Sunday, September 20, 2009

CC 10 - POE + ME

As a member of TOASTMASTER’S INTERNATIONAL, I write and deliver speeches thoughout the year. This is my 10 and final speech of my first manual. This speech is written to fit a HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION in which the audience is composed of mature adults of middle years in career crisis who are seeking to add deeper meaning to and derive greater joy from their lives.


This evening we will discard our assumptions, we will challenge our premises and we will examine our souls. We as a group, fashionably nicknamed zoomers, have indeed zoomed through life. Many of us although well-intentioned have zoomed through too quickly and too earnestly. You are here tonight to address the dismay, distress, disillusionment and despair that you feel about a life you’ve come to realize just doesn’t add up.
And we so need our lives to add up don’t we? We want to feel a resonance and satisfaction with what life returns to us from the boundless personal energies we expend. If we haven’t done so already, tonight we will dig deep and tap into that unique, elemental, defining point within ourselves from which we will begin again. As we proceed, keep in your minds a little phrase from an old song called “Closing Time”, - “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Bear in mind also that complex problems cannot be solved but any complex problem can be rendered simple – think “E=MC2.”

I have emerged from my own complex mire by following two simple caveats that I ask this evening, for you to adopt as your own.

My first caveat is - Only YOU can affect a change. You must find your own answers within and in order to do this you need to create an atmosphere conducive to self-dialogue. You need to sloooooooooow down, be quiet - listen to yourself. Take yourself out for a test drive and run yourself through your paces - see exactly what your rigging can handle. By this I don’t mean sign up for the iron man, I mean build on your natural abilities as they have emerged in whatever otherwise mismatched profession or occupation you are now seeking to change. Have you excelled at planning your office parties but flop consistently at reconciling the month-end statement? Then think of yourself as a successful event planner NOT as an accounting failure and NEVER look at yourself through someone else’s eyes. Stand on your own and define your own world. You need to revel boldly in your vibrant, colourful aloneness rather than fade away to beige with the rest of the crowd.
Boldly declare yourself like Edgar Alan Poe in his poem, “Alone”

"From childhood's hour I have not been As others were — I have not seen
As others saw — I could not bring My passions from a common spring —
From the same source I have not taken My sorrow — I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone — And all I lov'd — I lov'd alone —

What a bold assertion!
What a completely unapologetic affirmation of this poet’s unique singularity!
With what familiar resonance these sentiments are echoed in my mind and in my heart!
Poe embraced his singularity to fulfil his destiny and secure a position of posterity in literary history. By no means a role-model for every facet of life; Poe’s one caveat that we should all take to heart is to acknowledge and nurture our own uniqueness and be true to ourselves as we explore each heading on our course through life. I believe that unless we do this our outcome is worse than death – it is never to have lived in the first place.
Many, many people never fulfil their own destinies. They end up living lives that never feel right and never fit right. An ill-fitting shoe may blister your “sole” but an ill-fitting life will blister your “soul! It is a very uncomfortable way to live - but for this transgression against self, I am the first to issue a “me culpa”.

I have stopped, stymied at the same impasse in life before which each of you here is struggling with tonight. I didn’t know what work to pursue to make my life meaningful and rewarding and I was at a total loss to explain why my life didn’t add up – why I was not satisfied by the emotional and physical returns of my investment. My own answer came to me from following my first caveat. I acknowledged my problem, I created an atmosphere conducive to self-dialogue and I slowed down. Working less freed up valuable time to follow my interests. That’s when I realized that I had overlooked one very simple but very crucial factor in the happiness formula. I had removed passion from the equation.
My second Caveat is – follow your passions! Two excellent sayings I’ve embraced recently are,

“Don’t leave your passions at home” And
“Find something you LOVE to do and you’ll never work another day in your Life!”

Now I’ll tell you this – although I am not a lazy person, I don’t want to work! I want to build a life around my passions. I’m 50 and a half years old and I know that I cannot bear to be told what to do for the rest of my life by time-watching, position-guarding, anal-obsessed mediocrities. That is MY bold assertion!

To find what you love to do you must search diligently. You must be open to and aware of opportunity when it presents itself and you must be able to say “yes” to life. Don’t turn around and say you’re too busy to go out and do something new or that you already have too much on your plate because you know that most of what’s on your plate isn’t really appetizing anyhow! Don’t settle for SPAM when there are TRUFFLES for the taking! Try something new and say yes to life. Because I said yes, I’ve taken on some exciting projects over the past year and in the process, discovered my passion for working with written and visual media. I took on a media presentation project to mark my father’s 80th birthday this year. I became captivated, beguiled and inspired by the creative possibilities of digital story-telling. Because of my diligent search, I found that I love filming and editing both still and video images and because of my love for this work I have started my own home business called Time of Your Life Productions. In the process, I have added to my list of accomplishments. I have designed my own web site, business cards and promotional material and with a most grateful nod to the teachings of Toastmasters, I have prepared and successfully presented video proposals to prospective clients. It’s been a hall mark year in which I have successfully positioned myself at the helm of my own life! I may not be sailing the Queen Mary and I’ve by no means reached my final port of call but all that matters is that I call myself captain.

And so my new friends, with what you take away with you this evening – and I don’t believe that you have been over-burdened - I will expect you to place yourselves firmly, decisively and joyfully at the helms of your own lives, fuelled by your own passions and set on a course that points to your heart’s desires. As you start your new beginnings, remember your 2, simple caveats – only YOU can affect change and follow your passions.