I'm so excited. A new adventure has come my way. Luck is nothing more than the meeting of a prepared life with an unexpected opportunity. Never forget this. What you dream of doing, you will do. But only when the time is right. The easterners say, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." I found that to be true. But I've also discovered an equally true truism: "When the teacher is ready, the students appear." I am ready. Finally.
About three weeks ago, the Dean at the Department of Communication called me out-of-the-blue and invited me to be a guest teaching professor at the University of Kentucky for the upcoming spring semester, 2012. She offered the opportunity of teaching two classes, one in creative writing, the other in persuasive public speaking. I chose to teach the latter only, given such short preparation time. So I've been reading and preparing to teach for the last several days. And I am pumped, as you might imagine.
I love writing and, if this goes well, I'll perhaps do that next fall. But, as you know, I love speaking equally as well. I want nothing more than to add value to these young college students (who look like mere kids to me - the consequence of my age, no doubt). As much as anything, I want to help them overcome what is still one of the greatest fears with which we all live - the fear public speaking.
I remember once while coaching the leadership of a huge parish in southwest Florida, the sheer fear that swelled over me when the senior priest asked me to speak in their weekend Masses. I agreed before I realized that I would be addressing more than 17,000 people. That's right. A struggling little mission parish of 17,000 strong. On the day of the speech, I sat on the platform and looked out at what seemed like an endless sea of human bodies. I nearly panicked. As I wiped sweat I could feel running down my forehead, I thought to myself, "17,000 people who'll have in just minutes 17,000 different opinions of me? How could I possibly control all of their opinions of me?"
That question was a gateway to inner peace, strange as it may sound. What dawned on me is that I could no more control the opinions of 17,000 people than I could that of seven people. Although I had heard it before, it became real to me at that moment: "What others think of you is NONE of your business!" I delivered the speech flawlessly. At least in my own opinion. In the end, my friends, what Roosevelt said - I think it was him - is so right: "It matters not what others think of you; it matters only what YOU think of YOU." So live your life so as to live with yourself...and be at peace.