Toastmasters... speech 3

The idea of competent communication speech three is, ‘Get to the point’. Hope you guys enjoy this first draft.


I really love coming to this group. Over the past 6 months, I have been privileged to hear all about things you guys love to do. I’ve heard about your hobbies, your vacation adventures, what you do at your jobs, crazy situations in which you’ve found yourselves… basically, a cross-section of the things that happen to us all in our day in and day out lives.

But during that time, I’ve heard amazingly little about who each of us really are and what we feel about the world around us. I’ve spoken about my slanted personal view of the universe, about my love of all things design and other random items during table topics, so I’ve contributed probably less to serious speeches than has anyone here.

Its not that I think we don’t enjoy the topics of our speeches, far from it. I’ve not once sat in here and thought to myself, “Did the person speaking right now take lessons from politicians about how to fake-smile their way through a speech that really doesn’t matter to them?” But enjoying something and caring about it are two different things.

So, I set about trying to figure out a topic around which I could build a serious speech. Many people would consider their family, or politics or sports as something about which they are really serious, but if you’re like me, you’re probably just the slightest bit tired when someone trots out the new set of 500 glamor shots of their kids, or when you hear a political advertisement, or you’re just burnt out on the Olympics. Given those topics really just did not feel right, I looked back over my life and thought I would talk to all of you about things in my life which I had found very serious.

The first thing that I ever found to be a real passion in my life was the church. My parents are paragons of the faithful, and for a time, they transferred their love and passion to me. I saw the church as one of the few really bright spots in the world. It wasn’t that there was necessarily anything special about the people individually, but when they joined together, they could accomplish amazing things. I wanted to spend my life dedicated to the service of others, to immerse myself in working to better this world and thus all of us in the world.

As I grew older, I refined that passion from the church in general to music in particular. I had been raised in church choir and loved the music. Ok, I didn’t love the hymns, in fact I thought they sucked in particular, but I loved what music conveyed in general. The way in which rhythm, notes and lyrical content all combined into a swirling, encompassing mixture was something that seemed like magic to my young self. I added musical instruments to the mix, bringing a new, mechanical dimension to the passion. I studied, taking classes in theory and history, adding to my musical knowledge daily… while the passion died a thousand tiny deaths.

It was fortunate to me that my next passion had been building for years, slowly biding its time right next to the dwindling music. It was literature. Well, more correctly, it was reading. I can’t say that every book I’ve read really qualified as literature, but I can say that all the volumes added to my love of the written word. I love reading so much, I had to take up carpentry just to make room for my growing collection of tomes. Massive amounts of reading took its logical course, and I began to write, first a blog, then a diary, then stories, then books and now blogging again. None of it something I feel is of noteworthy quality, but something that is of me, that shows who I am.

But like the two passions before it, the word, too, began to fade. My last attempt to write a book was almost two years ago, finished only because I was laid off and had plenty of time in which to finish it. Blogging is an intermittant joy, mostly as a place to sort out my toastmasters speeches. Even reading happens only when there is no web surfing that needs doing.

Music died a similar death. As I spent all that time studying what made music good and what made music bad, the music inside me went fallow, withering away under the scortching heat of term papers, tests and concerts. This was my first understanding that something you dearly love probably isn’t something most of us should choose as our occupation.

And the church, something that stayed with me through all the other passions, has now faded in the past with everything else. Except when required to by family functions, I attend church maybe half a dozen times every year. Its not that I find church to be any less of a force for good in this world, just that my desire to help bring about that positive change to be at a very low ebb.

So here am I, finding the point of all this seriousness, that my passions have all been found fleeting, mere passing fads in a life that feels too cynical for its 32 years. I say all of this, not out of a quest for pity, nor out of some hope that this admission will rekindle an old passion or spark a new one. I say it simply as a statement of what is. My life, for all its joys and excitement, feels rather dull and worn, like an ill-fitting shirt from goodwill that you really like but that just never seems to lay right on you.