Every year, I have the great pleasure of writing the introduction for the Float Conference program, and every year we share it on our blog so that members of the industry who weren’t able to make the journey out to Portland are able to check it out. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
From all of us at Float Tank Solutions, where our time is measured as the space between two conferences, thank you again for a wonderful year!
– Graham Talley
Salty and salubrious salutations! A very hearty welcome to each and every one of you! And welcome back to a huge portion of you.
It is with great pleasure, every year, that I bribe Ashkahn with enough popcorn that he allows me to write the program introduction, and it is with equal pleasure that I set myself to the task of writing for an audience that doesn’t require lengthy explanations of what the heck float tanks are.
There is a depth of communication and experience that’s more easily achieved when the scaffolding has already been taken care of. It’s one of the magical parts of the Float Conference – gathering here, together, to celebrate our shared passion for the incredible power of being alone.
We all know the healing and the exploration that comes from solitude, and many of us also know the satisfaction that comes from introducing people to the benefits of being by themselves. It’s perhaps trite to say that one person can make a difference, but what the heck, I’m going to say it anyway, because one persons across the world are making differences all the time.
Lots of times these are small differences, and lots of times they only immediately affect the one person who’s making them. I bring these up, not to belittle them, but to celebrate them.
Most great things start as small thoughts in a single person, which turn into small actions, which often don’t go much further than that. Sometimes though, they crash forward and grow like cartoon snowballs down a hill.
When you see expansive projects in the world it’s often, at its root, because one person thought to make them happen, and then worked to create them.
They get initial buy-in from other people, certainly, who help get the ball rolling, and from there these projects often gain more momentum, growing beyond the sole control of the creator, collecting the enthusiasm of a much greater audience as they go. But most things begin with some crazy idea that a single person decided they cared enough about to spend some of their limited time on this planet making happen.
This is an easy fact to forget, or perhaps to never truly internalize, since we so rarely get to see the genesis of movements. By the time we become aware of them, they’re already deep into their development with dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of people behind them.
In writing this, I wanted to reference a quote that went something like, “If you want to change the world, change yourself.” If you are, as I was, curious who said that, and you do a search for it online, as I just did, you’ll find that some version or another of that quote is ascribed to dozens of people, from Lao Tze to the Dalai Lama to Mother Teresa to Michael Jackson to Batman. Which of these are inappropriately cited (I’m looking at you, Batman) is irrelevant, because its meaning speaks so plainly to the truth of our world.
If you’re serious about improving the state of things, I know of no better ways than through blind luck or through some seriously deep work on improving yourself. And luck is, sadly, a fickle mistress.
It’s strange that it’s so easy to avoid any kind of introspection in our culture. It’s strange that it’s so easy to forget how much impact our own emotions, attitudes, and behaviors have. How much the smallest actions we take set in motion much larger ones, often beyond our observation. Instead, we get discouraged because our grand aspirations are in a psychological battle with our daily lives, where we’re reminded all the time how challenging it is just to avoid stuttering over our words or getting salt water in our eyes. It’s a crazy and demanding world out there, and it always has been, but it’s getting crazier with each passing hour.
It is our undertaking, amidst this chaos, to be merchants of sanity. For ourselves and for others. We are in the business of encouraging people to stop.
To breathe for a moment.
To take away the blinking lights and hurtling metal death objects. To remove everything but people’s thoughts and bodies, and then to say, “Who needs ‘em anyway?” and to get rid of those as well.
It never ceases to amaze me that tossing people into pitch black, salty bathtubs can have such a tremendous effect on people. Although floatation itself has no dogma to preach, no principles to extol, and no direct teachings to pass down to our customers, we trust that a reprieve from the daily demands of our world will do a much better job than all of that balderdash anyway.
And so perhaps I will add on my own, floaty addendum to the ageless and oft-cited quote referenced earlier:
“If you want to change the world, change yourself. If you want to change yourself, start by doing nothing.”
It’s the same advice I’ll give you for settling into the Conference. Slow down, open up, turn yourself inside out, and gently shake out your contents. It’s easy enough to put the important things back where they belong after this whole shindig winds down.
For now, enjoy Portland! Enjoy the presentations, the provisions, the people, and even this very program prologue. To paraphrase the comedian Lotus Weinstock: I used to want to change the world – now I just want to end my introduction with a little dignity.
Graham Talley Co-Founder, Float On