As I fly from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, Malaysia, I am in great anticipation of this historic city and the privilege of taking the stage of TEDxWeldQuay tomorrow at the Whiteaway Arcade. Above the clouds, it is easy to forget what is below. From the other side of a cloud, everything below it can look the same.
Just like I came down from the clouds on Tuesday and landed in Kuala Lumpur, I know that in a few short moments I will come down from above these clouds and land in Penang. Just like I was greeted by Kethan’s family in KL, I will be greeted by the extended TEDx family in Penang. I am excited to meet Mee Quin Ooi, who will greet me at the airport, as well as Yee Ling Neoh, the curator for this, the first TEDxWeldQuay.
As I have shared photos with my family back in Texas, my kids first comment was that Kuala Lumpur looked like any big city. In many ways, they are right. Kuala Lumpur is indeed a world city, graced by skyscrapers, a vibrant economy and an active populace. Walking around downtown, I looked up in awe at the Kuala Lumpur twin towers, beautiful works of art in steel, bringing together old and new. It is a skyscraper only matched in beauty by the people of Malaysia. As I prepare to arrive in Penang, I realize I will come to know another view of this country, an UNESCO heritage site, an island to the northwest of KL.
Not only are there two sides to the clouds, but there are two sides to every street. Being back in a country where the cars drive on the left has made me think about this motif. How often do we see things in the world in terms of the side we are on, forgetting that it is indeed possible, and likely, that someone is on the other side? As I will share in my TEDx talk for Kethan tomorrow, he, too, walked on the other side of cancer, never losing his smile, spirit and courage to his leukemia. Kethan has taught me what it means to be on the other side of the street.