Friday, 16 September 2011

My Book of Life

I made my first proper speech at Toastmasters last night, shaking in my boots the entire time! Somehow, though, my evaluator (and others) were convinced that I was supremely confident, prepared and relaxed. Nothing could be furtehr from the truth! I just have a little trick learned from my years at the SABC: when nervous, voice rising to a squeak, employ Radio Voice; it drops my voice an octave, forcing me to speak slower and sounding more confident. 

Anyway, as my Icebreaker topic (which is all about mememe), I chose the theme Book of Life. Here's my speech, although I didn't follow it to the letter, but winged it - I forgot my notes!

There are many ways to point out the complexities that make up a person’s life. One could say they have many facets, like a diamond; that they are multi-dimensional; even that they have many layers, to be peeled, like an onion. For myself, I like to think I am a book, with many pages in many chapters, pages that have been written, and are being written even as I speak. This is my Book of Life.

Why a book? Well, I’m fixated on books and on reading. I’ll read a shampoo bottle if I have nothing else! I’ve been reading since I was three years old, and it’s all because of my grandmother, who loved reading, and sought to instill that love in me. She read to me every day from the time I was born, and so I was able to read myself at such an early age. Reading is my life - it’s in my blood. And that’s why I’m even planning to get ink off the pages and onto my skin. That way I’ll always have something to read! My first tattoo was of a literary character; my next will be of a library.

Incidentally, wouldn’t it be cool to have a house that has enough rooms to have its very own library? I dream of having so many shelves I’ll need a librarian’s ladder to find the books near the ceiling. I’m inspired by the late author Louis L’Amour, who, when he died, had a library of over 20 000 books, in shelves three-deep, reinforced to prevent the house from collapsing under the weight of all that paper! A man after my own heart.

My love of books is also why one day, I plan on doing a librarian degree. It’ll open up a whole new chapter in my life. And in any event, I need to learn the Dewey decimal system, and implement it in my own home! After all, I may not have a separate library in my house, but I have so many books they’re piled and stacked not only on a variety of bookshelves, but in piles on the floor, on any available surface, and even in boxes that have yet to be unpacked.

Another aspect of reading is learning words in different languages. It’s wonderful knowing how to say a few phrases here and there in a language other than your mother tongue. Speaking of languages (pardon the pun), I enjoy learning bits and pieces of languages other than English - not that I know many other languages, only a word here or there. However, I am learning Klingon and Elvish as part of my own learning curve  or, to satisfy my love of fantasy, Elvish. Yes, they’re made-up languages, but they are real languages, with syntax and semantics, so I think they qualify!

Why Klingon? Well, this year is the 45th anniversary of Star Trek, and as a good Trekkie, I couldn’t allow this opportunity to pass without doing something to celebrate. Elvish is a n extremely romantic language, and wouldn’t sound out of place in normal society, so my poor, beleaguered boyfriend being shoe-horned into learning along with me - after all, what good is a secret language if there’s no one with whom to share it? I’d love to learn a language out of Star Wars, but at this point there isn’t much other than Wookiee, and grunts or howls don’t translate acurrately to the written word!

And yes, I know that this makes me a geek - but I’m proud of it! I enjoy much of the incredibly geeky fan set, such as science fiction and fantasy, not to mention comics, games and TV shows. I’m a dork because, well, dorks get REALLY EXCITED about things, and don’t pretend to be bored or blasé just to fit in with their peers. I’ve been known to do the excited hopping from one foot to another, or dress up in a cloak and carry a sword to a Harry Potter premier. I’m a geek and proud of it.

And as a proud geek and a voracious reader, I’m happy to call myself a word nerd! It frustrates me no end when words are used out of context, and I find myself raging silently when words are misspelled - I can forgive one misspelling, but more than that is fire to this particular word nerd’s brain!

There’s a lot more to tell, and not enough time to tell it. But rest assured: this Book of Life has many more pages still to come!

I must confess that I was more than a little proud of my speech in relation to the other icebreakers; I chose to speak about one aspect of my life that is very important to me, rather than give a virtually blow-by-blow account of my life thus far. This is not to say that the other speeches were bad or poorly done; just that they focused on the flow of their lives. Maybe I'm being too self-congratulatory. 

In any event, I think I should hone my speech a little, become more confident, then look at giving it again - perhaps at a Johannesburg club instead, where no one knows me at all. Speaking in front of complete strangers might be a good idea this time! After all, I joined Toastmasters to leap out of my comfort zone. 

As an aside, I also presented the Table Topics for last night's meeting; instead of coming up with a theme, which is what I've seen done before, I asked people questions like, "What superpower would you want", "What does colour mean in your life", and the like. My favourite answer came from a colleague whom I don't know very well, who was talking about her favourite book - one from her primary school days. She recalled every aspect of that book, from the words to the colours, and, of course, the story. I was so glad to find someone as passionate about books as I am!

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