Go Ahead, Knock Your Moss Off! | Zoe Manickam | TEDxYouth@FranklinSchoolOfInnovation | Summary and Q&A

September 22, 2023
TEDx Talks
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Go Ahead, Knock Your Moss Off! | Zoe Manickam | TEDxYouth@FranklinSchoolOfInnovation

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In this video, the speaker reflects on the concept of disruption and its role in our lives. She explores the idea that disruption can actually be a positive force, allowing us to shed the metaphorical "Moss" that can weigh us down and embracing the opportunities for growth and adventure. Drawing on her own experiences of traveling and facing unexpected challenges, she encourages viewers to find peace, calm, and even joy within disruptions. She also draws analogies from ecology, highlighting how ecosystems recover and evolve after disturbances. Ultimately, she suggests that by reframing our mindset and embracing disruptions, we can navigate them more gracefully and harness their transformative power.

Questions & Answers

Q: Why did the speaker initially enjoy and seek out travel and disruptions?

The speaker enjoyed the disruptions and interruptions that traveling brought to her life. By immersing herself in different environments and cultures, and by not following a routine, she felt a sense of aliveness and freedom. She embraced the unpredictability and the opportunity for growth that disruptions provided.

Q: What is the difference between disruption and disturbance?

Disruption is an interruption in the normal course of something, whereas disturbance refers to the interruption of a state of peace, quiet, or calm. In our culture, these words are often used interchangeably, but there is an important nuance between them. The speaker suggests that while disruptions may occur in our lives, we can still strive to maintain a sense of peace and calm amidst the chaos.

Q: Is it possible to feel good in a disruption?

The speaker believes that it is possible to feel good in a disruption, although she acknowledges that it may not always be easy. She shares a personal story of losing her bag while traveling and feeling anxious and disoriented. However, she noticed a cool, calm, and quiet state arising within her, which guided her through the situation. She suggests that by embracing disruptions with an open heart and a sense of resilience, we can find unexpected blessings and growth.

Q: How does the concept of secondary succession in ecology relate to human life?

Secondary succession in ecology refers to the recovery process of an ecosystem after a disruption, such as a wildfire or a landslide. Similarly, in human life, disruptions can lead to a wide variety of responses and options. We receive feedback from our surroundings and make course corrections along the way. This process may involve setbacks and dead ends, but ultimately, it allows for the unfolding of a new path and a richer palette of experiences.

Q: What can humans learn from the invasion of pioneer species in ecology?

Pioneer species are the first organisms to arrive and start the recovery process after a disruption in an ecosystem. They are resourceful, fast-acting, and tenacious, making them role models for humans facing disruptions. The speaker suggests that when disruptions occur in our lives, we can learn from these pioneer species by being resourceful, resilient, and proactive. They remind us to take those necessary steps forward, even when the landscape seems uncertain and scary.

Q: How do intermediate stages of ecosystem recovery relate to human life?

The intermediate stages of ecosystem recovery involve growth, increased diversity, and conflict among organisms. In human life, these stages can be likened to a period of unfolding events, feedback, and refinement. It is a time when we have a wide range of options and opportunities, but it may also involve setbacks and dead-ends. Despite the challenges, these stages allow us to hone our new path and gain momentum towards a more stable state.

Q: What is the climax community in the analogy of ecosystem recovery?

The climax community represents a relatively stable era in an ecosystem, where population sizes are sustainable and species are well-adapted to their environment. In human life, reaching a climax community-like state implies a sense of equilibrium and adaptation to the "new normal." Although the environment may have changed significantly, this state allows us to find stability and rediscover the core of who we are.

Q: Why are humans often afraid of change and disruption?

The speaker ponders why humans tend to be afraid of change and disruption. She wonders why we struggle to navigate them effectively. While she doesn't have concrete answers, she invites viewers to consider different ways of thinking about disruption. She suggests that by reframing our mindset and embracing disruptions with ease and grace, we can harness their transformative power and face them with a sense of anticipation rather than fear.

Q: How can humans navigate disruptions more effectively?

The speaker suggests that humans can navigate disruptions more effectively by embracing a different mindset. By embracing disruptions with ease and grace, and by finding peace, calm, and even joy amidst the chaos, we can approach disruptions with a sense of anticipation. She encourages viewers to experiment with disruption, reducing disturbance, and holding onto peace, quiet, and calm. Additionally, she recommends seeking out experiences that challenge and shake us, allowing us to grow and reconnect with our true selves.

Q: What are the potential benefits of disruptions in our lives?

The speaker believes that disruptions can bring several benefits to our lives. They offer opportunities for growth, adventure, and personal transformation. Disruptions allow us to shed the "Moss" that can weigh us down and prevent us from fully embracing life's possibilities. By embracing disruptions, we can make space for new experiences, gain resilience, and develop a deeper understanding of ourselves.


Disruption can be a powerful force in our lives, leading to growth and transformation. By reframing our mindset and embracing disruptions with ease and grace, we can navigate them more effectively. Drawing on analogies from ecology, we can learn from the recovery processes of ecosystems and apply this knowledge to our own lives. Embracing disruptions allows us to shed the burdens of routine and predictability, opening up space for new experiences and personal development. Ultimately, disruptions can help us discover our true selves and lead to a richer and more fulfilling life.

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