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  • I am so nervous. (Laughter)

  • Tammy didn't mention

  • the National Enquirer article either.

  • (Laughter)

  • So you get to go put it all in perspective.

  • I want you to take a moment,

  • I mean we've been talking about sustainability,

  • kind of retooling ourselves,

  • rethinking about what we want in the world.

  • And I want you to take a second

  • and think about what new purchase,

  • what item

  • would you want to hold in your arms,

  • as you die.

  • What favorite room in your house,

  • or a space,

  • could accommodate that last breath?

  • Can you imagine how our consumer patterns would change,

  • and how small our houses would shrink

  • if we asked those questions a little more often?

  • But that scares us.

  • We don't want to talk about that stuff.

  • It's the yucky stuff.

  • Our mortality,

  • we'll deal with that at another time.

  • But I've got some experience with this,

  • so I want to share with you.

  • And I'm really nervous to share it

  • because we don't go there.

  • So I'm looking out and I'm asking you guys

  • to just hold me for a moment.

  • Several years ago,

  • I was diagnosed with heart muscle disease,

  • cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure.

  • And if you're not familiar with what happens with congestive heart failure,

  • your heart starts to beat erratically,

  • and then it gets harder to pump,

  • it's working hard, but it's rigid.

  • All of a sudden, your liver, your kidneys,

  • they're not getting oxygenated.

  • Your brain is not getting oxygenated.

  • Your lungs start to fill with fluid,

  • and you die.

  • That's my fate. Maybe.

  • Two million people die every year.

  • You never know.

  • But it's the thing that scares me,

  • and I have to be honest,

  • it's not the idea of being dead that frightens me.

  • It's the couple of weeks,

  • or couple of days leading up to it,

  • that scare the crap out of me.

  • I have this fear that I'm going to end up

  • in one of those hospital beds,

  • in my friend's living room.

  • All the sudden, I'm going to have learn

  • what it means to have true humility,

  • and true gratitude,

  • as they change my diapers,

  • and they feed me,

  • and they change my clothes, like I'm a baby.

  • I'm going to have to discover

  • true love,

  • as they tell me that

  • they're so glad they've had this time

  • to walk with me.

  • It seems to me it's going to take great courage

  • to die in my friend's arms.

  • So how do you deal with that?

  • Seven years ago,

  • my answer was to build a little house.

  • I got rid of my mortgage,

  • got rid of most my personal possessions,

  • and downsized myself into a little tiny house.

  • One bedroom,

  • four wheels,

  • seven windows,

  • 84 square feet of living space.

  • It's got everything I need:

  • place to cook, place to pee,

  • place to hang out,

  • place to be Dee Williams, (Laughter)

  • place to sleep.

  • My kitchen is not really elaborate,

  • I'm off the grid.

  • So I don't have a refrigerator, I have a cooler.

  • Beer half-and-half, what more do you need?

  • (Laughter)

  • And that's it. That is really true. (Laughter)

  • Specially right now,

  • it's like I had to have in this morning -- coffee, --

  • that I'm really looking forward to a beer.

  • My kitchen has a one burner stove.

  • I've never been a good cook,

  • I will never be a good cook.

  • I let go with that mess.

  • I don't need a chief's kitchen to make me happy.

  • The bathroom.

  • So you walk in my house, I've got my kitchen layout.

  • The bathroom is directly across from it.

  • One thing you'll notice is missing,

  • It's the little flushy part of the toilet.

  • I have a composting toilet which --

  • OK, feel the love, Portland, it's a bucket.

  • (Laughter)

  • So I shower at my neighbor's house or at work.

  • I don't have water coming into my house,

  • that way I don't have to deal with water going out of my house.

  • This is my living room,

  • and it's gotten an 11.5 foot ceiling.

  • So even though it's only about a six by six foot space,

  • it's got a lot of room.

  • You know, it's got this skylight up above it,

  • I can see everything that's going on.

  • It's an awesome place to hang out.

  • What I don't have

  • is enough room to do the Bollywood dancing,

  • that we're going to do later. (Laughter)

  • But I wasn't very good at it, anyway.

  • (Laughter)

  • My sleeping loft.

  • So every night, and especially in winter,

  • I carry my dog up a seven foot ladder into the loft.

