Got a black magic woman

More on the woo woo. But I’ll keep it short this time.

So you know that I gave a speech at the U.N. back in 1997 at a UNIS conference. The way it happened was that we would sit for lectures and then break out into small sections of ten people for discussion. The conference was on Technology in the 21st Century. I had thoughts. I was a super smart autistic kid, so I could monologue. Most of these kids, while smart, had no ability to talk on the level of what the lecturers were talking about. So I dominated those groups, but, really, they just wanted to listen to me talk…about stuff I had no way of knowing what I knew.

The second to last day, each group had to nominate a member to try out for keynote speaker. I had been in the bathroom when this happened and I came back to find out my group had unanimously chosen me. Was it because I was brilliant or was it because I just happened to be the only one not present? Column A/B situation, probably.

After the conference adjourned for the day, the twenty or so of us had to give a 30 second pitch to the UNIS school principal and he picked from those. Thirty seconds. None of us had anything prepared. We didn’t even know this was part of the conference. The stakes were high–keynote at a UNIS conference as a teenager? And the competition was smart, capable, well-spoken kids from all around the world. When it came to me, I just talked. I don’t remember what I said, but whatever it was, it was enough. The principal chose me. Now all I had to do was write a speech that evening to present the next day in front of everyone. No sweat. Except I was in NYC, unsupervised and your girl likes to party all the time, party all the time, party all the tiiiiime.

I didn’t write my speech that night.

I wrote it the next day by hand on some scratch paper while the conference was going on. I’d finish a page, put it aside on the table. I was sitting somewhere close to the front with Scott, this kid from my high school. I couldn’t tell you what country’s table we were at because the countries rotate tables alphabetically every year. But here’s a picture to give you reference.

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I was up on the left hand side, maybe three tables back.

So I’d write a page, set it down, and Scott would pick it up and read it. I didn’t outline. I didn’t brainstorm. I’d been conferencing for days and partying for nights. I barely had any brain function at all. So whatever came out…just came out.

As Scott read the pages, he realized that everything I’d just written was now being said by the actual keynote speaker of the entire conference. What he said was brilliant…what I’d written was even more so. Where it came from, I couldn’t tell you. Page after page just poured out of me, and then came out of the mouth of the keynote speaker. I think it freaked Scott out. He kept waiting for me to finish each page so he could read because it had gotten spooky.

Great, if you enjoy being right. Not so great if you have to follow this guy and say the same things he just said, only you’re a 17-year old hungover, sleep-deprived kid.

My speech still went over well. But it was one of those moments that confirmed to me…though I was not able to understand it at the time…that the things I knew were things that experts–grown, adults with Ph.D’s and published books full of data and grandiose philosophy–had to study to understand. But me, this kid who couldn’t read study, let alone many studies, who lived in a town where being smart could get you hurt and bullied, who came from a family that didn’t buy books period…me…I knew things far beyond my capacity. Far beyond most people’s capacities.

At the time, I wasn’t big on humility. I was a know-it-all. But even this scared me a bit. I’d had to mask who I really was growing up. What people already knew about me had already made them dislike and distrust me. And now it was being confirmed that I knew things that worldwide experts knew. I had to hide it because I was worried that this could really hurt me.

Now, I’m humble. I’m so humble. I’m the humblest. Just kidding. I’m still a jerk and a snob, but I also know that I have very little to do with whatever this is. I meet the gift halfway by being the best person I can be and with wonder and with humility. But it does not belong to me. I do not possess the gift. It is merely something that is a part of me that I have to honor and hone and maybe share. But only with those who will be able to understand. There are not only people out there who will dismiss or persecute. There are people who will be jealous. I’ve encountered jealousy my whole life and I’ve seen how it can be the most destructive force in the world. If people can be jealous of your looks and brains…two things you have little control over…imagine how they can be jealous of divine inspiration or whatever this happens to be.

I do’t want to be burned at the stake. I’ve got to be prudent. We’re currently in a pandemic. Everything is shut down, everyone is isolated. There’s lots of time to think and meditate and plan. In the immortal words of White Snake,

I don’t know where I’m going
But I sure know where I’ve been
Hanging on the promises
In songs of yesterday

And I’ve made up my mind
I ain’t wasting no more time

Here I go again
Here I go again

Though I keep searching for an answer
I never seem to find what I’m looking for
Oh, Lord, I pray
You give me strength to carry on

‘Cause I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

Here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone

But I’ve made up my mind
I ain’t wasting no more time

Just another heart in need of rescue
Waiting on love’s sweet charity
I am gonna hold on
For the rest of my days

‘Cause I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

Here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
And I’ve made up my mind
I ain’t wasting no more time

But here I go again
Here I go again
Here I go again
Here I go

And I’ve made up my mind
I ain’t wasting no more time

Here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
‘Cause I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

Here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
I have made up my mind
I ain’t wasting no more time

But here I go again
Here I go again
Here I go again
Here I go
Here I go again

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