By Jeannine LaRue
I love delivering keynote addresses…and not for the reason that many folks would suspect. It’s not the limelight of standing before hundreds of people that turns me on during these 17 – 55 minutes worth of words and gestures. And…no…it’s not about hearing the inflated and often self-serving introductions that sometimes precede my carefully researched and prepared addresses that get me hyped! And…it’s not even about impressing the audience to the point of prolonged and well-meaning standing ovations that keep me seeking one more invitation to walk behind a podium and to hold that mike…repeating the same exercise again and again and again…delivering a keynote address.
The thrill is the journey that has shaped my life motto: “There are only two days important in one’s life…the day you are born and the day you know why.” Yes…it is the recognition…the homage I pay to the collective stories that have defined my “why” throughout the years that drives me to find venues…reasons…opportunities to stand before crowds of 10, 50, 100, thousands of people and just tell it. The retelling of these stories are healing…soothing…comforting…and affirming of the fact that tragedies and painful events need not define us. The retelling of these collective stories remind me the absolute power of forgiveness and how liberating the act of forgiving can be to one’s future existence.
And…oh…the retelling of my stories…my high’s and low’s…my failures and victories…often serve as a catalyst for my audiences to tell THEIR stories…their marvelous stories of redemption, pain, successes…tears and laughter…all while adding to my own personal healing while being an active spectator for someone else who is experiencing what I feel every time I step up to the podium and pick up that mike.
Hmmm….those two important days…the day I was born and the day I knew why…drive me to tell and retell my stories. One day…the story will no longer have to be told because the day I was born and the day I knew why will belong to the Universe…as will I. But, for now….I’ll continue to seek out the venues and reasons and opportunities to draw out the “why” from others. May the cycle of self-renewal and forgiveness and affirmation continue.