Anything worth succeeding in is worth failing in
“Quit your whining and complaining” is probably a clause that can easily be translated into every language in every culture on earth, for, from what I know and have seen in the world, bitching about anything resembling a chore is probably embedded in our DNA as humans. And so it is at Fenn. Every year as WW Fenn presentations loom near I find myself wondering abut the whining and complaining about something as simple (yes it is!) and noble (yes it is!) and worthwhile (yes it is!) as our speaking contest. My only beef it that it is a contest. It doesn’t need to be a contest, nor should you think of it as a contest; rather, it is an opportunity to practice one of the most amazing things of being human–which is presenting and interpreting greatness in the miraculous song of the human voice.
More than anything else, your voice is you. It is the most direct route for your values, hopes, dreams, frustrations, setbacks, achievements, and needs to reach another human being. The WW Fenn is a small chunk of time devoted to learning how to use that voice more effectively. Show me the man or woman who laments being able to speak well and articulately, and I will show you a fool.
The WW Fenn Presentation (I am trying hard to remove the word contest) is also an opportunity to commit to memory a chunk of words that is always at your disposal, ready to enrich, enlighten, and edify some future day when you need the comfort of words well-crafted and suited to that time in your life. My head is chock full of songs, poems, stories, and bits of lines from what I have heard and read over the course of my life. I don’t think there is any amount of money that I would trade for these words–because these words are as much my flesh and bones, and so to lose them would be to lose my lifeblood.
If learning a few lines of prose or poetry is still a drag and chain on your life, more’s the pity for you because you are learning too early in life to diminish the possibilities of the day.