So many things go just right, and I hardly notice that. There’s the lecture that goes perfectly. The notes are there in front of me, neatly printed, and matched perfectly to the slides, the slides pop up on the big screen without a glitch, it ends up just the right length, and people say nice things afterward. When all that happens, I just move on to the next thing without giving it much further thought.
It’s the unexpected that can really dump rain on a perfectly good day, like the time my screen went black because my computer ran out of battery mid-lecture. Mind you, I always have it plugged in, because it is a victim of Apple’s planned obsolescence and doesn’t hold a charge well. This time I plugged it into a power bar that, unknown to me, was not connected to a power source backstage. Adding to the snafu was the fact that the technician had slipped out of the booth and couldn’t be located for fifteen minutes (probably down wherever the crew are allowed to smoke, from what was whispered afterward). Meanwhile, I went to Plan B and lectured until he got back to fix it, with no slides or audio. No one walked out, so I guess it ended up okay, but since luxury cruise ships demand a lot from their crew, I don’t think the tech will last long.
I can easily shrug off other people’s mistakes and shortcomings, but I am so much harder on myself. I hate making mistakes because I hate the impact this brings down on me— time wasted solving self-inflicted problems, occasional embarrassment, lost opportunities for something better to do with my time, energy, and—occasionally—money.
I have been very mad at myself a couple of times this part of my Year of Living Travelly, and (except for carelessly letting myself get pickpocketed in Barcelona and leaving my favorite European adapter in the wall socket in Corfu), mostly this has been caused by my lecture preparation. No doubt about it, being able to deliver cruise lectures is what is making all the rest of this possible, so they must go well.
The last of my Mediterranean cruises for this year starts tomorrow, and my anxiety level is a little higher than usual (after more than five years doing this, it is usually close to zero). Most of the lectures are substantially new, focusing on the specific ports. The anxiety isn’t palpable, but is a soft drone in the background that will only be resolved by giving the lecture, and of course by a little extra forethought.
So far, since I left home in March, I have had three problems I brought on myself, which means it has gone without a hitch almost all the time. As for the rest, first , I brought the slides for a very old lecture on Pompeii, and the notes for the revised one. No go. Second, I didn’t have the slides at all for the lecture on Carthage. I guess I just didn’t migrate them over from my desktop to my laptop, and I don’t have the hang of the Cloud yet. Both of these glitches were easily solvable, since I can always find an alternative lecture that fits the itinerary.
The third was another thing that, with all the balls I was juggling when I left home in March, just got overlooked. When I went to review my lectures for this upcoming cruise while I was in Rome, I discovered that the segment for one whole port was just nowhere to be found. Fortunately, I had printed out my notes so I had the text I had prepared, but it took all afternoon with a really pokey hotel internet to recreate the slide show for about 20 minutes of lecture.
Having a lot of experience is very helpful to maintaining peace of mind, as is a willingness to go to Plan B without fuss or fury. If I always get Plan A right, there won’t be a part two to this post, but calling it “part one” is my way of telling myself to keep a sense of humor about my own imperfection and the inevitable bumps in the road. As my favorite fridge magnet says, “Always Make New Mistakes.” If I want the life less ordinary, I have to accept that this inherently means things will not always go according to plan.