There’s only one way to start something new, and that’s badly.

You will not know what you are doing. You will make mistakes. Other people will be better. You will open yourself to criticism. You will feel bad. You might be sore. You will definitely be frustrated.

Do it anyway.

Why would I encourage this? Because the option is living a small, stagnant, fearful life.

The first time I ever spoke in public I was humiliated. I stood before my entire church to give a report on Vacation Bible School. I was picked out of the entire fourth grade class.

I worked hard and made notes. I rehearsed. I shined my Sunday shoes to a glow, put on my black Buddy Holly glasses and stiff white shirt, tied my tie twice to get it right, combed my cow-lick and was ready.

But when I stepped in front of that cavernous, formal, stain-glassed church I followed a fifth grade girl. She didn’t use notes. She was entertaining and clever. She kept to her talking points and finished with a flourish. The crowd roared. It was like following Beyonce at the Super Bowl.

As I climbed the mountain of blue carpeted stairs to my doom, I decided to ignore my sweat-dampened note cards. I stepped before the microphone, looked for the first time at a sea of expectant faces and instantly forgot everything I’d ever known. My mind was a warm brick. My one joke bombed. Crickets fell silent. The wind stilled. A cloud passed over the sun.

It was awful. Afterward, classmates jeered. Girls passed in horror. Even my best friends were cruel. My parents offered comfort but refused to move to South America. I was going to have to face abject failure. And my young life had held such promise.

It was years before a required speech class put me before a crowd again. I did badly, but not as bad as I’d expected. I learned. The teacher gave me the confidence and tools I needed. I tried out for a play and got a lead role.

Later, I fell in love with the guitar and began to sing. I found myself in front of crowds often after that. I made mistakes, forgot lyrics and once fell off the stage, all in front of crowds. They laughed and forgave me.

I met my wife because she saw a college talent show. I can’t imagine life without her. You never know how things will turn out.

But you know how they will start – badly.
Please note: I’m having trouble with my computer and am not worrying about pictures for the moment. More pretty scenes coming up.

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