I meet a lot of people on cruises. A subset of those are other speakers, but there are surprisingly few. There is a formula I don’t entirely understand by which the number of sea days or short stops in ports are calculated so that they have the right number of speakers to fill the time available. Because most itineraries are port-intensive, I am probably three quarters of the time the only speaker on board.
There are exceptions. I have sat in the audience to listen to retired astronauts, astronomers, FBI agents, movie executives, admirals, baseball players and even the florist to the Queen. I must say that, sadly, I have rarely met another woman in my role. Pretty inexcusable, and I don’t know what to attribute it to.
I always go to the talks, even to the speakers who are less than compelling, unless they drive me away. There was one who managed to work into each of his talks that he “hadn’t had the time” to go to mine. When he got even basic facts wrong in his talks, and then, apparently was dismissive of my expertise privately to guests, I decided I was too busy to attend his talks also. There was one who was clearly loaded when he arrived and ended up giving what sounded like the same talk over and over again. Something about galaxies, and stars, and…I forget.
And the florist to the Queen? I just couldn’t manage to care over the course of four talks exactly what massive arrangements he had delivered to which royal, and where. The baseball guy—well, I went to every one of his talks because I love baseball, but apparently fewer than a dozen others did.
i have sat through a number of total snoozers and a few that had me riveted every minute. It’s been a long time, though, since a speaker made me feel as if I was in the presence of someone who had lived an utterly awesome life. Today I had one of those moments. The speaker, David Mackay, was a man who had a long career as a music producer and then as a television producer of the theme music for a number of British sit coms.
I am not star struck by whomever he may have been on a first name basis with. I have never given a damn about celebrities because fame isn’t enough to make you interesting. Also his career was long enough ago and so rooted in England that I didn’t recognize many of the shows or stars he worked with, but that didn’t matter to what I took from having listened to him.
Here was someone who knew where the men’s rooms are in the studios at Abbey Road. Not that he told us that, but my point is that he was ensconced in a place where music history was being made. He interacted or directly worked with many artists that are iconic to me. He talked about the era when first stereo and then 8-track recording were the biggest thing in ages, and how the business has evolved since then. He was there at an amazing time and can tell the story. As I chatted today with him at lunch today, I was looking into the face of someone who has had a truly remarkable life.
I can say the same for so many of the people I have shared a stage with. Maybe they feel the same about me, maybe not, but I don’t care. Hearing about other people’s lives is wonderful, but I come away affirming that my story is big enough for me.