Friday, July 3, 2009

Airport Serendipity

As you probably know, I live in Los Angeles. Among other things, this means that celebrity sightings are a fairly regular part of life. Half the time a trip to the supermarket means seeing someone you think you know, but then you realize he or she was not someone you went to high school with, he or she was actually some bit part actor from a B movie that you caught late one night on cable. (Less often you might nearly get knocked over by a paparazzo trying to get a shot of Heidi Klum in her sweatpants, while she tries to buy some orange juice in peace...true story, but I digress...)

A week ago, the family and I were heading out on our trip to the east coast, and we were stuck in the airport waiting for our plane's air conditioning system to be fixed, when I saw a man who looked familiar, waiting for the same flight.

After scouring my sieve-like memory, I realized that I did not actually know the man, but had seen him online, giving a talk about education. Not just a talk about education, a really entertaining, informative and very funny talk about education. A friend had forwarded me a link to one of the TED talks.

(Do you know the TED talks? They're really great, and you should check them out here. TED is an annual conference that bills itself as "ideas worth spreading". The lectures at the TED conferences are really great, and range in subject far beyond the "Technology, Entertainment, and Design" of their acronym. The keynote speaker at their conference this year was Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat, Pray, Love fame. Other speakers have included Al Gore and Jane Goodall. But I re-digress...)

So after I heard the man speaking with an English accent, I decided that he really was Sir Ken Robinson, the education and creativity expert I'd heard speak about how today's education is killing our kids' creativity. It's a great lecture--but more than that, it's very funny--and you can watch it here.

So I went up and said hello! Okay, except at appropriate venues like the LA Times Festival of Books, I've only once approached a total stranger in to tell him I enjoyed his work. (That was Michael Moore, while we were in line at a movie theater). And granted, I doubt Sir Ken Robinson gets recognized all the time and has to dodge fans to have a restaurant meal in peace--but still, I actually approached the man. And he was really nice! And we chatted about his book. He was charming in person, too. And he gave me his card. Which I will frame. Just kidding!

Once I was in shooting distance of a bookstore, I bought his book, which is called The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. Reviews tell me that not only does the book tell the stories of a wide range of people who found the place where their natural talent met their personal passion--people like Paul McCartney, Vidal Sassoon, Matt Groening and Meg Ryan--it also gives practical advice to the reader for finding one's passion and quieting the naysayers who might keep you from it.

Sounds like something I could really use. I will let you know if I find it educational, entertaining, useful, or all of the above!


litlove said...

OOoo I have one of his books, too! Good on your for approaching him; I expect you made his day. And what fun to be in celebrity land. Very very occasionally we see well-known actors filming in Cambridge (Cate Blanchett and David Tennant spring to mind) but you never get to talk to them.

Hope you have had a wonderful trip, too.

Ti said...

I'm glad that he received your greeting graciously. I always get ticked when celebs (of any kind) snub a well-meaning fan.

My daughter practically got run over once by the 'razzi when Miley Cyrus was coming out of the restaurant next to ours. Miley was very sweet, stopped and said Hi to her even though she was being chased by like a dozen people. I will never forget that.

Gentle Reader said...

Litlove--I wondered if you might have known about Robinson, as I could imagine your worlds overlapping some. I had a lovely trip, but of course I am so thrilled to be back home!

Ti--He was more than gracious, and I was so relieved! Aren't the paparazzi obnoxious? I'm always happy to hear about a celebrity who rises above it all. Good for Miley :)

Anonymous said...

What a cool story! It'll be interesting to read your thoughts on his book.

Gentle Reader said...

Jill--Sounds good, possibly inspirational--I'll let you know!