I gave a workshop on stage-fright the other day. The more I thought about it the more I concluded stage fright is a conversation about the divided self. While gathering ideas before the talk, I thought about an imaginary stage-fright experience, like supposing I have to speak to perform music before a group of people and I am nervous. In fact that is exactly why I was asked to do this, they are performance students in a music department. And so if I was them what might I be afraid of? Probably, forgetting my material and/ or looking foolish. Those were my conclusions. I thought if one truly know their material inside out, they definitely can depend on it. If my job was to descend a staircase it doesn’t matter if I am nervous. My competence to walk is not threatened in any way by nervousness. Even if a million people were observing every step, even if Sandra Ouellette was there watching, with whom I had a disastrous teenage affair and for decades later wondered what became of her – no problemo I could overcome the distraction. Legs lift the feet up and down, I command you. I could even calculate one hundred and sixty-seven divided by three, multiplied by fifty-eight. If the body knows, the body knows. The divided self is the part to worry about. I have no magic answer except admitting it, talking about it can help deflate it. I never got to test my instincts because nobody came to the workshop. Jokes on me or else they’re all scare-de-cats.

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