Over drinks at a local hotel Friday night with friends I remarked I couldn’t understand why anyone should be afraid of sharing oral (public speaking, reciting or reading poetry and creative writing) or music with others in addition to sharing it with themselves (I call that “practice.”). They smiled politely and told me I’m an extrovert, which for me — and for those within earshot — is usually a good thing for me to be.
Today I’ve been thinking that an extrovert is what I am not. There are times when I am hesitant, “afraid,” even, to share poetry, theater and song with others. Those times come when I’m not confident the material will be delivered as practiced, as intended. It’s the “fear factor” that drives me to practice.
I do it because I’m afraid of reciting it wrong.
The motivation to deliver words and music from memory comes not from a sense of liking or loving people I don’t even know but from a need for validation from strangers that my effort has produced a positive outcome delivered back to me in laughter, applause, and if I’m lucky, conversation with friends and strangers afterward.
When a local poetry group I was part of read and recited regularly at Barnes & Noble, I participated as much for the pleasure of what followed — pizza and beer at The Barrel Head and burgers and Cokes at Steak & Shake. You may ask, “Are you telling me that you memorized Vachel Lindsay’s “The Santa Fe Trail” for the outcome of pizza and beer?” My answer is “Yes, in the short-term.”
I’m spending less time with poetry these days as I continue to move into the AeroKnow Museum, and I miss that time. I miss meeting with the gang at Trout Lily Cafe downtown Saturday mornings where — even though they don’t focus at length on talking POETRY and passing around POETRY as consistently as in the early days — I’ve discovered on occasional brief visits on the way to my part-time job at Rock World that the subject occasionally gets mentioned and I am moved to think about it, like massaging a muscle I haven’t used in a while.
My magnum opus these days is the AeroKnow Museum at the airport. I loaned the Museum $77.62 I could not afford so that I could pick up eight more glass shelves Friday. I’ll be setting them up today after I leave Rock World. I’ll also be unloading another file cabinet and eight file drawers and two small boxes of model kits manufactured during World War II. I need about $400 more to finish the initial glass shelving effort. If YOU want to help, make check’s payable to AeroKnow and send to AeroKnow, 428 W. Vine, Springfield, IL 62704-2933. And if more than $400 comes in, we will find something to do with it. This is just the START of something big.
I used to think that as long as the collection remained at my house, the support would never come. I was right about that. I thought that as soon as I established presence at the airport, the dollars would come. I was partially right. Support has permitted the purchase of a few glass shelves, an incredible color printer that will allow us to generate income from the sale of pictures and copyright-expired document scans. We also have a terrific desk and some recently donated historical publications. This enterprise involves more focus than what’s required for rattling out three or four pages of a favorite Lindsay poem. And I’m giving everything I can to the effort — including ignoring obligations to others I would honor if the museum were better set. I’m doing this not because I like to haul and heft and arrange and box and pitch.
I’m doing this because I’m afraid of doing it wrong.
Live long . . . . . . . and proper.