TED Conversations

Terry Torok

Founder at Angel Producers, Founder at Live from Earth


This conversation is closed.

Why were YOU were born?

What is your Why and How are You? So what if it matters... The why can be a wild discovery about yourself, an interesting moment when and if, you discover it... and very amazing if you will share it here. [thank you]


Closing Statement from Terry Torok

{sorry, a last minute iphone edit placed an inadvertent extra "were"} Some people believe the most important day of thier life is the day you discover WHY you were born. The individual true stories below relate to the power of parenting and being at peace with (or without) the pursuit of the "why". I was inspired and amazed by the open sharing of each story of Why. And Why not, when you considered the interesting people who participated! Thank you.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Feb 9 2013: Wonderful Q, Terry--

    I'm reluctant to say I 'know' anything in any absolute way. Which maybe informs my 'Why' I was born. But, here's what I've got:

    I expect my 'Why' is to use my abilities for perceiving, seeing, assessing and communicating the intersections where axiomatic dissonances and connections merge, or could. And use my 'puzzle'-solving abilities to conceive ways to maximize this 'rare space.' I tend to look beyond, around or underneath what everyone else sees--it's more interesting for me to seek what isn't known. There is often such rich illuminations in these lesser-observed or trod vistas--often quite profound. In them I find deeper, more authentic patterns that offer untapped if not more elegant answers. As these come into sight, I feel compelled to share them with others in ways they too can perceive and act on them.

    I suspect my purpose is to be a bridge to other views and ways of different people, environments and experiences. There seems a spiritual element in this all. It draws me in, erases fears others might have and 'fuels' me in unexplainable and transcendent ways.

    In fact, I've experienced a palpable 'awakening' of this all. Until the last decade or so I was far more instinct-based, much less conscious of it. But during a transformative time around 2000, I began intentionally orienting my work/life/spirituality around my 'purpose, passion and predicament.'

    Purpose hints at my "Why," of course. Passion gets at my "How," somewhat. When I feel compelled in an "can't hold back," way to whatever. Predicament also addresses "How," It's where I live, what stages my family is at, our relative health, financial status, etc. As well as my current abilities: what I'm credentialed, qualified or able to do, given numerous variables.

    Most gratifyingly, I'm increasingly aware of much 'evidence' of my 'Why' and 'How,' via 'too-coincidental' coincidences and others' resonant observations. All inspire me to 'go with- and grow with it' all.

    • thumb
      Feb 9 2013: Wonderful and insightful answers Andrea - thank you... if your are a bridge, then a very gracious, elegant one that connects in many directions on many levels. [something we could use in NYC when the GWB backs up]

      Do you find that your awakening occurred because you simply gave yourself some devoted time or permission to focus on you? or was it a longer journey of discover while life pulled you in many directions?
      • thumb
        Feb 9 2013: Ah! The GWB would be a great challenge: nice and tangly, with bonus of many grumps thrown in. Reminds me of when OWS backed it up. I'd have loved to wade in and bridge cars with CEOs and protesters with placards. But that's over, so, I'll offer this: I like trudging through deep snow in my Sorrels, too: what fun it would be to mediate Manhattanites on the GWB this coming Monday a.m.

        Now, to your Q.

        I've always been reflective and curious, so some of this I've been aware of for some time, particularly the spiritual and passions for seeing deeper/beyond and bridging diversities. But I only began engaging this all with intention when my second child was born, three months premature. At the time I was in the corporate world, consulting after having left the tech-company I'd founded shortly after my daughters birth, two years before. I had to drop everything for my son's care, which included being 'quarantined' with him at home, to protect his frail immune system.

        I was pretty sure I'd go crazy from the stress and lack of mental stimulation, and shared this with a friend. She suggested I use the time to reflect my bigger picture more deeply. I'd been doing so in fits and starts, but hadn't quite been able to put it all together. She suggested I read Parker Palmer's "Let Your Life Speak," which I found insightful and empowering.

        What came out of all this was a new career as a journalist--it connected a Passion (writing) with my Predicament (family needs). Purpose was less defined, except that I was committed to insuring I snuck empathic human connections in my articles. A profile I did on a civic engagement guru seduced me into community organizing. I sought him later on an initiative I led. The work was idealistic if not overly-so, but I was smitten. A leading thinker in the field covered my work in a book.

        As I read his "Citizen Solution" all came into clarity, fully opening my eyes, mind and heart to my Why and How--and to ongoing iterations of both.

