TED Conversations

Rachel Miller

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What's your story?

Unlike a typical "question-answer" forum, I am deeply interested in learning the stories of people from around the world. There's no "right" or "wrong," just a space for sharing what makes you, you!

TED and TEDx speakers are given a literal stage for sharing their story, their passion. But what about YOUR story? And YOUR passion? Every single person - an official TED-talker or not! - deserves a platform for sharing their story.

Ever since I can remember, my parents have always said "You ask too many questions!" because I've always been a curious person (and especially a curious child - I bet my parents didn't think they would have to answer so many questions about, well, everything!). As an adult, that curiosity has turned into a fascination with learning about why we are the way we are, and how we get to where we are right now.

"What's your passion?" is actually a pretty loaded question. Because within it is history, hope, pain, experience, knowledge, and the list goes on. But by starting to ask ourselves what defines our "story" and our "passion," I truly believe that this is where our hope for a better future begins.

Maybe you're still figuring out what your passion is, or what it means for your own life. That's ok! I believe that by starting the dialogue about our story, the themes of passion unfold by looking in retrospect over our lives.

So, what's your passion? Where does your story start? And where is it now?

I'm excited to read your responses!

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  • Aug 22 2013: My story:

    I've been heartbroken, disillusioned, angry and bitter.
    But I've also felt love, peace, happiness, security and have been overwhelmed with the wonders of this world, especially the people in it.

    My story is that I also want to learn about others' stories. I think listening to someone else and making the intention to notice them wholly and completely, allowing them to contradict your preconceptions and inevitable judgments, allows us to live completely in the present moment.

    I'm starting an art project out of this hypothesis...I invite you to check it out :) Its an art project that seeks to bring together a dozen strangers from around the world through sharing experiences and honoring the artist in all of us: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2090904735/kollidescopic-creations

    Peace and love,
    Emily
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    Aug 9 2013: Ok let's see, what is my story!!
    I am an Electronics Engineer,when i was young i wasn't ordinary child like every child in Sudan, i went through a lot of bad stuff growing up that i still think are effecting my life, also i was destined to go in the same way as my big brother and sister and make the same mistakes and all. BUT guess what i didn't. At some point of my life i woke up and realized the meaning of "how to treat each others right and how to become a better person", it started with the way i treat my parents, and it was a fight to do it, i worked very hard to make them trust me and treat me like i was treating them, in a different way than my bro and sis, the success in doing that gave me confidence to change other aspect of my life like my relationship with god, so i started to but god in front of me while dealing with everything cause as i am a Muslim, this relation with god is the most important relation in my life. So i started to leave a lot of bad things, i didn't lie, steal, envy, disrespect others, and others things. i became a better person, and that got me thinking why others don't try to change, and then i started to focus on the word "WHY" , it was my first answer to everything and like you #Rachel Miller said i wanted to know what makes people behave the way they do?, what drives them?, and i gave my self the nick name "the truth seeker" , that's why i replied to your post and i read the answers and shared mine for the first time, even though it's shortcut and kinda messy.
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      Aug 13 2013: Marwa, I am so happy that you are sharing your story for the first time here! Hopefully it is just the first of many times that you empower others by sharing your own experiences because we all have something to learn from each person we encounter. I am very curious - in your interactions with other people, what has been the most interesting "why" answer you have come across?
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    Aug 9 2013: My story would take days to write, but I found out that I cannot understand my story without understanding my fathers' story. My father was a first born child and his mother died giving birth to him. His father resented him for this and put him in an orphanage. His father then got married and his new wife took my father to raise. The stepmother was mentally ill and was eventually committed to a psychiatric hospital for the rest of her life. So this is who my father was...a man with a father that hated him from the day he was born and a mentally ill step mom. This is my story before I was here.
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      Aug 13 2013: Amy, how insightful! It is really remarkable that you understand that your story begins generations before it physically started with your own life. Understanding these pieces is so crucial in overcoming the muddle we sometimes must overcome in order to move forward with a passionate and fulfilling life. We are each intrinsically tied to those who came before us; but also, our own selves in our own rights. So remember that while your story is best understood in the context of other stories, YOUR story is still yours to write!
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        Aug 13 2013: Rachel, Thanks for understanding where I was going with this comment. Yes, my life is my own, finally. For the first thirty years of it I was tormented, abused beaten and intimidated by this man, but then it stopped - because he died. I held my anger for ten years until I realized that it was only hurting me. Then I went to his grave, sat on the ground and told him I forgave him. I told him that I realized that he was who he was because of what happened to him. Then I left and the anger stopped. Finally I was able to live my life without that pain and I did - starting with examining who I was and how I got that way. There is a TED speaker by the name of Brene Brown who put it so clearly when she said "Your parents cannot give you what they do not have." My father had no ability to love, no patience, no self worth no confidence no rationality because his parents did not give it to him. They just did not have it. This truly did help me move forward. I now realize that we all are who we are because of what we have been through - kind of like that saying "children learn what they live". While that is true, I also believe that we have the ability to change the pattern. My marriage is loving, my home is calm and peaceful and I tell my son I love him and I am so proud of him every time we talk It may be difficult, but with all my heart I believe that people can change the pattern of what they grew up with and chose their own path.
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          Aug 13 2013: I agree with you that people are shaped by their beginnings but many people respond to a challenging childhood by creating lovely and peaceful homes in their adulthood.
  • Aug 5 2013: My passion is learning and education. During the sixties, i spent summers teaching math in Indian Reservations, Bed-Stuy, South Bronx and the south side of Chicago. One story was my battle with "NEW MATH" something that was popular in the late 50's and early 60-'s. I had students that could discuss set theory but could not do fractions and really did understand addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

