Silence After Speaking

In the lull after any speaking event, I get a little down. I tend to not know what to do with myself, since I end up practicing a ridiculous amount before each talk.

Even though it’s two minutes, I always viewed 20×2 Chicago as more of a performance, and so I preferred to rely more on memorization over notes/reading. And the best way for me to get something like that down is to just practice, over and over and over again.

I’d practice a few times each morning in the shower. I’d practice walking to work, with music playing as a kind of distraction – forcing me to focus. I’d even try to run through the thing right when I woke up, before my feet touched the floor… because if I could perform the talk as the first thing I did (while groggy), I knew I could do it when I was nervous, the night of the event.

It’s a weird and obsessive process, but it works for me.

For the topic of my last talk, I focused on my friend Ann, who died many years ago.

At first, I was nervous about the subject matter. I didn’t want to take advantage, somehow, of her death, using it as a topic. Ultimately, I think the piece was a bit less about her – and a bit more about me, about grief and guilt.

I was expecting to get choked up on stage, but I don’t think I did – not really. I was expecting to lose it on stage, but ended up mostly keeping my composure.

The times I practiced though, I got worked up each time. It’s been a few weeks of this, with a lot of sadness getting brought to the surface each time I ran through the talk.

Normally, when I get on stage – it’s a very self-centered thing. I want to do well, I want to perform well, I want the audience to think well of me.

For the last talk, I did want to do well – but I wanted to do well because of Ann. I kept thinking “When is the next time someone will talk about her, in front of a large group again?” and I didn’t want to screw it up.

I’m glad to have given the talk I did, as it was a personal one – and not something I’d ever done before. But in many ways, I am glad to not be practicing the talk anymore. It was a difficult thing to walk through, numerous times per day.

Early Morning Cement Pour, Evening Fun at 20×2 Chicago
Red Shamrocks: Remembering Ann Paeth

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I feel for you, Felix. That’s always a tough line to walk, talking about someone who love who died, especially in any kind of performance or creative environment. You want to express what you feel, describe what you remember, but you don’t want to seem like you’re trying to profit from the loss. And revisiting the memories to try to get them down accurately is hard on the heart besides. I get it.

    I’m glad you still talk about Ann now and then, and remember her. I remember her too.

    Juliet Reply

    • Thanks for these words, Juliet. It does help knowing there are others who also remember her.

      avoision Reply

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