My late friend Tazeen encouraged me to have confidence in myself at a time when I really needed that – and I spoke about her yesterday, at Wilton’s Music Hall, for One Track Minds.
I have no plans to do the talk again, because I don’t want my real feelings to be diluted by repeating.
I don’t want to find that I am using my friend, or our friendship, as mere “content”.
I didn’t talk only about Tazeen. I started by talking about the strange but very welcome experience, when I was let out of psych ward, of being prayed for in the middle of the street by my friend W.
As I mentioned in the talk, Tazeen later asked me to pray for her, and I did.
In my world, until relatively recently, I don’t think I ever heard people talk about praying for other people. If I had, I probably would have thought it was nice, but silly.
I don’t think it’s silly any more, but I won’t attempt to explain what it is. I like the not-knowing.
There’s a recording of the talk, but not sure yet if I feel like sharing it.
For what it’s worth, to people who are interested in the business of giving speeches, I came on immediately after somebody who had a very funny story to tell, and a wild energy. I was fairly sure that my story would hit everybody as a dreadful downer.
If I held my nerve, it was by deciding very clearly that I was delivering the talk in memory of my friend, rather than to “be a good speaker”. It wasn’t about me. I had to get out of my own way.
Also, I listened carefully to the man before me, so that I would be able to acknowledge what he had spoken about. Coming on stage I stated that I was going to find it hard to follow him, but I hope that I did so without cringeing: just a statement of fact. I spoke slowly, to ensure that the change of pace and mood was unmistakable. And acknowledged that what I was going to talk about had some things in common with his talk – then listed them.
I mention all this because it seemed important to me at the time that I should attempt to “honour” the space he had created, rather than pretending that it didn’t exist or trying to trash it. I wanted to “build on it”. I don’t know if any of this makes sense, but that was my approach.
And my talk went over well enough.