Thursday, December 2, 2010

Taking the Stage (and a question on camera flashes)

From the second I published yesterday's blog I was in "ultra-super" nervous mode. With each passing minute the intensity rose, and this was still with seven hours to go! I knew it was serious when I decided to go with a tie and coat. Minus the clip on tie I wore when I worked at the bank this was about the fifth time I had worn one (all others, I think, were weddings).

The car ride to the hotel where the Festival of Trees was held seemed to take longer the car ride I had on Sunday which was Washington D.C. to Saint Louis. Words were swirling about in my mind and I still had no idea about what I would say.

I thought that once I got to the hotel and had my book area set up the nerves would ebb. I was wrong! I was in a very 'snippy' state and minor things were too much for me to bear.

My table where I was selling my books got moved a couple times and this was just more to process. Speaking of processing though, I had an interesting run in with camera flashes. I say this because six years or so ago I had my picture taken and after the flash I blacked out and collapsed on the floor. Flash forward (sorry) to last night and the photographers taking commemorative photographs were right across from me and with each flash I felt strange. What I mean by strange is that it felt as if I was right on the edge of passing out. My legs would go partially numb and it certainly felt as if my blood pressure was dropping. After this though my heart rate would rage upwards and I could feel the adrenaline kick in. The sensation was akin to that when I have sensory issues with sounds, but the numbness was new. I do have the question that, is this response to the flash of a camera unique to me by itself, or another issue that is tied into Asperger Syndrome? Perhaps I can ask the neurologists Matt (the TouchPoint Community Liaison) and I are meeting with in a couple hours for a lunch and learn.

After the flashing issue I got moved to the final spot I was in and my nerves did calm somewhat when I was settled and then was left alone. My dad had been helping me but I was in no state for any outside influence. What this means was I could do my job and talk about my book, but only on my terms. Any help or assistance would not be of any because it would change the dynamic of the second and my mind was overloaded with thoughts and interactions outside of my job at that point in time was just a recipe for snippiness.

Once the sign-in period was over my table once again moved downstairs and I walked into the hall where the presentation would be. At this point in time I still had no idea what I was going to say. I did know I wanted to use the line of, "understanding is the foundation for hope" but other than that I had no idea how to get to that point.

I was not paying close attention to the clock, primarily because I did not want to know. I knew that I would not be able to come to an internal consensus as to what to say so once the time came I would hope that I would say what I needed to say.

As I was eating my salad the time came. I was told, "we're about to start; come up front". It was time and I was out of time. I was a boy scout for a while in 3rd grade and I remember the motto, "Be prepared" as I was walking up to the stage. I laughed at this and thought, "Some scout I turned out to be."

I stood next to the stage and was in the shaky state I was two months ago when I was on the panel with Temple Grandin. The only thing going through my mind was, "stay conscious!" as I would not want to be remembered forever as the guy who passed out up on stage.

The seconds waiting as Ron Ekstrand, CEO of TouchPoint, got the evening started were like hours and days. Heck, for sensation purposes, let's say the seconds were like millenia passing. I was still trying to piece together some sort of outline of what I was going to say, but before I could do that I was introduced and it was time. Prepared or not it was time.

I walked up the massive flight of three stairs and took the microphone. It was sink or swim time. My mission was to state why the parent training program is so vital to families and I started by saying that I was diagnosed at the age of 20, but when I was I made the mistake of reading on the internet what it meant and I just read a "whole lot of garbage" as I thinked I had it phrased last night.

After that I don't fully know what I said. At some point in time it occurred to me to use my "being written off" concept that I wrote on here because Ron had said in the intro that many families are told to simply, "put your child in an institution as they will never amount to anything." I think my words were something like, "Think of that. To put it simply that is a human life just written off, but it doesn't have to be".

Besides those words I do not know what I said, nor do I care to know what I said because I know I forgot to use the only line I had in my mind in advance. "Understanding is the foundation of hope" was somehow omitted from my 3 minute speech and this irked me. Well, it more than irked me as I thought I had failed. People told me to the contrary of that, but the only thing I wanted to say was left unsaid. Perhaps it was better, perhaps it was worse, but I thought I had missed my mark.

Then again I did get up on a stage in front of 400 people. That within itself is an accomplishment and I know I felt no fear in regards the the people. The only anxiety I had was to what I was going to say to the audience. As I write this today I am no longer beating myself up for missing my key line because if it was perfect, had I come off so scripted, then perhaps that would have lessened the power of what I say. What I mean by this is that I feel if a speaker is so scripted the value of the words diminish as one wonders if they simply read the words, or if they feel and believe the words they speak. There was no doubt, I'm sure, that anyone questioned my belief in the words I spoke and my belief that TouchPoint's parent training program is one of the most important things parents can and should do. That being so I will accept that what I said last night was an example of me swimming and not of me sinking.

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