Sunday, May 5, 2024

In the Wind

As fellow writer Lisbeth says, "we have just so much ‘schtick’" when it comes to making presentations. So whenever I’m asked to speak, I try adjust my schtick to be to relevant and (hopefully) entertaining to the particular group I’m addressing. Recently, when my friend Rhonda asked me to speak to her ladies organization, I spent several hours honing my usual material into a customized presentation for them. I also spent a good deal of time practicing my delivery.

Since this presentation wasn’t going to involve Powerpoint, I decided to go old school and use paper notes. (Does anyone do that anymore?) But I figured paper would be less cumbersome than hauling my laptop and worrying about technology glitches—which have been known to occur. I know younger folks—that means anyone younger than I—rely on their phones these days, but for me that also presents its own set of problems. So paper it was.

The morning of the meeting, I gathered my books and promo material into a basket, adding my notes as the last item. As I loaded all my paraphernalia into my car, I double checked that the notes were there, and I distinctly remember thinking, “You’d be in a world of hurt without these.” A foreboding?

I arrived at my destination in plenty of time, confident I’d done all I could—including praying— to ensure my presentation would go smoothly. It was a windy day in Oklahoma—no surprise there—and I pushed my hair out of my eyes as I retrieved the basket from my car. I walked toward the building, greeting a few people on my way. Rhonda met me at the door and directed me to the meeting room.

I began setting up my display: books? check; bookmarks? check; business cards? check; newsletter sign-up list? check; notes? …. notes? NOTES???!!!

I frantically searched the basket. I flipped through the calendar I’d brought as well as several books. I inspected my money bag. Not yet going into full-blown panic, I returned to my car, certain the notes must’ve fallen out there. Nope. 

Now I was panicking. 

The phrase “in the wind” is traditionally used to indicate "about or

likely to happen" as in "a company takeover is in the wind." But I became familiar with a different meaning   two years ago when I read Rembrandt Is In the Wind (which I highly recommend) by Russ Ramsey. I’ve heard the phrase a few times since, most recently in a mafia movie: “I’m afraid Benny is in the wind.” It’s a great metaphor for gone, disappeared, vanished, scattered to a far corner of the earth never to be seen again. In the case of the mafia movie, it was code for Benny is resting at the bottom of a landfill. 

In the midst of my panic, that phrase came to me. The only logical conclusion was that on my way into the building, my notes had blown out of my basket. In my case, “in the wind” meant spread across five Oklahoma counties

I had a few minutes before my talk. I breathed deeply, waited for my blood pressure to lower, collected my thoughts, and once again prayed. In the back of the calendar I’d brought, I quickly jotted down what I remembered from my notes.

In the end, all went well. Fortunately, I remembered most of my talk since I’d practiced it so many times. I confessed my situation to the women gathered, a gracious and understanding group. As I spoke, I grew relaxed and felt I was talking with friends. 

When I was leaving, I laughed with Rhonda about the incident, and she shared with me something she’d recently learned in a Beth Moore Bible study. Moore had advised women that whenever they found themselves in a panicky situation to ask the question, “What’s the worst that will probably happen here?” 

I thought about that question and came up with my personal answer: Nothing that, with God’s help, I can’t handle—even when my best laid plans end up "in the wind."