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  • my name's Jeff Thatcher has, she said, And my first job out of college, Was it a newspaper?

  • And when you work for a newspaper more than anything else, you want a by line, you want your name to appear under a headline, preferably a big giant headline on the front page.

  • And today I Want to talk to you how I learned the hard way that there are no bylines on obituaries.

  • And it all started with my first big job interview in 2004.

  • I had left the newspaper business, and I was interviewing in Washington D.

  • C.

  • For a big position, creative position at this New York advertising slash marketing agency.

  • And I was sitting at the table for the interview, and this bigwig exec leaned forward and put us both hands on the table and he said, hoping to stop me.

  • What is the most memorable thing you've ever written?

  • And to be honest with you, my response was immediate, and it surprised both him and both me.

  • Uh, hey, thought I was gonna say, Oh, was the collects Serial City USA that I worked on or he thought I might say it's Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame that I worked on or the CNN studio tour that I worked on.

  • But no, it was none of those things.

  • I leaned forward and I said, My brother's obituary just a few years before my brother had died.

  • And there's one thing you need to know about my brother is he is the oldest off 11 Children.

  • You can see a picture of our family right there from 1989.

  • It was the last time we were all together.

  • And, uh, my nephew posted this picture on Reddit last year and he said, You could see the top.

  • He said, My mother's racially mixed family 1989.

  • And he posted this picture.

  • And of course, if you're gonna be oldest of ah, multi racial family with adopted and biological kids, you're gonna be a special son.

  • And my brother was the golden child.

  • Now the one thing isn't about this picture is you know, when you post something on Reddit, people like to comment on pictures, and some of the comments that we got were kind of interesting.

  • Somebody said this could be the front page of a website for community college and the next person comment and said, It looks like camp counselors from a Friday, the 13th movie.

  • And then it gets better from there.

  • Are they looking to add someone in a wheelchair?

  • Because I have a few friends?

  • I could ask for them next.

  • It was, If this isn't a 90 sitcom, I don't know what is followed by looks like three generations of the Power Rangers cast, my mother insisted on all the colors, more like the united colors of Benetton poster and finally, or the main characters in a foreign language textbook from the 19 nineties.

  • But this is my brother Stuart, and Stewart had a very successful and frustrating career in the military.

  • He wanted to fly helicopters and he ended up shooting artillery shells and howitzers Don't fly.

  • And then he went and had a very frustrating but successful business career, where he made a ton of money selling billboards of all things.

  • And when he retired from at the ripe old age of 39 he decided to fulfill his one passion in life, and that was his passion for flying.

  • And so he learned how to fly.

  • He bought airplanes.

  • He had an aerobatic airplane learned flight jets, and eventually he decided to fly gyro planes, which are these kind of helicopter slash airplane mix.

  • Have you ever seen the Mad Max movies?

  • It's a little kind of like Buzz Fly helicopters that buzz around.

  • And he had this great idea, uh, that it would be fun to load up his gyro plane with candy and fly from the organ Hinckley International National Airport in Ogden, Utah, to a church three miles away where they were having a Children's party and buzz the Children and drop candy from the sky.

  • I mean, what could be better, Right?

  • You're playing at a Children's party out in the grass, and this little helicopter comes in and drops candy to you.

  • When my brother took off and there was a storm on the horizon and a gust of wind came up and 400 feet over the runway, he crashed and he died on very tragic story.

  • The only thing that gives us any degree of solace that if you believe in the afterlife and you go to the gates of judgment, if you say I was going to drop candy to Children, I think you're gonna be okay.

  • If so, there's no worries there.

  • But the first thing that happened is my mother calls me and I volunteered to write the obituary because I'm you know, I'm a writer.

  • That's what I do is a profession.

  • And so I would love to do the writing.

  • So the first thing I d'oh So I sit down the computer again, going back to that question.

  • What's the most memorable thing you've ever written?

  • Well, it just just flew out of me as I typed my brother's obituary and the first thing I started with with these Elton Elton John lyrics.

  • I miss the Earth so much I miss my wife is lonely out in space on such a timeless flight.

  • It seemed to me as the writer of this obituary, that was the perfect way to open my brother's obituary.

  • He was a pilot.

  • He loved flying.

  • He loved touching the sky.

  • And this song really captures the pain and the remorse of losing your loved ones because of that love itself.

  • Next, I went for something in the opening that most people avoid obituaries.

  • I hate reading obituaries.

  • When you don't know how they died.

  • They just say so and so died.

  • And then you have to google it and try to find out we'll have the die was a cancer.

