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Syd with the Smrke Kid: Day 4

June 22, 2013

A day in motion. In the best way.

I rolled over and checked my watch. I groaned. It was 10:50 a.m. I had slept through all three of my alarms and the session I had agreed to speak at was happening in ten minutes. I may have broke some records in getting ready. But get ready I did and I ran to get to the Interdisciplinary Experiences session – led by Chad Harvey and Sarah Symons, two McMaster faculty who were involved with creating things like the Kentucky field course I went on in November. I spoke and then raced down to the snack table to take a plate of pineapple and a muffin as my brunch.

Then I was off to a quiet space to prepare myself for the plenary session we were delivering in a few hours. It was tasked to me to pull everything together. I was the “closer”. I started writing and it came easily. I went outside and talked to myself for a bit. The weather was lovely; sun on my face, a gentle breeze. I felt excited. Not even nervous. Just excited.

And then it was 12:30. I ran to the theatre for our final practice, managing to grab a plate of veggie lasagna on my way over and eat it too. We did our run through and worked out the kinks. We were all ready. SO READY.

And then the auditorium filled up with three hundred eager educators and we brought the house down. We made people smile, we made them cry. To spare you the hour long talk (thought hopefully the video will be available online soon!), we talked about the excellence and potential inside of Every. Single. Person, and the responsibility we have to recognize these gifts and talents in each other and affirm them, nurture them – because the only way we’re going to make a better world is if everyone is part of making it. It can’t be a single handed quest or a single team quest because that is a recipe for despair and burnout. We have to turn me into us – that’s at the heart of sustainable leadership.

I was so proud of us. And this might be coming off as arrogant and it isn’t my intention. I was just so satisfied with what we were able to create together in three days. I felt a kind of happy that had been eluding me for a while – the kind of happy where you feel like you can and should just lie down on your bed and listen to top 40 pop songs and bask in the moment because you deserve it – for being vulnerable, for ‘going there’ and for doing that while still being joyful. So yes, I did exactly that. And I was happy.

I finished my nap and it was time to get the bus downtown for the banquet dinner and award ceremony. I had an enlightening and hilarious conversation with an educator from Montreal, Paul, about corporatization in the university – the idea of brands and image control and how it was antithetical to the goal of university as the “universe”; as the soul of society. Paul was going to bike back to Montreal the next day. “How long will that take?” I asked him. “I have no idea,” he said. He also told me that he misbudgeted the amount of toothpaste he would need on the trip in the interests of limiting the amount of weight he would have to bike back with him. An interesting guy indeed.

The award ceremony itself was a little long and I have to admit that I was asleep during most of it… even though we Fellows were seated on the stage. My defense is that we were in the back rows so it wasn’t like people were going to be looking at me… right? If they did, I’m sure they had a laugh. I didn’t feel very much when my name was called and I got up and accepted it, posing for the requisite photo-op. It felt like I had won my award on that theatre stage at 1:30 p.m. and like we all had. The real value of the award had already been made clear to me and I had already accepted it. This final thing was just a formality.

And then it was time for dinner. I got close and personal with a lobster, enjoyed some traditional music and partook in some decidedly non-traditional (some might even say non-skilled) dancing. So did most of us. It was fun. I may have also drank some wine. One of the men at our table was excellent at convincing other tables to part with their bottles of wine so we always had a good supply. He was the wine whisperer!

We said goodbye to Ameena and then we were eight. Rosa and Naythrah will be leaving early tomorrow morning. We’re already talking about how we can remain connected – how we can make the most of the opportunity to know each other that we’ve been presented by this award.

But let’s finish off the day, shall we? Then we were back at the residence again (and after I had an excellent conversation with Gaurav about consciousness and mapping), deciding what we wanted to do tomorrow. Four of us decided to skip out on the conference sessions tomorrow in favour of driving the Cabot Trail. After some last minute planning, we’re ready to roll out tomorrow. Or so we hope. I’m excited again.

Going to bed at a decent hour this time… or more decent than last night, anyways.

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