I woke up in the middle of the night to a bad dream. I don’t remember the exact details, but it was the kind where you can barely catch your breath once you wake up. I think the dream was just the manifestation of my underlying nervousness about giving the speech at graduation on Thursday night. I have a draft of the speech, but it is not finished yet. This speech literally has to be the best words that have ever come out of my mouth. These students mean so much to me, my colleagues mean so much to me, and this will literally be my last act as an employee of the International School of the Americas. The funny thing is I love speaking in front of groups. I would much prefer to address and audience of 500 than an audience of one. I am the absolute worst “small talker” in the world. My brother Cody is amazing at small talk. He can literally talk to anyone about anything and by the end of it, it is no longer small talk. He walks away from these conversations with invitations to dinners, free tickets, names and addresses of surrogate mothers, detailed histories of people’s former (or current) addictions. He’s like the people whisperer. I on the other hand clam up or talk myself into a corner where there is no possible way for the conversation to continue. Fortunately, I feel right at home in groups of ten or more. I say funny, creative things. My voice sounds really cool. I can make eye contact. So writing this commencement speech should be a piece of cake.
I am about to go into seclusion and not come out until the thing is done. I am going to relax and do what I tell my students to do. I am going to write one true thing. I’ll speak honestly, from the heart, and that will have to be enough.