  • And, you know, I can't stand up upstairs,

  • which is fortunate because, you know,

  • how many times have you cracked your toes on a doorjamb?

  • (Laughter) On the nightstand?

  • I don't have the health risk involved with it,

  • (Laughter) a room that you stand up in.

  • This area, this space in my house is my favorite space.

  • You know, looking out that skylight window,

  • I can see the ever expanding universe.

  • And I don't know what it is

  • about being elevated up above,

  • you know, everything else that's going on around you,

  • but, all of a sudden, something shifts,

  • and your problems start to look like little ants,

  • which is really fortunate.

  • And the rest of the world

  • starts to kind of have a stretch to it,

  • a nice horizon,

  • and everything seems to expand out in a way that gives you

  • enough time and space to kind of contemplate

  • why you're here.

  • Are you doing the work that you can do?

  • Are you being the person that you can be?

  • Are you learning about really important things

  • like humility, gratitude, grace,

  • how are you living that?

  • I've been really surprised,

  • just shocked actually at how much

  • nature has played into my life.

  • You know, I've always been an outdoor person.

  • I love being outside, but I didn't realize

  • that there are 9,000 different ways

  • that it rains in the Pacific Northwest.

  • Having a roof directly over my head,

  • a metal roof,

  • has changed the way that I feel about the rain.

  • And I want to just give you guys an idea

  • what it sounds like.

  • Just rub your hands together.

  • It's a little light rain, little light rain,

  • maybe even sleet.

  • Then it starts getting a little harder,

  • that's more like November,

  • probably December, (Laughter)

  • stretching into January.

  • Thank you, thank you. (Laughter)

  • That's more like January, February, March, April,

  • most of May this year. (Laughter)

  • Isn't that awesome?

  • We're so lucky that we get that much rain.

  • (Applause)

  • Exactly, exactly! (Applause)

  • This a picture of frost.

  • I sleep without the heat on,

  • in part because I'm afraid --

  • I have this little propane heater and I'm afraid

  • that it's going to explode in the middle of the night.

  • So it scares me.

  • So this is frost on the window.

  • I also get treated to wind in the eaves.

  • I know exactly where the sun comes up in the morning,

  • in the summer time,

  • and where it sets in the evening in the winter.

  • And I didn't have that relationship before.

  • And I think that's opened some stuff up for me,

  • in order to deal with

  • and to help me understand my place in the world.

  • The other part of it is I live in community.

  • My house sits in somebody's backyard.

  • They've gifted me the opportunity to live with them.

  • We have three households that share the same garden space.

  • My friends, Kue and Anny, and their kids live in one house.

  • Hugh's elderly and Rita live in the next house,

  • and together our three households make a common compound.

  • And, you know, I've learned a tremendous amount

  • of what it means to live in community,

  • by letting go of my autonomy.

  • Something changes for you,

  • kind of fundamentally shifts for you

  • when you have to ask for water everyday.

  • So that's been a tremendous gift.

  • I have so many other things I want to say,

  • but I need to stop.

  • I'm not done yet, but I do want to stop.

  • So this is my heart,

  • and this is something we all have in common.

  • This is something we all share.

  • Today our hearts will beat eighty two hundred thousand times,

  • pumping three tons of liquid through little tiny dime-sized openings,

  • filling out 30 miles of vasculature,

  • animating all of our human bones,

  • firing a billion brain neurons,

  • making it possible for us to get up in the morning,

  • brush our teeth, and say hello to our lover,

  • and get in the car and go wherever we're going to go.

  • Our hearts are a powerhouse,

  • a miracle.

  • And they do all of this work without much thought from us,

  • without much help from any bit of human technology.

  • And we get this one shot at life.

  • We get this one chance to discover our soul.

  • This is something we all share.

  • And I double dog dare you guys,

  • as you move forward in your day,

  • as you move forward in your life,

  • to access what it means to be human and alive today.

  • Gratitude, humility, grace,

  • there's not enough of that going around.

  • Gratitude, humility, grace.

  • Double dog dare.

  • (Applause) (Cheers)

I am so nervous. (Laughter)

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【TEDx】TEDxConcordiaUPortland - Dee Williams - Dream big, live small

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    Ashley Chen posted on 2014/10/16
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