    I spent the time making sure they could do a budget, balance a check book, compute the interest rate, how much they were paying for a loan, how to compute the sales tax, etc. I also tried to relate it to what they knew about set theory.
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      Aug 13 2013: Wayne, how interesting that you moved around quite a bit to teach math! Does this passion continue today? How do you see "new math" as it relates in society today - necessary or unnecessary?
      • Aug 13 2013: completely unnecessary - there have been several very good techniques for teaching math but they have fallen on the wayside in the name of progress.
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          Aug 30 2013: As you know, school districts go through periodic adoptions of curriculum materials. The manipulatives are tied to those materials.

          My children are 15, 23, and 26. None learned math with cuisinaire rods. One or two used unifix cubes.
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        Aug 13 2013: "New math" was a phenomenon of that era. It did not work as a k12 pedagogy and was abandoned long ago..
        • Aug 30 2013: and good riddance - a bad idea based on bad assumptions. I am curious Fritzie. My son was introduced to cuisenaire rods in kindergarten and 1st grade. He was doing fractions, multiplication, and division using the rods. By the end of 1st grade, he had the basic concepts of algebra pretty well down.

          7 years later, my daughter started school and they were not using cuisenaire rods. My wife and bought a set and started her on them.

          what happened during those 7 years?

          Asked the director of math education for our school district and was told they are in the closets but no one uses them.
  • Aug 3 2013: I was raised by my parents, an electrical engineer and a very religious farm girl from P.E.I Canada. Both had working class families that struggled with loss and incapacity of the father figure early in their lives, both believed in a good education, and both poured their lives over our family such that we might grow in the right direction.

    I played a lot of competitive team sports, fished, and did most things boys did at the time. Perhaps the most formative experience for me was working through the Scouting program. I rebelled against religion, and in place of what they were teaching, I found peace in the oath, laws and activities that were provided to me by the Scouting program. Scouting was formative.

    I always liked to design and build things, so I went into engineering, even though I was not a great student. I worked full time and eventually gnawed my way through engineering school. This was formative.

    Right after high school, I met and fell in love with a beautiful young woman who is now my wife. She is smart, genuinely believed in me, and loved me...with all my imperfections. Apart from feeling exceptionally lucky, this acceptance gave me a lot of confidence, and enable me to get past some self doubt, and realize some off the potential the childhood test scores indicated I should be able to achieve. The acceptance, love, and confidence she provided were also formative.

