It was absolutely our pleasure to, once again, host the Float Conference here in Portland. We couldn’t help but be slightly nostalgic remembering all the Conferences we’ve held, all the way back to 2012. Below is the complete introduction for this year’s program intro. While this may be our last year hosting, we look forward to what the rest of the industry has in store for us in the future.
Gratitude seems like a worthwhile topic for my 7th, and very likely last, Float Conference program introduction. This is not simply because it loosely rhymes with both “barbequed” and “rabbit food,” as some of you may be thinking. Nor is it because gratitude is comprised of 9 letters – nine being both a symbol of wisdom and the largest single digit integer with a prime square root – as the numerologically inclined of you have likely already noticed.
No, I want to talk about gratitude for the simple and selfish reason that I feel grateful. It’s what’s on my mind, and it seemed like these are precisely the sort of thoughts better shared than hoarded.
The years of running the Float Conference have been transformative: individually, organizationally, and (if you share in the beliefs of the late, great Dr. John C. Lilly ) cross-dimensionally. It has been both fulfilling and challenging, and I am grateful for the smile lines and grey hairs that I’ve earned in the process.
I am grateful for those thoughtful Conference conversations which have led to occasional correspondences, which have in turn yielded more than one wonderful friendship. I am grateful for the exchange of zany ideas which have sometimes led to collaborations and sometimes fizzled right there on the spot, but which have been always, always enjoyed.
I am grateful for having experienced that incomparably delightful, and equally frustrating, feeling of being utterly exhausted from running at 100% for what feels like at least a 25 hour day, but also being woefully incapable of falling asleep due to an overwhelming excitement for what comes next.
I am grateful for the many times during past Float Conferences that I have been moved to tears, both through heartfelt stories and through jubilant, untetherable laughter. I am grateful for good company over good food and good drinks. For sharing full bellies, full brains, and full hearts with all of you floaty humans who I am lucky enough to also share an industry with.
I am grateful as well for the many challenges we’ve faced in hosting the Float Conference for the better part of a decade. We had little idea what we were doing, and no idea what we were in for, when we started this event back in 2012. I am grateful for the many fires, both real and metaphorical, that we’ve successively and successfully put out.
It’s an old sentiment, but a true one, that the challenges we face, and how we rise to meet them, are what make us who we are. And so I am grateful for every last bit of hard work that it has taken to put on the Float Conference.
Work is an activity that many people imagine they would be grateful to do away with in their lives, but I don’t think that’s true. I think that, in the unlikely case they are presented with an opportunity for prolonged and absolute leisure, the bulk of human beings will, within a year, be at the minimum exceptionally antsy and, much more likely, completely unfulfilled and ready to
embark on some adventure or project with actual significance attached to it.
What people intend to say, when what they actually say is that they are tired of work, is in my opinion one of two things: that they have momentarily over-extended themselves and are suffering from burn-out, or that they’re tired of tasks that don’t have much meaning attached to them. They are tired, not of work, but of toil, as students in school are tired of completing assignments that have no impact on the broader world. They are tired of the rat race, of the grind, of chasing the buck.
Fortunately, although there are many obstacles to overcome in the business of floatation (not the smallest of which is the burn-out I mentioned a moment ago), we can all be grateful that trying to find meaning in our work is not one of them. Although a space to silently contemplate and explore is certainly a convenience, we don’t run anything as mundane as convenience stores. And although it’s not too far a stretch to say that we deal in the wares of customers’ own psychologies and physiologies, I’m grateful that we are far from an industry of middling, meddling, middlemen.
Above perhaps all else, I am grateful for the fact that all of the effort, all of the various forms of salt water that we pour into our endeavors, are furthering this subtle industry. They support our strange and salty, but significant undertaking – to ship some sanity back to our sensorily saturated world. We are facilitators of simplicity. We are keepers of the kind of kindness that comes from calmness. From stillness and solitude.
As a result, we’re also just a really enjoyable group of people to hang out with. The kind of people I would gladly share pints of beer and pots of tea with. The kind of people I would love to learn from and love to learn with. The kind of people I would be happy to do absolutely nothing at all with.
Which is fortunate, for that’s exactly what’s to be found in the festivities of the final Float On hosted Float Conference.
Thank you all, in advance, for the lovely memories yet to come and for the good times that I’m certainly already having, even as you read this very program introduction.
I’m so glad that you were able to make the journey out, to join together in sharing a last hurrah, Float On style, here in Portland.
Graham Talley Co-Founder, Float On