TEDxLilongwe and bricks

Three weeks ago Bails and I are driving down the road and as we turn the corner into our street, there is a large brick sitting in the middle of the road.  This same brick has been sitting obtrusively in the middle of the road all week, and all week we, and clearly everyone else in our street, has been driving around this brick.  So on this day, three weeks ago, once again we maneuver around the brick, and Bails says to me

“Man, that brick is annoying.” To which I reply,

“Yer, I know. I wonder how long it will take for someone to move the annoying brick.”

At which point my wise owl of a husband looks me in the eye and says,

“Babe. You need to be the change you want to see in the world”


  ” Epiphany moment”

I look back at him in sheer wonder, and say,

“You mean… ‘I’ should get out the car and move the brick????”

He nods slowly, allowing time for my mummy brain to catch on…

“Yer babe. We need to move the brick”

You know, it’s the simple things in life that always seem to have the most profound effect on me.

I thought about this incident afterwards. I thought about bricks.

So then two weeks ago I get a phone call and it goes something like this…

“Hi. I’m from the organizing team of TEDxLilongwe and we were wondering if you would be interested in MC-ing the first ever TEDxLilongwe conference next Saturday…?”

My reply went something like this.

“Eeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrr…Ooooooh  urr gosh, Mmmmmm right, um, just let me check my diary….right yes, urrrr just the usual childcare, right Ummm, gosh, Mmmm…”

Remarkably, he didn’t hang up.

We organized to meet later that day, with all of the tech team, and I did a short audition, which everyone seemed to like, and I actually thought went quite well as well, but mostly just because I managed not to vomit.

I then spent a good 10 minutes giving the organisers as many reasons as I could, as to why I probably, actually, wasn’t the right person for the job at all.  I suggested the organizer did it himself, I suggested job sharing it, I suggested perhaps a Malawian would be a better choice, A man would be a better choice, (which goes completely against everything I believe in, in terms of gender equality) I told them I hadn’t been up in front of a live audience for 8 years, and that I actually, genuinely, know nothing about anything, I even went for the ‘guaranteed to scare ‘em off line’ “ But I’m just a mummy of three kids.”

I was in complete, utter, ‘foot fully engaged with the throttle,’ panic mode.

They just kept nodding, and saying things like “We are confident you are the right person for the job”.

Why? Why would you think that?????

They suggested I read through some of the manuscripts for the day and asked me to get back to them in 24 hours.

I went home and did feotal on my bed for 24 hours .

But at some point, I did start to look through those manuscripts, and the very first one I opened was titled;

‘Expanding your comfort zone’.

Ah. Kay.  Maybe I should read that…

I started reading more manuscripts, reading the stories and idea’s that all these brave men and women were going to bring before a live audience, all of them taking huge risks, to share their stories from the platform.  And here’s what I saw.

I saw an army of brick movers.

Activists who are fighting for gender equality and empowerment for women, Entrepreneurs who are fighting for their countries economic future, Climate justice advocates who are crying out for us to wake up and take responsibility, Educationalists who are calling for focused renewed investment in the next generation, Poets and storytellers bringing their raw and vulnerable hearts and laying themselves bare. And this is just to mention a few.

Brick. Moving. Warriors.

I knew, that I needed to get my butt up on that stage and give these brave and inspiring men and women the smacking introductions they deserved

I wanted to be amongst these people.  I wanted their stories to impact my attitudes and my choices, because I spend a heck of a lot of my life driving around bricks, and complaining about the fact that no one is moving the wretched brick.

Bricks come in so many different shapes and sizes.  We get frustrated with them, we moan about them, we find them inconvenient and usually we want someone else to deal with them.

But Mahatma Gandhi said, “You need to be the change you want to see.”

And Bails said it too.

Yesterday I posted this on my Facebook page;

“ TEDxLilongwe was incredible. Such a privilege to be up on stage with so many brilliant minds and hearts. I wish the world were full of people like that. People who are trying to be ‘the change they want to see.’  How different the world would look.”

Imagine how different the world would look.

The talks will be up on-line in a few weeks and I will post links to them then, but for today, I want to encourage us all to look at the various bricks in our lives, and to consider the cumulative impact we can have on our world if we are just prepared to get out the car… and move the brick.

Maybe your brick is to teach your kids to turn off the lights and recycle.

Maybe your brick is to lobby for ‘Lads mag’s’ to leave the shelves of UK supermarkets.

Maybe your brick is human trafficking, because you have a son or a daughter too.

Maybe your brick is that old lady down the street who has no family and frankly, seems really lonely.

Maybe your brick is Truth, no matter what the cost…

We can’t fight all the battles people. But we can each choose one, and allow our commitment to that one brick, to be the stuff that defines who we are, and how we respond to our world.

This world needs me, and you, to be brick pick-er up-ers.

E. x


About Emily M. Bailey

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This entry was posted in Malawi, The grey stuff. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to TEDxLilongwe and bricks

  1. Robyn Blood says:

    How perfect you were for the job… your heart is in every word you have posted. xx

  2. Kirsten says:

    Great post yet again Emily! I’m so happy I got to hear all about it live today… 🙂 I moved my biggest bricks last week and now have perfect internet (did you notice how great the connection was) and a great oven that actually works ;).

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