Ted Talk by a martial artist on martial arts/About speaking

Being in Toastmasters I’m sensitive to the “Umm’s” & “Ahh’s” uttered in a speech.  I and the other speakers get evaluated on them.

Yet, they can help to maintain a flow, and; how they are used can reflect and honor the rhythms you’d expect from a unique personality.  It’s when they’re pauses for blank mental spaces on the subject matter or speech that it’s bad.

This guy is pretty good. Knows his subject matter, sounds passionate about it, and is graceful. 

On this talk I stopped counting at 11 ahhs and umms, but they go by almost unnoticed and didn’t feel like mental blanks.  I think sometimes they work like a sort of metronome for a skilled speaker, or like a momentary  pause to insure accuracy in their next statement.  I can’t begrudge them for that, I appreciate their concern.  Used occasionally, I don’t think it’s such a huge speaking sin.

Same for the momentary hands in pockets.  It helps you relax for a moment.  It may reflect fear and insecurity if you’re digging into your pockets reaching for your kneecaps, but resting your arms from just hanging I think is a rather natural gesture.  I’ve seen men wearing a blazer rest by holding their jacket at the button and buttonhole edges.  It may look cooler and more poised but it’s still a rest from hanging arms, and I don’t think they get gigged for that.  How about sticking your thumbs in your belt?

I saw a picture of some English and American Politicians posing in groups.  In one group all the men had their hands clasped dangling in front of their crotches, in the other group all the men had their hands clasped behind their back.  The question was asked; what were they protecting and why?  Not to mention who was who.  I don’t remember.  Ummm, not sure why I bring that up.

There are gestures that are useful to convey emphasis and drive, the steeple, the hands is askance, the pointing, but if overused they can be as bad as any hands dug into pockets.

What about women wearing dresses, what can they do for an arm rest?  Well I notice mostmen will stand square while many women will naturally pose in what’s called a “model’s T” feet shoulder width apart, one foot in front of the other front one pointing ahead while the back one facing laterally. Even if they have their arms dangling, they seem more relaxed with it than the men.

What I think is that the ahhs and umms, as well as the resting use of the arms, are indicative of the unique person before you.  Unless they obviously bespeak lack of subject matter knowledge or lack of confidence, a few of them should not even be counted against you.  If everyone got zero ahhs, ums, and stood like a statue they’d be robotic and dry.  In a speech I don’t want just the words, I want the speakers personality to come through, through their vocal variety, tones and inflections, grammar, posture, rythyms, facial expressions, all of it.

Part of why we go see or listen to a speaker is not just to get the information but to know the speaker.  It’s a good talk.



Desiderata, And Commentary

Commentary at the end…


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

Over the years my wife and I have come back to contemplate this simple poem.


Happiness (Photo credit: 4nitsirk)

We are well read in religion, philosophy, and personal development, and find this is one of those rare messages that can transcend dogmatic barriers, and touch anyone’s soul.  It has an air of intimacy, like a wise old grandfather whispering to you some practical, inside information. Indeed, I believe this short poem alone can guide one to being a godly, spiritual, or ethical person. Yet, it contains no promises of either immortality, riches of any sort, unconditional healing, or other ease of living.

Almost every line has been a favorite of mine at some point or other. One of the regular standouts for me;  Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.  So many times we want spiritual wisdom, strength, and answers, desperately, in a time of crisis. But otherwise have no time to explore and develop when things are neutral or well. Nurture… these words are uplifting, relaxing, and motivational all at the same time.

It is one of the treasures of wisdom I like to share with friends and loved ones.

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Electronic Social Rudeness

What is it?

Electronic rudeness?  Utter lack of consideration?  Social media Insensitivity?

I’ve been in several gatherings now, including with guests in my home, where it seems like most everyone drifts to their personal electronic device, phone or tablet, to check their Facebook, or look up Youtube things, to impress each other with.  I’ve been in a room at a social gathering where fifteen or more people, sitting next to, and across from each other, are all locked into their personal device, one upping each other with a status, video, or post thing going on.

I think that’s exceptionally rude.  I think it makes you miss out on the richness that you have in your present environment.

It’s ignoring the people present with you for petty, trivial, insignificant electronic diversions.

Group of young people texting on mobile phones.

 (Photo credit: DFAT photo library)

And it’s grownups doing it! I’ve made it a point that if and whenever I’m at something where this goes on, I’m out.  After all, it is a sign that they’re out with something much more important and of greater urgency than being with me.  My feelings aren’t hurt, it’s more that I feel sorry for them.

The “tyranny of the urgent.”  A friend used that phrase many years ago to explain why people didn’t really practice their religion.  There’s always something more important than meditation, prayer, scriptural reading, good works.  But there really isn’t.  And I don’t believe “the devil” is at work creating that tyranny.  It’s all an excuse.  It’s all a disguise for fear and insecurity.  Funny, people do this even at church services.  I haven’t been to a Zendo in years, but I wonder if it goes on there?  Imagine a room full of people chanting, or in silent meditation, and someone pulls out their phone to take a picture of the others and post it saying “Yo, we’re doing Buddhism!”

Don’t let this tyranny of the urgent rule you.  It’s ego gratification. It’s not “sharing” that’s a pretense.   It’s hiding, and it’s encouraged by the virtual applause; the “like.”

The “tyranny of the electronic urgency.”  It’s oh so important to know right now, right now, before it’s too late, no matter where you are, at the speed of light, what your internet friends are having for lunch, picture, caption, and all!  Never mind that you are having lunch with a real live person at a real, not virtual table.

Instant social media messaging and information dissemination  have great uses, they have sprung revolutions, warned of dangers,  and caused great societal changes.  But so much of many friends’ “I’m in the bathroom and out of toilet paper!” is not urgent to me, and I bet to most others.  Do we need to know that, right now! Really? To the exclusion of our real life lunch companions?  I believe we can do without posting it or having to see it so urgently.

Is it my age; that I’ve been around since before the dawn of personal computers and internet?  Is it my upbringing; that I was taught to be attentive to the people around me?  Could it be my spirituality; where mindfulness need be present activity?  Could be all of those.

Just the other day I hear of a party, where the host put a bowl with a sign by the front door, for people to drop their phones and gadgets into while they were at his gathering.  Good idea!  Gives respect to the privacy of the gathering and encourages people to be present for one another.  They’ll have to converse, talk about stuff off the top of their heads, using their own minds and internal reference points.  Wow.  I think I may want to make a sign like that for my front door.

I wonder too; am I the only one who see this.  Is it a geographical thing, just where I live in Florida?  Are there social, or educational denominators for this phenomena?  Or, is it just the world today…

I hope this trend dies out.  I’ll do my part to try to kill it, I hope you will too.

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