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Shot Of The Day

Cousin It

Love Without Props

Where did you say they were?” I asked the express shipping customer service representative with a bit of urgency in my tone. “Ohio” she boldly replied, as if this was some common occurrence with second day air. “But my speech is in West Virginia tomorrow and those are my speaking materials. I need them. Why are they in Ohio?” Now sensing that this could be a bit of a problem, she responded more sheepishly — “because we decided to close our facility where you will be speaking and we dropped your shipment off at the US post office in Ohio. They’ll be there in a week or so.” Panic was my first reaction, then denial, then anger, then resignation. What else could I do? Speak for two hours without props? Without the crutches I always prepare just in case they don’t like me or find any interest in what I have to say. The props that hide me just in case I need to hide. While public speaking ranks at the top of all time fears for the general population, speaking without props ranks in another stratosphere for the speakers’ population. Taking the advice of Randy Plausch [author of The Last Lecture], I introduced the white elephant in the room right away. Finally, when I did get rolling on my speech, what little props I did have [power point] faded in and out. In the end, it wasn’t flashy or fancy. It was more stripped and bare than usual. But it was a real epiphany for me. My props might let me down. And then what? What’s left then? The heart of the matter, the substance and the passion that drives this speaker to speak — the legacy we leave behind with our lives and our images. In the end, stripped of all the pomp and circumstance, fancy graphics and interactive workbooks, this question was the important one — what’s your legacy gonna be? Are your photographs purpose driven? To what end are you picking up that camera? What is your point? Where are you going with it? It is a lesson God seems to be teaching me in so many aspects of my life — “can you give without your props?” Can you meet another human and not hide behind your makeup, title, things, degrees, achievements, clothes, etc., and engage and give whatever you’ve got worth giving in a meaningful way without worrying about what you look like or how you sound? Can you give without hiding? Can you love without props? Like this crazy flower. It goes out into the world daily dressed only in the gifts God gave it, just as it was designed. Isn’t that good enough? It has to be, cuz the props? I’m realizing more and more, they won’t always be there. More importantly, they are certainly hiding something!

Posted: 16 July 2008