What are your stories? What drives you?

Isabel Allende’s Ted Talk ‘Tales of Passion’

The first post in this new series is a reaction to Isabel Allende’s Ted Talk ‘Tales of Passion’ from March 2007 in which she “discusses women, creativity, the definition of feminism — and, of course, passion” (Ted Talks). Please find the video and transcript by clicking on this link: https://www.ted.com/talks/isabel_allende_tells_tales_of_passion

Allende asks us,

“What kind of world do we want? This is a fundamental question that most of us are asking. Does it make sense to participate in the existing world order?”

It does make sense ‘to participate in the existing world order’, withdrawing from it won’t make matters better, but it is of primary importance to reflect on our world, to constantly build one’s opinion on what’s going on in order to be aware and to lead an aware life, and if possible to add one’s part to the effort of improving matters.

  • What is your opinion? What do you like in your world and what would you prefer to see differently?

Allende was born in 1942 and is a Chilean author of numerous novels. One of her most famous novels is “The House of the Spirits”. Her life has been strongly shaped by the political upheavals of the second half of the 20th century in Latin America and she has known her fair share of hardship. She writes novels that tell of strong women and their astonishing lives and engages in charity work and activism.

“I was born in ancient times, at the end of the world, in a patriarchal Catholic and conservative family. No wonder that by age five I was a raging feminist.”

Commenting on whether feminism is dated, she replies,

“Yes, for privileged women like my daughter and all of us here today, but not for most of our sisters in the rest of the world who are still forced into premature marriage, prostitution, forced labor — they have children that they don’t want or they cannot feed. They have no control over their bodies or their lives. They have no education and no freedom. They are raped, beaten up and sometimes killed with impunity.”

She continues to tell several remarkable stories of women who have faced hardship that seem impossible to believe and yet we have to accept that such suffering is borne by people in many parts of our world.

  • When hearing such stories, what do you feel and what are your thoughts? Can you relate? Do you find it too hard to bear? Do you want to help or do you want to distance yourself? Do you feel able to help or impotent and unable to help?

Allende says, “Heart is what drives us and determines our fate.” She believes strongly in passion as a major driving force to a successful life. Speaking about Olympic winners she says, “What matters most — more than training or luck — is the heart. Only a fearless and determined heart will get the gold medal. It is all about passion.”

Aside from when wanting to win a gold medal, may there be other factors than passion that drive people’s lives, what about upholding stability, habit, discipline, other’s opinions and pressures?

  • What drives you? Why do you do what you do? When you get up in the morning do you feel passionate about your work? How do you feel about the day ahead?

Allende’s writing themes are “justice, loyalty, violence, death, political and social issues, freedom” and she believes in the importance of the story teller. Her stories reach millions, it may not be the same for our stories, and still we have a choice of topics to think about, engage with and maybe even bring forward and propose to our friends, family or MPs.

  • What topics interest you? What stories do you like to tell?

I’d like to finish this post with a quote by the fictional character John Keating from ‘Dead Poet’s Society’,

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”


With hopes that this post stirs thoughts and reflection,


Kaleidoscopic Arts


Further reading

Isabel Allende.


Wikipedia: Isabel Allende.


Got First-World Problems? Don’t Feel Guilty. Joseph Burgo, The New York Times.


Ted Talks.


This post was written by Lucia Schweigert.

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