TEDWeekends wonders: Do you have an inner hero?

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BLACK works a yo-yo at TED2013. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Yo-yo champion BLACK does, in fact, wear a special costume — all black, with a red sash. But he has not always been a superhero. In his very sweet talk from TED2013, BLACK: My journey to yo-yo mastery BLACK: My journey to yo-yo mastery BLACK reveals that as a young teenager he struggled with feelings of worthlessness — and that it was dedicating himself to the yo-yo that pulled him through it. Again as an adult, he gave up his yo-yo dreams, thinking he needed a more conventional job.

Today’s TED Weekends on the Huffington Post brings a variety of reactions to this unique talk, in which yo-yos twirl with the grace, speed and power of flipping gymnasts. Essentially, it asks: What does it take to unlock an inner hero?

Black: From zero to yo-yo hero

When I was a boy, I was at the bottom of the school hierarchy. I was a bullied child.

I loved TV programs like Power Rangers. In that kind of program, the hero rescues someone in distress. But in the real society around me, there was no organization of evil. In my school, boys who were good at sports were treated like the heroes. But I was not good at any sports. I hated all sports. I couldn’t become a hero.

One day, I bought a yo-yo.

When I first tried, I wasn’t too dexterous — the simplest yo-yo trick was impossible. But after one week of practicing, my throws became a bit better. Read the essay »

Candace Walsh: The 99-cent gift that saved my life

My father brought home treasures left behind on the Long Island Rail Road: a folded, read New York Post, umbrellas, even a pair of binoculars unclaimed at the lost and found. He brought home the smells of mingled passengers and their commute: cologne, cigarettes, the fug of hot underground tunnel exhaust, hot dogs with mustard and onions, hot coffee trucks.

But what he pulled out of his pocket one night in autumn 1981 was new in its packaging. A two-tone, bee-yellow and candy-pink butterfly-emblazoned yo-yo. Its weight in my palm was surprising; its presence was as well. My father was not one for non-holiday season gifts. Read the essay »

Dr. Gail Gross: Only the outcast can lead

Watching BLACK’s TED Talk, one clearly sees not only a young man who is talented, but a man who has undeniably discovered his authentic self. Psychologist Carl Jung described this as individuation, the process by which the personal and collective unconscious are brought into consciousness to reveal one’s whole personality. In short: it is the process of finding your true self.

BLACK’s journey is one of inspiration and motivation to those who may not yet be living their most authentic life. BLACK himself admits he was unhappy until he discovered a passion for yo-yoing at the tender age of 14. Yet even after winning his first World Championship at age 18 in 2001, he succumbed to societal pressures and set his passion aside to go into engineering, which was a more “normal,” revered, and universally understood upstanding profession in the eyes of the outside world compared to professional yo-yo artist. Read the essay »