  • Was it an accident?

  • What actually happened?

  • Was it a long time illness?

  • Please tell me, how did they die?

  • And so I said, Okay, I'm gonna just tell you pretty pretty clearly in here that he was He was stew.

  • You was an experienced aerobatic pilot and flight instructor and the gyro playing a small help.

  • The hybrid crashed while trying traveling to deliver candy to a church primary party.

  • So mission accomplished.

  • Great.

  • I'm gonna tell people exactly how he died.

  • Well, then, of course you have Thio.

  • Give some support is about his life.

  • And I was trying to avoid cliches more than anything else here.

  • But a former officer in the United States Army and successful entrepreneur hey, spent the last four years of his career flying writing a book and being a great husband to live his wife of 20 years and a great dad to his 15 year old daughter, Sydney, and eight year old son Tyson.

  • He was every bit the playful kid that Tyson is in Sydney's music on the violin would melt his heart.

  • He often commented that the last thing he did before taking off was to look at a family picture.

  • In the last few months, he was able to take a long anticipated A cation with just his wife and family trip to novel Illinois While he dies.

  • Firm in the faith with all the promises that entails words cannot applaud aptly describe our loss very, very true.

  • And of course, you have to mention, you know, the other family involved here, and I specifically didn't want to mention all 11 Children because that would really break up the emotional flow of the obituary.

  • So I said, You know, he's the lowest 11 Children and was everyone's favorite.

  • Uncle is survived by his mother and father by his father in law and mother in law, and his youth was full of all the usual Warner's.

  • There's an Eagle Scout, he went on mission for his church, and, uh, while he did have all those honors.

  • His greatest gift was a leader.

  • He was the quintessential big brother.

  • He really waas.

  • He took upon that mantle with pride and compassion, of being the oldest in the family.

  • He was truly the golden child.

  • And then, of course, in the obituary, you have to give the details when the future is gonna be held.

  • And we wanted to express condolences because there was one of the dads from the church party with him in the drop in at the time who also perished and died.

  • And so we expressed our condolences to that family as well.

  • So I quickly, just with tears just raining down my face and at work, typed up this obituary and I thought I was gonna take me a long time to write it did.

  • It took me like, 20 minutes, and it just came out.

  • I typed it.

  • I sent it off to Utah.

  • Then I went and I grabbed my wife's and my three kids and we hop on airplane and we flew out to my parents home.

  • And this is my parent's home, thanks to Google Street View in Farmington, Utah.

  • And so I pull in.

  • The parking lot is scramble the driveways full of cars and I pull in.

  • And before I can even make it to the sidewalk, My now oldest brother, Aaron, the second child in our family.

  • He meets me on the sidewalk with the newspaper in hand, the newspaper that published obituary and he said, Jeff, we've got a problem.

  • I need to talk to you I said, Okay, and he thrusts the obituary into my hands.

  • I grabbed the obituary, and the first thing I noticed, as I'm reading obituary is they went ahead and cut the lyrics from Rocket Man was gone.

  • I said to myself, I'm like, Well, I said, Well, Aaron was my brother.

  • Aaron is well, Aaron, I can understand why they would, you know, cut the lyrics to Rocket Man at the obituary.

  • They probably are conservative and thought it was inappropriate to have Elton John in the obituary.

  • But, you know, it's kind of sad, little frustrated that they they cut it, but I could live with that.

  • It's okay.

  • And then the next thing I know, I read on, they added all these stupid funeral cliches that you see all the time in obituaries, you know, die doing what he loved and left his wife with no regrets.

  • No, he had regrets.

  • He died.

  • That was his regret.

  • I know he was regretting that and Then it said he would call home by a loving father in heaven.

  • And listen, I believe in a loving father in heaven.

  • But no, he was called home because he made a mistake.

  • He decided to fly when he shouldn't have.

  • And the last thing he was thinking before he crashed was not Oh, goody, it was Oh, crap.

  • I'm gonna die.

  • And so I was like, I specifically didn't want to put those things in the in the obituary.

  • Why did they have to do that?

  • And of course, my safe.

  • They I'm blaming the guy in the suit at the funeral home who makes this his business and thinks this is how it has to be all the time.

  • And then finally, by the way, my brother, this whole time, my brother is going No, no, no, that's not it.

  • I tell him about the you know, the lyrics.

  • And he's like, No, no, that's not it.

  • So I tell him about this cliches and complain about this.

  • No, that's not it.

  • Keep reading.

  • Okay.

  • And then I see that he is survived by his brothers and sisters.

