Andrew James Whalan

Poet Blogger Writer

Category: Speeches

Captured By An Audience

You never really wanted to go out there. You’re outnumbered for one thing. You know that any false move in front of them will be the last and final one. You’re thinking that the light is too bright, your  voice will be too soft, your tread too heavy, your stance too awkward. You’re really scared to death, deep down. You don’t know why what starts you on those first steps out there. You shuffle tentatively at first. Then you’re puzzled as to why you then confidently stride forth. It’s as if you’re already a success. Like you’ve already been applauded and called back for more. And then you meet.

 

You’re all alone, just you and them. You never expected them to listen, even for a moment. You start as you always do. You focus on relaxing yourself. Or you’re trying to look relaxed. Or acting as if you already are. But now you don’t have time to be confused. You’re already speaking. And listening to your tone, your rhythm, your timbre and your breath.  For it’s as if to your great relief, at the very last moment, someone far more confident than you’ll ever be has stood in for you. And saved you. And for that you silently give great thanks.

 

But in all of that you kept on speaking. And you never think that ten seconds in, they’re looking you in the eye. And that after eleven seconds, you can look straight back at them. And that after thirty seconds in, they’ve stopped fidgeting, all of them. You watch extra carefully and realise you’ve never seen so many people sit so still for so long, ever. You start to become aware that perhaps these people may have started to listen to you. You’d never think that there could be such a thing as an inviting silence. And you’re in it,far too involved now to realise how rare and precious is the privilege they have extended to you. And you meditate upon that and think perhaps you really do have something far more to say than your trite rehearsals. And you keep on speaking amazed and astonished.

But you were waiting for the whisper, the voice too loud, just  enough that will silence you and your words forever. But it never speaks. It is struck silent by the silence.  It never speaks because there’s nothing for it to say. Yet you say it just the way you’ve said it before. And in the reality, it’s better than you’ve ever heard. You never think the pause for breath, which seemed in practice so short and now is an everlasting chasm of time, is perfect comic timing.  You make the joke that you’ve heard far too many times before. You know they’ve heard it for the first time. As now do you.

 

You find yourself unexpectedly relaxing and experiencing that joy of the endless moment. And you’re left wondering why you ever were afraid in the first place!

Through The Eyes of a Child

This is a speech I wrote and performed  during my time in Toastmasters.

See podcast on SoundCloud

See transcript:

One more story. One more story. One more story. Please.

PLEASE. I’ve already read you 3 or 4 stories already and its late.

What time is it now ? Story time daddy.

I’m tired. Sleep Time. Good night.

Another story. Another story. Well, maybe I’ll tell you one.

 

A little boy wakes up from a dream and sees the world for the very first time. He sees the seconds becoming minutes then hours and then to days and weeks. He’s too little to think about years yet. He wants to hurry up and grow up. After all grown ups have it all.

 

Like you, the little boys asks lots of questions, He wants to know everything and now. But no-one tells him all the answers. After all grown ups know it all. He doesn’t see them asking questions. But he still wants to know.

 

He gets a little older. He gets hurt as children do. But sometimes its too much to bear. And so he looks to his grown ups. When hurt comes they don’t flinch. So he does the same. He sets his face like flint.

 

But sometimes, something catches his eye. Like a flashlight behind his head.  Seeing a sunrise. The orange glow then the sun popping its head over the horizon. Watching the waves break tall, the spray cloaking the lighthouse. Like a flame around a match.

 

In time, his delight died. Now older more wiser nothing could touch him. He had seen it all.

Now he was grown up. A rational being. Just the facts and figures. Everything in black or white or shades of grey.

 

But life’s a stream that flows. He tries to send love away but it sneaks in even when he is watching.

The boy now a man, fell in love and married. Is this all ?

 

The river of love carries him forward. The boy now a man becomes a dad. At first being a dad is just another job. Deadlines to meet, tasks to do. A fairly demanding boss.

But sometimes something catches his eye. His daughters first smile. Or something tickles his ear. Her first laugh as he picks her up. And then it happens.

 

Cooped up in the house. Its raining. So loud on the roof that he can’t hear himself think. The air so close like a wet towel that doesn’t dry you. The baby crying of course. Must stay calm. If I’m calm the baby will be calm. The rain stops. The sunlight through the window  Need a breath of fresh air. The sun has just come out. The rain is gone. And she turns and looks. Then she points. “What’s that ?”

 

Just the facts. “Well after it has rained, the sun shines through each raindrop. Each raindrop splits the white light into its constituent colours. This is called the spectrum” And she stops him. She turns and looks and says “What’s That ?”

 

And he stops and looks and sees for the very first time. It’s a rainbow. And it has many colours. Red, green, yellow, blue, purple, orange. And (gasp) it is beautiful. And look closely. It’s a set of colours that seem to weave in and out of each other. Yet each colour is its own. And you could almost reach out and touch it.  And it delights him.

 

I thought I had seen it all. I was blind. I see the sun dancing on green leaves and gilding them gently. Like Icing on a cake . Now I know what gold-leaf truly is. A breath of breeze changes it all and its still icing on the cake. The painting in motion that is a sunset. First the wispy pink clouds in the east turning to purple and then dark . While the sun pours out golden glory in the west

 

And I know like a child that through such things comfort will come. Beauty is always waiting to be found. To steel yourself inside against such things is to steal yourself from the beauty, joy and sometimes ugliness that is this world. At least now I’ve stopped playing hide and seek and can come out to play.

 

But I don’t know it all. Like a child I want to know more. I always did. And there still are questions that cannot ever be answered. But they still have to be asked. Children ask them. Adults should. So do I.

 

I thought grown ups have it all. They don’t. I don’t. I’m just a borrower. Like a child when I see something beautiful. I just want to pass it on.

One day I saw a rainbow coming home on the train. And it was perfect. And so coloured. I was the only one that noticed . Everyone had their heads down. “get up everyone, look at this rainbow”. I wish I had said that. Later on I realised. It doesn’t matter. The rainbow was just for me. All I have to do was pass it on.

 

When you see through the eyes of a child, one sees the world for the first time. When you see through the  eyes of a child, one knows the world was crafted just for you. And then you know what it is like to hold the hand of GOD !

 

 

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