It is 1963, and the very first New Year’s Eve that I can remember. I’ve recently turned four, and I am one of a handful of kids sleeping over at the Aronstein’s’ house, where my grandparents are attending a fancy grown-up party. The Aronstein’s have a new dog, a mop of a puppy, who both charms and terrifies me. I am afraid he will bite me. I am afraid of a lot of things: dogs, dragonflies, other children, the dark, and most especially people in wheelchairs or on crutches, because I think the appliances are parts of their bodies and that they are mutants. We kids were sent to sleep hours ago, but we all rallied together and insisted we be woken up just before midnight. So here we all are, swaying sleepily in our pajamas, in what seems like an enormous room full of hundreds of people, though surely it was a normal-sized house and there were, at best, a couple dozen guests. I am tall for my age, but all I can see is a sea of asses—some in dress slacks, some in dresses. Someone thrusts a glass with a tiny amount of champagne in it. I taste it and wrinkle my nose in disgust. The exhaustion. The bitter champagne. The butts. I think to myself that New Year’s Eve is highly overrated and vow never to celebrate it again.
Admittedly, mine was a TEDx, which means one of many regional, smaller “TEDs” around the country. But I’ll tell you something, folks: no matter how small the audience or the venue (and mine was neither), when you stand on a stage with the name “TED” in big letters behind you, it’s a thing.
Consider this a spoken blog post. And thanks for watching!
Do you have a story about your superpowers? I did. And so do many of us, because our superpowers are revealed as much in our weaknesses as in our strengths.
Example: I am a storyteller. I don’t mean sitting on stage in a Daniel Boone cap folksy storytelling (though I’m going to be taking a “stage,” of sorts, in Chicago as a storyteller–minus Dan’l’s coonskin). I mean, I communicate and connect to people and the world around me through story. I talk. A LOT. Because I process things best when I hear myself think it through out loud. I write. A LOT. Because I am head over heels in love with words and always have been. Both come relatively easily to me. And so, for years and and years, I dismissed either as a superpower. In fact, I allowed others and myself to shame me with stories like:
I talk too much.
I talk too fast.
I’m a “facile” writer. If I were really good, I’d work harder.
Everybody probably wishes I’d just shut up.