21 August 2013

1 the talking point



i'm giving a talk tonight. which kind of isn't a big deal because it's a paper that kind of has no point and yet which i deeply love, and so i feel pretty good about it. and also i've done this before. BUT, in further alsos, it's the first time i've given a talk since i delivered an earlier version of the same paper in paris over a year ago, so it's been awhile and i fear i'm better at doing this in my head than i am in real life.

this is the opposite of how after flying that plane, as time passed and i settled deeper into the memory, it gradually became more and more awful. with speaking, the memory has a roseifying effect. at this point, in my mind, i have become not just an adept speaker but one of martin luther king-esque eloquence. which ain't even slightly true.

i can write well and i can read well and that is all. things i cannot do: talking off the cuff.

however, as if compensating for my hubris, this impending talk has brought to the surface memories of the first talk i ever gave, way back in april 2011 at the popular culture conference in san antonio.

my panel was the last of the conference so there were literally the three panelists and three other people in the room. and, yet, the prospect of speaking before these FIVE OTHER PEOPLE was such a panic inducing reality that, first, i had to leave and throw up. as the person before me spoke, my hands trembled. i don't know that i've ever been colder in my life than i was in that room. i seemed to have been in some version of shock, completely panicked that i was going to have to get up in front of these FIVE OTHER PEOPLE and read a paper, something i had applied and paid a significant chunk of money for the privilege to do. 

but, as working at applebee's taught me, time goes on and the ordeal will pass. somehow i spoke, though i don't remember that part at all. 

all i remember is the relief of being out in the sunshine after, the phone call to k.clen to say i had survived, and the enormous chunk of cake a bakery randomly gave me for free because their till was already closed when i came busting through the door in search of post-triumph sugar.

the thing is that feeling actually hasn't gone away. i no longer throw up or go into shock, but in continuing to pitch myself into doing things i don't necessarily find it easy to do, that feeling of discomfort has not subsided. it has remained. which is partly why i find it so important to continue speaking, to continue doing these things. because we can't always do the things that keep us comfortable. sometimes we absolutely must not. because sometimes it is precisely the things that make us uneasy that are the most liberating, bring the most pleasure, make us who we are meant to become. 

i've written before about how these things build. about how if you do one thing you want to do and yet see as scary, it opens a door to another, and then another and then maybe even more.

a brief reminder, yet again...

here's how you fly on a trapeze:

you climb a freakishly skinny ladder.
you get buckled into a harness.
you stand at the edge of a platform.
you grip a bar with your two hands.
you bend your two knees.
you take one hop into nothingness.
you swing through the air.
you put your knees back over the bar.
you let go.