A great singer once said, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run,” and those words flitted through my brain as I headed up to the mic with my tablet in hand. I hadn’t planned to run, though I had considered running in the opposite direction. And I managed not to trip over all the cords, so that was a bonus.
“Our next reader says she’s livin’ the dream, so she may be sleepwalking up here!”
I reached the mic, smiling at the intro. “Well, I don’t sleepwalk, but I have been known to talk in my sleep, so here goes nothing.”
And then I set my tablet down. Three lines into the poem I’d planned to read, the screen went black. I don’t like public speaking, but I seem to keep finding myself doing it, even when I don’t mean to. And when I’m in front of people, it doesn’t take much to get me flustered, so a malfunctioning tablet was sure to do the trick.
I was prepared for that, though. My tablet’s battery was already low—and getting lower—when I arrived at the Hearst Center, but I hadn’t had time to print off a copy of what I planned to read because I hadn’t decided exactly what that would be until after I arrived. While I was preparing my reading, someone asked me if I trusted my tablet to see me through, and when I glanced at how much battery remained, I decided it would be smart to have a backup plan.
So three lines into a thirty-nine-line poem, my tablet crapped out. Evidently I set it down on the end with the power button, which turned the whole thing off. Not to worry—I whipped my phone out of my back pocket and continued reading without missing a beat. It made my intro feel even more fitting.
And it all worked out in the end. Several people told me how much they’d liked what I read, and a couple of people (including the MC) commented about how seamless my recovery was. What can I say? I have a history of quick recovery when it comes to technical difficulties. Once, in sixth grade, we did a project where we had to do a mock radio broadcast. As we went to play our musical selection, my tape deck hiccupped. Without even thinking, I said, “We are experiencing technical difficulties—please stand by,” and my co-host went into commercial. I can’t be sure anymore, but I think he completely ad-libbed the commercial, and we ended up doing really well on the project.
Nothing like quick thinking to save your bacon.
If only all of life’s hiccups were that small, things would be pretty good. But that doesn’t mean that a little preparation and a bit of quick thinking can’t still save you when things aren’t going your way. Patience and persistence are both vital ingredients when it comes to making your own good luck, and while I may not be the most patient person in the world (far from it, in fact), I am certainly one of the most persistent. Some may argue that stubborn is a better word for it, but sometimes in life, you have to be stubborn in order to get what you want.
It’s like Don Schlitz said all along: You gotta know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em.
And just keep swimming.
What about you? Do you enjoy being in front of a crowd, or would you prefer not to?
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