Christian Long

John Francis – Walks the Earth

In TED Talks on May 20, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Reflection by JACKSON H.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

John Francis – Walks the Earth

I suppose the most smart-aleck response to this video would be to post one and a half pages of blank space, and say that I acted out my response in hand signals. A sort of “posting by not posting.”

The real world, however, doesn’t work that way, so I’ll have to go about this a little differently.

I think one of the most striking points John makes is when he relates a conversation with his mother. “I told my mother I’m happy,” he says. His mother replies “If you were really happy, you wouldn’t have to say it.”

This single sentence really exposes all sorts of self-deception that we, as humans, practice all the time. I know that I’ve done the exact same thing, stating to the world that I’m happy, simply to cover up the fact that I’m, for some reason, internally distressed. Another example comes from people saying that they’re sad so that the world knows it, and subsequently, they can get some attention (which, depending on the circumstances, they may or may not need). The result is that the feelings that we express by mouth are the feelings that are usually false. And John’s mute adventures have given him the opportunity to express his true feelings, not by advertising them to the world, but simply by exuding the state of mind of whatever emotion possesses him.

As the Talk is viewed, it’s easy to see his enthusiasm for his adventures. It’s the kind of feeling he radiates that makes watching the Talk enjoyable and memorable – he really cares about what he’s talking about, it’s not just a dissertation on his field of expertise. This is the kind of skill & emotion that we all need to carry through in life, if only to make our experiences more interesting to our fellow human beings. Because if we’re not interesting, no one’s going to listen, and a listening ear is one of the greatest gifts a person can give.

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