Saturday, May 14, 2011

The time is 10:50 a.m., the limo is scheduled to arrive at 12:15 to deliver Dorian and me to the Concourse where Commencement of the Class of 2011 will begin promptly at two o'clock ... .

It's reminiscent of those late teen years when my mother would try to talk me into not waiting for my date to arrive -- sitting on the front steps.  I'm now waiting for the limo and trying to not be looking out through the drapes for signs of arrival, two hours too early.  I will surely have wilted before the party begins! 

I've been up since six o'clock.  I lay awake for hours -- after attending the Fashion Extravaganza on campus; a most exciting event!  I hadn't planned on going, but found that I needed to have a continuing immersion in the universe that is CCA in order to fulfill the role that I've been given as mentor.  I'm finally convinced that this word is fittingly descriptive of why I'm here and being honored on this day.

On Thursday evening there was the warm reception and beautiful dinner (with bouquets of cream-colored tulips on each table) in the honor of the two of us who are being honored.  The limo's arrival at 4:30 was preceded by a ring of my doorbell and the delivery of a lovely floral bouquet with a card of congratulations from President Stephen Beal of CCA.

By midnight last night the panic set in.  Was I simply foolish to think that I could actually deliver a major address without notes?  What ever was I thinking?  This would be like performing a high wire act without a net!  And the promised carefully constructed speech of my dreams was nowhere to be found.

I spent hours trying to recall just what it was that I felt so sure would be standing by to be drawn upon.  Nary a word.  Had I become over-confident from conducting years of bus tours as an National Park Service interpreter, and for total strangers -- and doing it without notes?  I work from memory and whatever the moment held for us, together, to be expressed and explored.  Why had I put such stock in my capacity to transfer those abilities into this once-in-a-lifetime event?  Is this not what others train long years in order to do? 

Then, at about three in the wee hours of the morning the words began to line up in recognizable order to be uttered from the lectern this afternoon.  Rose about six and logged on to my computer and brought up the word processor in order to pull together at least the first few words of thanks to President Beal, my friend, Sanjit, who would be introducing me; the Board, faculty, staff, family and friends, and finally, to the graduates.  I'm counting on those important words to provide a proper foundation -- a chance to settle in and become accustomed to the setting -- and I'm gambling on this being enough to steady my emotions enough for those words of long nights of tossing and intense dreaming to come through.

It's still "Thumb prints, Gate Posts, and Bookends."  The connecting truths are there waiting in the wings of my mind.  If not, I will allow my words of gratitude to suffice.  But they will come.

I'm certain of it.

Almost ... .

Peace be with me ... please!

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