22 March 2018
Locate the nearest washroom … I am growing old. Maybe I am the only one who needs the consolation of the proximity and known whereabouts of this item, but I am so much happier when I have located it and know where it is. For me, it’s part of the pre-reading, ‘scouting out’ process that I wrote about yesterday.
The other thing I should have mentioned: work out for yourself a simple relaxation exercise that helps you to concentrate and brings your nerves back under control very quickly. Closing your eyes and breathing deep, one in, one out, does it for some. When uptight, I use a simple exercise from my early piano lessons. (1) Shrug your shoulders, relax your arms and let them hang down, then roll your shoulders, forwards and backwards; (2) shake out your forearms and fingers; (3) close your eyes and breathe deep. This takes about five – ten seconds.
A personal anecdote: the first time I was due to read a paper at a major academic conference (in Laval University, Quebec) I was standing outside the lecture room listening to the chatter of a group of friends. I opened my mouth to join in and … squeak … no sound … speaker’s block … my voice had disappeared.
I eventually found a washroom, did a series of relaxing routines, including this one, sipped some water, and just like that, my voice came back. I returned to the conference and was able to read my paper, five minutes later, without further embarrassment.
Such narrow margins between success and failure.