  • Aaron, Dina, Joel, Alison, Rachel, Son Yon Kem Deborah Lynette Eric, one of the family.

  • And I said, Yeah, I see how they put everybody in here is I said, You know, I specifically decided not to put all of us in here because I really thought it broke up the emotional flow of the obituary that was riding here.

  • And he goes, No, that's not It was like getting really mad at me.

  • No, no, no, that's not it.

  • Look, I said, what do you mean he goes?

  • Look, I said, What do you mean?

  • They ruined it with my They ruined my obituary.

  • With this editing, he goes, Look at it again.

  • You see anything wrong with that list?

  • I'm not in it.

  • They left me out of the old obituary that I wrote.

  • And now my brother thought I was gonna be furious, and I just laughed.

  • And he's like, Why are you laughing?

  • I'm like, I'm laughing because writers never get credit for anything we don't.

  • I mean, you guys know who wrote It's a wonderful life, right?

  • Frank Capra?

  • Like one of the best.

  • Jimmy Stewart.

  • One of the best movies of all time.

  • Do you know who wrote it?

  • Probably nobody knows you wrote it right because fighters don't get any credit.

  • Robert Risk and by the way, Robert Riskin wrote, wrote the play Right now, I don't know if it's a true story or not.

  • It's apocryphal.

  • But somebody says that when Frank Capra, the director, was being kind of a jerk, Robert Risk Risk and threw a white piece of paper Adam and said, Put the Capra touch on this it was blank.

  • So, you know, And if you look at like, magazines write fast company, you know they have design issues, and the Johnny Ivy from Apple and Wired magazine has the design issue.

  • I trust you.

  • Wired magazine has never had an issue called the Writers featuring famous business writers.

  • There just aren't any famous business writers, because guess what?

  • If you're gonna write for credit, you're gonna be very disappointed in this life.

  • So the deeper question is this.

  • And this is what I want to talk to you about today.

  • And then we talk about prisons.

  • We talk about ideas.

  • What is the big idea that this story of this why did I laugh at the end of the actuary?

  • It's why do we actually right?

  • Did I write that obituary to get credit?

  • Did I write that obituary to actually have it published in the newspaper?

  • Not really.

  • I wrote that obituary because I wanted to think.

  • And I wanted to feel I wanted to work through my own grief by writing.

  • We joke sometimes about right email, not send it.

  • But that actually is what you should do.

  • Yes, do write the email and then don't send it because writing that email is gonna help you think.

  • And it's gonna help you feel sometimes you should send it though, right?

  • I could see this woman back there and you've got an email.

  • I know that you're thinking about sending.

  • I think maybe you should send it right.

  • We write to help figure things out.

  • Now this Ted X is coming to you from William Mason High School in Mason, Ohio, just outside of Cincinnati.

  • And based on what I hear in the news, there's some obsession about grades here.

  • Amazing high school, right and valedictorians right there.

  • Students here who care about right for grades I just wanted a right as a is not good enough.

  • I have to have an A plus.

  • And now my kids went to Mason.

  • I know about that.

  • My brother had, like my son.

  • I'm sorry.

  • My son Joel, like a 4.2 at Mason.

  • It he's like, wasn't even in the top 10%.

  • Not even close.

  • So but guess what?

  • Students do not write for grades.

  • We have an English teacher in the room tonight.

  • Now the smart thing for me to do would tell you to write for her that she is your audience.

  • But you know what?

  • Forget your teacher.

  • Do not right for her, right for you, because you need to learn how to think.

  • And you need to learn how to feel.

  • And the most important audience in the world is you.

  • It doesn't matter if you ever have a byline.

  • It doesn't matter if you get an A on the paper.

  • What matters is how you think and how you feel while you write.

  • Because writing makes you think don't do a power point.

  • Did you do a power point?

  • It's like reading every fifth line of a S.

  • A.

  • Actually sit down and whether it's with a pencil or a pen or at your computer, or if you're really weird a typewriter, right?

  • You know what a typewriter is?

  • Okay, good.

  • But sit down and actually right.

  • Because if you can write and if you can write for yourself, then you will be a better thinker.

  • And you will better be a better feeling feeler.

  • And you will contribute so much more to yourself and to the world as a whole.

  • Thank you very much.

my name's Jeff Thatcher has, she said, And my first job out of college, Was it a newspaper?

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訃告上沒有旁白|傑夫-撒切爾|TEDxMason高中 (There Are No Bylines on Obituaries | Geoff Thatcher | TEDxMasonHighSchool)

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    林宜悉 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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