Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Anticipation is generally a good thing. It means you're looking forward to something joyful. But if you're an anxious person (that would be me) it can be just the opposite--it's the fear that grips you before an event of any significance. Last Monday, as you know, I spoke at Baylor University for their Celebration of Texas Literature, Music and Film. I did really well at not worrying about it--had a talk written and pretty much down in my mind that I thought was solid and good. No need to worry I told myself. But Sunday morning, it hit--maybe it was the dark black thunderclouds and heavy rain or the fact that the weather persuaded me to skip church--but anticipation, or dread, set in. I gave the speech to myself one more time (I used to have a cleaning lady who would say to the kids, "Your mother's in there talking to her papers.") but to me, my voice sounded quavery, not strong and sure, and I skipped or mispronounced a few things. By Monday morning, I was asking that eternal question, "Why did I ever agree to do this?" It's so easy to agree six months in advance!
Jamie wrote me "Butterflies keep you on your toes," and Christian cheerfully said, "It's the anticipation. It always happens before a presentation, but it makes you better." I wasn't convinced.
Of course, it all worked out. When I got to Baylor, I met wonderfully friendly people and soon found myself telling stories of Texas history and authors to our lunch group. Then we toured the libraries, which I really found interesting. And the setting for my talk was comfortable--a circular tiered classroom with a desk in the pit: I could sit.
When I actually delivered the talk, I felt comfortable, elaborated spontaneously on a couple of points, made a point of not reading but talking to the audience, swiveling my head from one side of the room to the other. They said it went well; in fact, they were highly complimentary, had lots of questions, thanked me for coming, and bought eleven books.
I had the same anticipatory dread about my recent foot surgery, almost going to the podiatry office in a daze. It turned out to be so easy and so painless.
Wonder if I'll ever learn or conquer this?

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