    • thumb

      . . 100+

      • +3
      Feb 10 2013: ' Purpose, passion and predicament.'

      Thank you Andrea for your inspiration , Great to see you :) Long time!!

      I like your 3 'P's and the inspiration in the way you 'found' your way... When I was about 9 years old, I learned something that shaped my concept of 'predicament' and planted a question in my mind, which I am still searching for answers to. The book I read was a biography of Vincent Van Gogh. He had purpose and he had passion. He was a highly empathic purposeful person (initially trained himself to be a priest). He was capable of feeling essential beauty of life and even transferring that passion through his genius to others. And despite the fact that everyone "gets" his art 80 years afterwards, he was unable to make himself understood in 'real time' (during his time on earth), which put him in a 'predicament' that did not support his own life. So the question that has been in the back of my head, all these years, is what could Vincent Van Gogh have done to live a decent full life?
      I look forward to hearing from you and Terry and others here and if this thread is closed then in another:-)
      • thumb
        Feb 10 2013: Juliette,

        Good to connect here on TED, again. And, thanks to Terry for 'getting us here' with a great Q.

        This Van Gogh 'predicament' is indeed worth pondering, Juliette. I wonder how his path might parallel others. Steve Jobs comes to mind. Of course, his passion wasn't most specifically art, but it most certainly was in the realm: design that conveys essential, transferable empathy--via consumer products. The upshot for Jobs: he usually was paid--while Van Gogh wasn't as well.

        I also wonder how our host, here, Terry might answer this thought re: Van Gogh. Terry, from what little I know, has translated similar energies via his 'day job.'

        All this reminds me of 'Citizen Professionalism' a word and practice developed by my first (and still) civic engagement advisor, Bill Doherty. This reframing of purpose/passion with predicament more specifically understood as ones profession, blends vocation with avocation with community. In other words, taking ones' professional skills and abilities a 'step further' into civic endeavors which one is passionate about and supporting them with ones' professional gifts.

        Here's a couple of essays I wrote on the themes:

        This one addresses how Bill himself practices it, as a therapist/leader: http://dynamicshift.org/archives/coaches-time-to-train-citizen-fathers

        And, this offers examples from his Citizen Professional Center:

        Finally, as for Van Gogh, I wonder how he could have 'conspired' (perhaps did) with artists and producers like those covered in Lary May's The Big Tomorrow: Hollywood and the Politics of the American Way. Van Gogh, of course, might have been more interested in European politics.

        May shows how artists and others in creative fields parlayed their purpose and passion into their predicament during the Great Depression. They demonstrate wonderful ways to if not be 'understood' in their times, to at least impact them.

        • thumb

          . . 100+

          • 0
          Feb 11 2013: Thank you Andrea for sending me your wonderful link. I don’t even know where to begin describing my joy of it’s discovery. What a great resource!! You are a deep thinker and a very talented writer. I know I will be referring to your words and spreading them around on and off TED. (already did today!) Your perspective is refreshing, quite timely, and inspirational.

          Bill Doherty & Brad Fiedler are both amazing men!! Reading about “citizen fathers” is like reading that a new river is flowing into a desert valley. The lag in development of consciousness in this area, was becoming discouraging & I hope “Fatherhood Project” is sharing their teachings with the world.

          Dynamic shift - is the most pressing need of humanity right now. Which brings us right to Steve and Vincent. Steve was able to open a long forgotten ‘door’ that no one else had opened before him, he built a ‘bridge’ and left it for the rest of the world to cross. I often think of him in my head and keep bouncing ideas off to figure a solution for Vincent:-) It is like we are all built with both sides of the brain, but we have been trained and educated only in one. Kind of like an engine with two cylinders in which only the left one has been firing for the past few hundred yrs causing us to move very inefficiently and not always forward in direction.

          Its been a pleasure talking with you all on the TTB....down to the last ‘minute’... I look forward to ‘seeing’ you again soon and continue our co-creation of a solution for Vincent!

          Meanwhile this is for magical Brad;
          (I am sure he has already watched all videos Nick Vujicic)
      • thumb
        Feb 11 2013: Juliette --

        You are a light of energy, thanks for you kind words and your 'shares' of mine wherever you feel they might add something.

        And what a delight to connect the Brad story with Steve's powerful story. I can't wait to share the link you sent to him. And, meanwhile, will send another you and Steve might like.

        This one about David, a young man with serious neurological damage, and serious leadership skills-- on the basketball court, of all things:


        All best!


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.