she began to recount through poetry her first experience using a tampon.
Although her story revolved around elements of queer identity, girlhood and body image, by the end of her poem she had the entire audience laughing.
She then spoke of how poetry has opened up a world of expression for her.
“If we allow ourselves to look at our memories — and instead of insignificant or unrelatable...think of them as an archive of events that, regardless of size, have equal weight,” Gatwood said.
Gatwood’s performance exemplified how connections can be found through sharing personal, embarrassing stories; reminders of our humanness.
Air Force Lt. Col. Jannell MacAulay took the stage to describe how the practice of mindfulness has improved not only her life, but also the lives of the men and women that make up the 58th Special Operations Wing she commands at Kirkland Air Force base.
“Mindfulness reminds me to slow down,” MacAuley said.
She described her practice as a way to stop ruminating on the past and worrying about her future, to be present with her children and her squad members alike.
It is this mindfulness that reminds her to take a few minutes of her day to not only breathe and relax but also to remember to congratulate her squad members when they get a promotion.
It is this mindfulness, as Jannell MacAulay describes it, that creates a culture of “trust, care, love and connection” that TEDxABQ promotes.
Shayai Lucero took the stage in her traditional native dress to describe what happens when connections, patience and mindfulness break down. The result is a lack of tolerance.
Lucero tearfully described an experience she had with a woman who used racial slurs and derogatory remarks to describe Lucero’s ethnicity.
While the fear and hurt built up, Lucero reminded herself of the lessons she learned from her grandfather growing up in the Acoma and Laguna Pueblos: patience, adaptability and the willingness to change can get someone through even the most stressful situations in life.
Hannah Eisenberg is a culture reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DailyLobo.