We are asked to perform every day.  We present ourselves to others and communicate messages and emotions.  We entertain and inform.  We tell a story.  

As I waited outside the auditorium, I remember it being dark, but familiar.  I've grown up in these halls.  The concrete under my feet and the shingled siding offer comfort as I review my lines in my head. The bustling sound of chairs adjusting, parents and siblings chattering and settling in emanates from inside.  In an instant the booming voice of Mrs. Thomas resonates and all else falls silent.  Here we go.  My heart picks up pace.  I'm practically in a runner's starting stance.  I begin to bounce on my toes a little.  Here we go.  

On cue, I swing the door of the auditorium open and enter with a flurry.  Like all good actors, I'm in my character and "living" the part.  I'm not reciting.  I'm not acting.  I AM King Nebuchadnezzar!    And this is Babylon. 

As I walk through my palace, I begin to ascend my throne, continuing my raging monologue. And then in an instant, like waking from a dream, I am all of sudden at my knees on the stage in my school's auditorium again.  There are lights in shining brightly behind me and I can see my starkly cast shadow on the floor in front of me.  My crown has fallen to the side.  I raise my head slowly, eyes still shut and can hear whispering voices in an otherwise silent and seemingly empty auditorium.

As I open my eyes slowly, I see my classmates.  Some in wide-eyed shock, some snickering, some with eyes rolling, and some with looks of sympathy.  As I rise slowly and turn around, I can see the faint outlines of people in the audience, and then Mrs. Thomas at the foot of the stage by her piano.  She leans over the stage and asks if I am OK.  I can't recall if my response was audible or not, but in an instant I fall back into my dream and continue on.

The next thing I can remember is the end of the performance.  I cannot remember the dream.  I cannot remember the performance.  This was the last time I was able to perform without fear. The last time I was able to "live" the part.  It was the single event to strike me with stage fright for the rest of my life.  It would shudder my confidence for years.

To this day, any time I am in front of more than 20 people or in a "performance" situation, my mind leaves me, my body defies me, my emotions, and fear of failing in particular, take the better of me.  I can prepare lines and speeches, but if I try to improvise and perform from those lines, I will fall. 

Such is the case with my latest performance, an annual presentation to our Board of Trustees as to the state of our school and where we are headed.  My role is small compared to others on my administrative and academic team, but it is important nonetheless.  

We are doing so much from behind the scenes that no one will ever see.  No one has a selection committee for the color of fiber or CAT6 cabling.  No one really cares.  But when we can provide a myriad of options for our teachers for years to come, I feel an immense sense of pride and contribution.

I had prepared well for this meeting noting our contributions and a upbeat look to the future. But as I my turn to speak came around, it all fell apart in my hands like a house of cards.  I jumped from paragraph to paragraph looking for my anchors, looking to restart. REBOOT!  But in a room of 40 very important and powerful people, there are no reboots.

King Nebuchadnezzar PLEASE come back!

This is a pivotal time in my career, and this year in particular will help me define myself and my work for years to come.  I need to find a way to remember that performance from 5th grade.  I need to find MY King Nebuchadnezzar again.

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