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Friday, 27 April 2012

Seeing myself as others see me

What a humbling and rather gruelling thing it is to watch yourself speak. I’ve winced and contorted whenever I’ve heard my voice on an answer machine in the past – surely I can’t sound that bad, can , I? But now I can watch myself in full Technicolor giving the time for reflection to the Scottish Parliament last Wednesday. 

You can watch it too.

I never knew I looked so serious. I thought I smiled at a couple of light-hearted comments. But no. No wonder nobody laughed. 

I never knew I spoke so slowly. I thought I was punchier. Showed a bit of life. But no, a very serious delivery.
I’m sure much of that is down to nerves. I didn’t feel overly nervous, but when I watch it now, I recognize the signs. 

It’s one thing to be able to stand up and share a few words in public. It’s another to be able to do it in a relaxed, chatty, accessible way. Of course, I couldn’t be too relaxed and certainly couldn’t be chatty as I had to stick to the script, which had been approved. And I only had four minutes, max.

I remember my classmate Mike Lipson, student body president at Millikan High School in Long Beach the year we graduated. He had to have his speech for the Baccalaureate service approved prior to giving it, but then he launched into an attack on school dress codes instead. For his crime, he was banned from walking through our graduation ceremony a week later – and graduation ceremonies in the States are a big deal. It was the scandal of the year for the class of ’69.

I wonder if anyone was reading along with my words on Wednesday, and if the microphone would have gone dead or I’d have been stripped of my right to vote had I digressed significantly from what was approved.

I don’t know, but I do know that although I can spout off with some rebellious opinions between the four walls of my home, I never really seriously considered embracing the moment of exposure to rant on about some cause or other. I never felt remotely tempted to write an alternative reflection to deliver instead. I’m just not really a rebel.

Or at least, that’s not the way I see myself. I wonder how God sees me.

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