I’m nobody

Recently I read a column by the editor of our local newspaper about her fear of public speaking.  I think that is the Number One Fear in the Book of Fears.

The actor Richard Burton (I THINK it was Burton – goodness knows, I don’t always remember accurately – or at all) said he was physically ill before every stage performance – frightened to death about speaking in public.  Fear of public speaking  is the number one phobia of a great many folks.  No one is immune – those who think they can’t speak eloquently and those who speak very eloquently indeed.

Paul Newman and A. E. Hotchner wrote a delightful book entitled In the Pursuit of the Common Good which was mainly about the idea of marketing Newman’s salad dressing and his passion for establishing the Hole in the Wall Gang .  The Hole in the Wall Gang was a charitable organization serving children and their families coping with cancer.

You know the success story stemming from Newman’s Salad Dressing which evolved into production of  popcorn and everything in between, with all proceeds of sales going first to the Hole in the Wall Gang and branching out to other non-profit organizations.

In the book, Newman and Hotchner wrote about their endearing and enduring friendship as well as Newman’s products, beginning with Newman’s Own Salad Dressing.

However, Paul (I think of him as Paul – forgive me) also wrote of his immense fear of speaking in public.  Paul Newman!  Imagine.  Yet, he would overcome this fear – again and again.  He spoke publicly about the Hole in the Wall Gang and the need to help these kids suffering with cancer.  He spoke to various groups about drug abuse (he established the Scott Newman Center).  He spoke about political issues which concerned him.

Yet, he always feared public speaking.  Amazing.  He was eloquent and he was humble.

“I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there ‘s a pair of us-don’t tell!
They ‘d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!”

– Emily Dickinson

An aside:  the editor of the Seguin Gazette is very eloquent indeed.  She speaks rapidly.  She is succinct.  She is interesting with a delightful humorous side,  and  is a marvelous story-teller.  She is an excellent public speaker.  She is eloquent.  She is humble.

Someone as bright and engaging as she has the same old fear that we ordinary people have.

It is universal!

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