When you work from home, sometimes time slips away. You might allow one task to run right into the next without taking a break. And without much consideration about what might be going on in the world around you.
I often have to remind myself to stretch, go for a short walk, or eat. It’s hard to read books that aren’t related to my field. When deadlines are pressing, reading about unrelated topics feel like a waste of time, even though I know they really aren’t – even though I know that creativity is often sparked by interdisciplinary study.
But today I needed a break from my usual course of action, so I spent some time on Ted.com. I thought I’d share the TedTalks I listened to in case you, too, are in need of interdisciplinary explorations. I intentionally watched TedTalks that had nothing to do with any of my current projects.
If you need to laugh, ponder, or learn something new, I hope one or all of these talks give you a creative spark.
Sisonke Msimang: “If a story moves you, act on it”
Stories are necessary, but they’re not as magical as they seem, says writer Sisonke Msimang. In this funny and thoughtful talk, Msimang questions our emphasis on storytelling and spotlights the decline of facts. During a critical time when listening has been confused for action, Msimang asks us to switch off our phones, step away from our screens and step out into the real world to create a plan for justice.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “The danger of a single story”
Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
Mandy Len Catron: “A better way to talk about love”
In love, we fall. We’re struck, we’re crushed, we swoon. We burn with passion. Love makes us crazy and makes us sick. Our hearts ache, and then they break. Talking about love in this way fundamentally shapes how we experience it, says writer Mandy Len Catron. In this talk for anyone who’s ever felt crazy in love, Catron highlights a different metaphor for love that may help us find more joy — and less suffering — in it.
Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado: “To solve old problems, study new species”
Nature is wonderfully abundant, diverse and mysterious — but biological research today tends to focus on only seven species, including rats, chickens, fruit flies and us. We’re studying an astonishingly narrow sliver of life, says biologist Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, and hoping it’ll be enough to solve the oldest, most challenging problems in science, like cancer. In this visually captivating talk, Alvarado calls on us to interrogate the unknown and shows us the remarkable discoveries that surface when we do.
David Gallo: “Underwater astonishments”
David Gallo shows jaw-dropping footage of amazing sea creatures, including a color-shifting cuttlefish, a perfectly camouflaged octopus, and a Times Square’s worth of neon light displays from fish who live in the blackest depths of the ocean. This short talk celebrates the pioneering work of ocean explorers like Edith Widder and Roger Hanlon.