    Together we raised a family. I became a Scout leader and tried to raise my children to the same standards of love, patience, and mentoring that I experienced in my family and she experienced in her family. This was formative.

    I have continued my education as a design engineer, and now my passion is to see that the next generation of design engineers have access to an archive of the wisdom of past generations, the tools they need to successfully compete on the world stage, and the OPPORTUNITY to design and build their dreams in both the PUBLIC and private sector here in the United States.
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      Aug 13 2013: Robert, I am deeply intrigued by your description of realizations as formative. What has been the greatest formative experience thus far? Do you anticipate many more to come?
      • Aug 17 2013: Certainly the influence my parents had on me when I was very young, and meeting my wife when I was an adult.
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      Aug 2 2013: Hi Deepak -

      How moving to hear your story about your relationship with God! When you say that things started falling in the right place, where does that put you right now? On a day to day basis, what does your work consist of?
  • Aug 2 2013: Hello, Rachel. I'm glad to write down the first comment on your conversation. My story..um..I am a korean student and my country is obsessed with English education. But it does not work well because students only learn reading and listening and grammer not speaking or writing. They go private educational institutions, feeling public educations are not enough. And this is quite sad things.
    These days, I'm curious about various languages. I'm challenging studying Chinese. It's quite hard but worth keeping.
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      Aug 2 2013: Hi Sophia -

      Thank you for your response! After schooling in Korea, do you plan to study more languages? Or do you have a dream you are working toward?
      • Aug 2 2013: I just want to learn more languages. Even though, I have studied various languages slightly, now I am going to review them in detail. Why I want to learn languages is that they are the best way to commnunicate and interact with others who are really different from me. To approach them, the attitudes kind of "I am with you, I am understanding you." are important.:)
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          Aug 13 2013: Sophia, I completely agree! Sometimes in order to help another person in the best and most helpful way, we must see through their eyes. How wonderful that you see language as a way to do that! Continue working toward this understanding and know that you are doing such wonderful work for the world!
  • Aug 30 2013: Probably started going bad when dad left as a toddler, got a step-dad who drank. About age 4 or 5, got scared witless (to put it mildly) via the anti-sexuality craze. By 4th grade I'd given-up on school - thinking I was hopelessly dumb, ugly, and pretty worthless & powerless; (though such things were never spoken by others, I felt it was a terrible truth that could not be brought to light).
    But at least I had physical prowess, with-whcih I'd learned some interesting lessons in the realms of physical prowess. I had olympian dreams to keep me awhile.
    Along the way were multiple instances of various degrees of adult/child relationships; which felt unconcerning / mildly confusing / deceitful / & shameful/self-blameful. And I grew-up in a society which seemed all-too-ready to cast the net wide of an impending monstrous fate.
    Midway through school I learned that America killed, stole, created war, etc. - not the nice big brother as presented on tv. It was a hard pill.
    Just before H.S., my biggest dreams & needs (my safety-net) were smashed to bits for decades, and I started struggling with depression.
    Everything seemed to turn around when I found writers such as L.L.Constantine & Floyd Martinson.
    In my search for truth(s), strength, power, peace, etc. I've had amazing, surprising discoveries. I try to share them all on the web, hoping to help others, & receive help as well.
    I think that's my story.
    My passion, if one could call it that, is to find truth(s), assumptions, blind-spots, peace, freedom, etc. and to live them. Hopefully fall in love, get married, have kids, heal, heal others, rule-by-example a large kingdom/verse, and do lots of rollerskating.

