A couple days ago, Joe and I drove down to Niagara Falls, where I was to present on Wednesday at one of the biggest conference in recent years. We got there in the early afternoon. There was a Starbucks in the lobby so we sat down and had a cuppa and watched people arrive. It was lovely to see 'the old gang' again. Many of the other speakers and I were starting out at around the same time, it was nice to see everyone still at it, everyone still with passion for the work, everyone with purpose. It was nice to the a fire lit in the belly can burn for a lifetime.
The conference had organized itself wherein all the volunteers wore yellow shirts. Over 500 people attending and during the plenary session in the morning we were all instructed to see any of the people in yellow if we were lost or had questions. I listened to most of the morning session and then pulled out and went to our book table. I was speaking next, I was giving a brand new lecture, I wanted to fret and worry - the major part of preparation for public presentation.
During the break, on of the volunteers stood near my chair but facing the openning doors of the conference hall. He began a little whisper, a little chat with himself, 'I can do it. I know what questions they might aks. I know the answers to the questions.' Surely, as he was going through his mantra a woman came and asked him to help her find the room she was to attend. He showed her the code for the room and then showed her how to read the code on the room map. She was delighted. 'Most helpers would have just told me the room, you told me how it works, Thanks.'
He was behind me, yet his smile lit up my lecture notes as I was reading them. He moved away but I saw him helping others along the way.
A few seconds later I'm on the podium. Nervous as heck. I've never done a talk with this tone, in this style, ever before. Barb, my host put her hand on my shoulder and said, 'Let's start.'
I said, 'Give me a moment.'
I closed my eyes and said. You can do this. You know what you want to say. You will be ok.' Then I looked up at the guy with the disability who had been helping and at that moment he stepped into the room to listen. 'This one's for you, bud.'
And as it turned out, I did know what I was doing.