Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stage Fright

A few months ago, I was asked to speak at a large church in our city. Just the thought of doing it made me so nervous that I asked the nice lady who called if I could have a little time to think about it, and she graciously granted my appeal. For the next few days, I discussed the possibility with my family and friends. Every one of them said I should do it... except one. My son, who is very plain spoken, simply said, "If you're not comfortable speaking, then don't do it. Just say no!"

Part of me said "Do it.. it would be good experience..." but the part that was scared to death said, "You can't do it. You'd just embarrass yourself."

I'll have to admit, it was an attractive offer. After all, as a writer, I'd certainly like to add to my resume for future use, and I'd been told that one speaking engagement would almost certainly lead to others.

It was one of those things that, down deep, you really want to do, but fear overcomes the desire. Yet one thing kept eating at me. I always tell my children and grandchildren that there is no such word as "can't" in this family's vocabulary. So I was faced with a big decision: to either make an acceptable excuse for not doing it, or grit my teeth and practice what I preach. As I pondered what topic I might be able to speak about, it came to me. Recalling one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, I wondered if I might use it to my advantage.

Many years ago, when I was in a piano recital - in this very church - my name was the last one listed on the program, signifying that it was my graduation recital. My parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends of the family were present. I had been in many recitals before and had never made a noticeable mistake, but this time was different. When I was three-quarters of the way through the piece that I had practiced for more than two months, my mind went blank and my hands would not do what they were supposed to! Everyone told me later it was only seconds, but it seemed to me that the silence lasted for an eternity! Looking off-stage where my teacher was standing, I saw him smiling sweetly and motioning for me to leave the stage. My stubborn streak kicked in and I vehemently shook my head NO. My hands went back to the keyboard, found the right notes and finished the piece with vigor! I got a standing ovation and my teacher appeared with a bouquet of red roses and a kiss on the cheek. That was a great lesson in persistence!

I had just about made up my mind to accept the speaking engagement, but just to be safe, I was praying that the lady would forget my telephone number; I mean I was praying hard!  Don't ever think that prayers aren't answered, because they are... not always in the way we want them to be, but always for the best.
When the lady finally called, she said that, due to some problem with church personnel, they'd like to reschedule me for a month later. I quickly agreed.

I haven't heard from her since!

I wonder... Did they decide they didn't want me to speak after all, or did she actually forget my number?


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