    What's your story? I'd like to hear yours.
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    Aug 17 2013: My story is short.
    I open my eyes and I Am me.
    I close my eyes and I Am me.
    Wherever I Go, Here I Am; Here takes me Everywhere.
  • Aug 3 2013: I will tell you and it is true.
    Some words are in..."..." because language is lacking.
    Once, I clearly remember gazing down on this planet. A "voice" "said", "Go down there."
    I "said", "I don't want to." It "said", "Go. It's only for a short time."
    I did. I wished I hadn't.
    My identity was completely destroyed by the time I was 5. I knew, as a child, that I was a totally f.....cked
    up human being by that age. The only "self" I found was that of a person in the body of a leaf. Blown by stronger forces to whereever they took me. It took me 60 years to untangle myself from the entangled ball of twine I was born into. Yet, that was not freedom nor identity for I found my own string, my own piece of twine was itself, filled with knots that had to be undone in order to one day be supple and free and relaxed. Consequently, for most of my life I had been living a lie. l......i......e ......based upon the "nots" I had been taught.
    In a great rage, I one day climbed a tree only to find the word "faith" at the top. I kicked and kicked and kicked until I was able to kick the "f" out of it and watched as the "f" floated down like a leaf, fluttering back and forth until it landed,
    in between the letters "i" & "e" of the lie I had been living, thus creating the word.........l....i....f....e
    Oh, what would my life have been like IF I could have had but a little "f"...aith in it? It was then I learned that life is like the last three letters of the word life....it's.......if......e (iffy)
    I know very little, but I know it.
    It is close to nothing. I believe in nothing.
    After all, everything came from nothing.
    How could anyone believe in anything else, without first believing in nothing?
    Now I am close to leaving and would like it very much IF I could find that "voice" that told me to, "Go down there."
    So I came to believe in what I know. In that way, I have faith in what I know. I call myself a .... faithiest.

    Who am I? I don't know. Hence, my chosen name: Random Chance
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      Aug 13 2013: Random, what is the greatest truth you have discovered in life thus far? Understandably, we often come across lies in our lives that make us question what we believe. But I am interested in what you have discovered as a truth?
      • Aug 18 2013: Rachel,
        Life is experiencing everything we (humans) once knew,
        But never had to go through.

        The mind creates the abyss,
        And the heart must cross this.

        Don't worry, something good will happen.
        If it doesn't?
        Don't worry, something bad will happen.
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    Aug 2 2013: What's my story?

    I have many... :)
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    Aug 2 2013: Well, I was born into a highly Christian family, but I turned out an atheist, which has been difficult.

    Another thing is I got interested in dairy farming as an occupation, but I like living where my family lives, my mother, sister, and brother, and there is no agriculture here, Glendale my city is a suburb of Los Angeles.

    Another part of my story is being a failure at romance so far, no marriage or children, but hoping things change.
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      Aug 13 2013: Greg, I am curious - how did you discover that you believed in line with atheist views? I may be mistaken but it seems a lot of us struggle with religion. Maybe you can share your experience in how you discovered this and followed your own belief system?
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        Aug 13 2013: Thanks for asking, Rachel. I think I just always was. I mean, look around you. We see billions of lives being lived that are very mortal. In fact, if you start counting the animals, and the plants, and the microbes, we see probably what quadrillions of lives being lived that are very mortal. The oldest thing might be a redwood tree at 2,000 years, but that's a very small amount of time in the life of the universe. We also notice that all these mortal creatures are very limited in what they can do. I mean no creature can actually create raw materials, no creature can create say dirt where there wasn't dirt before. But even if you assume the raw materials are already there, an individual creature can only do so much, even if you look at the most productive person and what they assemble out of of raw materials in their lifetime, it's still a very small amount given the size of the universe.

        But then someone will tell you that there's one creature, God, who is different from all this quadrillion of creatures, who lives forever whereas the quadrillion creatures are very mortal, who can create something out of nothing whereas the quadrillion creatures cannot, who can create whole planets even though the quadrillion creatures can only create rather small things. I mean how likely is it that one creature is so different? Possible, maybe, but not very likely, right? I prefer to go with what is probable rather than what is possible but extremely unlikely.

        By the way, I noticed on your profile you speak Spanish? But your name doesn't seem Spanish, did you just study it in college? What is your interest in let's see was the band called the Naked Mondays? What's the story behind the name?
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    Aug 2 2013: I find it hard to imagine that someone can be interested in my story, which is boring and without a climax.