Driving I-95 S. In a few breaths. In a few steps.

I’m medicated. Two doses of NyQuil overnight, followed by a single dose of DayQuil. Smooth gel tablets roll in my palms. FloatingIs this Nepo’s half-wakeful state? Is this place the other name for Heaven?  

Thursday. 7:30 am. Late jump. Traffic is flowing smoothly.

Head cold, congestion, body aches. Mucus draining in throat. What’s that smell of rot? Breath sweeter than a Honey Badger.

Day 3, no relief on horizon.

I tried to bow out of this speaking engagement earlier, you know, with that excuse of an important client meeting that conflicts on your calendar. Just couldn’t do it.

And to cancel now? At the last minute? Don’t feel well. Have the flu. Sorry. And leave them hanging with an empty 30 minute slot in a full day event planned months earlier.  No, no, no. A burden too heavy to carry.

So, I begged down the engagement and they agreed. I’ll take 30 minutes of Q&A “on any topic.” 

I’m introduced. Kind words in the introduction. There’s warm applause.

I walk up on stage.

And what was missing in the morning commute, arrived.

Anxiety.  Body shivers. NyQuil, not strong enough to dull Fear, of nothing to say, of not having answers, of not being inspiring. Of looking like an idiot.

There are no mics. I have no speaker notes. I have no presentation slides as a crutch. OMG, I’m hyperventilating. Lily Tomlin, as Edith Ann, sitting on a high chair. On a large stage. In a large auditorium, with stadium seating towering above. Alone.

I’m asked for opening thoughts. Empty.

There’s no gracious opening remarks that slide off tongues of professional speakers.  There’s no “thank you for the invitation.” There’s no “it’s so good to see so many friends again.” There’s no “thank you for a great year.”

I get off the high chair, cautiously stepping down to avoid toppling over, grab water, take a long, slow drink, and swallow. I take a few deep breaths to buy some time. Get a grip man. Start with the Truth, that typically works.

“Good morning everyone.  I’m a wee bit under the weather.  I have no presentation deck. No grand outlook for 2019. I’m here to take your questions and perhaps share my perspective.  And hopefully learn about what’s on your mind.” Did I just say that? Not bad DK, not bad for impromptu.

30 minutes later, I walk out. I gently close the large wooden doors, leaving the auditorium behind me.

The anvil is lifted, I’m a hovercraft, floating. I walk to the parking garage wrapped in Goldstein’s soothing balm:

Then, just for a moment, stop and settle back into the body: feel the foot on the ground, feel the next step.

Home DK.


Photo: Phillippe Conquet


  1. freddiegeorgia says:

    I can’t wait for you to retire 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Besides spare shoelaces, I always have a sleeve of orange and green capsules, for just such an emergency. It might not have been pretty, but you got ‘er done ✅

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Painful to read, David. Hope you are feeling better.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Don’t know how you do it, pal. I couldn’t stand in front of an auditorium full of people and talk for 30 minutes if I felt like a million bucks, let alone when I felt like 💩. Now I hope that you can take the weekend off, maybe even administer some sort of sugary relief. I found this recipe yesterday and I am thinking I need to try it…. https://www.facebook.com/1512602674/posts/10217700547214764/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Lori. I laughed at the Emoji. Good one. I’m off this weekend and next weekend. Full R&R, no travel. Now the recipe link you shared, is broken. Can’t access. Can you re-send please? I’m dying of curiosity.


  5. You do misery well, David (I mean the writing of it!)
    And kudos to you for not leaving them in the lurch despite your misery.
    Now, do take the weekend off, k?
    It’s funny… I took the I-87 N in mine 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think we’ve all been there at one time or another David, you are to be commended for soldiering on and getting through it, but now is definitely the time to take the advice of your wise peers above …

    Liked by 1 person

  7. …well, …agony, doubt, dread, feeling like a trapped rat, but in the end…grace!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. oh no, oh no….. you’re braver than I would have been! And you must be REALLY important for hanging on there while you were feeling like —- (fill in suitable term)
    as always, great writing except that this Swiss has no idea about your medication…. but I guess it’s not important to know the brands, is it

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like the fact that you honored your commitment; hopefully, you are using the weekend for some R&R.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Well done, DK. Glad that’s behind you. Sounds like you handled it well, and that will make you more confident next time. Just add it to your long list of credits.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Been there, done that, got through it, don’t remember much about it. Gosh, I hope you weren’t driving with all that medication in you or operating heavy equipment! Get better soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. you have worn me out! glad you made it -)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I would say one of my greatest fears in life is getting off of those high chairs!

    Hope you’re feeling better, David!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It reminds me of my first debate in HS. i stood up to give our first rebuttal. Looked at the competition, a 12 and 13 year old out of Jesuit Prep that had given a stellar first affirmatve. I looked at the three judges. One little old englsh teacher with blue hair, a balding middle aged boring looking man and a hippie looking guy reading a well worn copy of “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail”. The room was spinning, Time stood still. I cleared my throat, cauht the hippies eye and said “Just another moment for me to get my shit together please.”
    My partners head hit the desk.
    also reminds me of the speakers at my NA group. Usually they are well polished, there story haing been told many times.
    Its the newcomers I like though. You can smell their fear when they take the podium. But sometimes they speak so much from the heart. No grand presentation. Just raw perspective from someone that doesnt pretend to have ANY amswers.
    Oh, that first debate? We finished strong and won!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. If you retire, we don’t get to read these real life stories! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Well done…feel better

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hope you’re feeling better David!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. the photo…the mysterious allure of DK moving forward into the engulfing great unknown…

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Well, you know, humility is ever peering over one’s shoulder, Kilroy-like. You handed this well, redirecting (what I suppose were) feelings of inadequacy and overwhelm to the audience. Inspired, that. Not sure I’d have thought of it, myself. Then again, in front of an audience has never been a ‘look’ for me. Aloha, David. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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