Shelley Widhalm

Condoleezza Rice at CSU

In Passions, Shyness, Writing on April 24, 2011 at 8:06 am

I was one of 8,000 lucky people to attend Condoleezza Rice’s lecture Tuesday night on current events, foreign affairs and education atColoradoStateUniversity’s Moby Arena.

As a reporter, I had a media pass and sat on the floor of the arena with a dozen other reporters, photographers and videographers.

At 7 p.m., the song “Celebrate” came on, making me think we, as an audience, were celebrating the chance to hear the former secretary of state speak.

After the National Anthem and the introductions, Ms. Rice took the stage. I dutifully took notes, expecting to write my story and be on my way. I’ve covered dozens of lectures, panel discussions, speeches and whatnot on political, social and economic topics. But Ms. Rice, after touching on her experiences in and out of office, as well as what is happening in the Middle East, talked about passion.

What struck me was her saying that you need to follow your passion, or it will find you. If you follow it and do what you love, other things will fall into place, she said.

Ms. Rice’s passion is in the political arena, something that found her after she tried studying piano. She served in political office, held many roles and now is a political science professor at Stanford University.

My passion is writing. I found my love of it in the sixth grade and have been chasing my dream of becoming a published novelist since. But I am not being brave about it. I wrote my novel and am editing it, but I’m waiting, not chasing. I’m taking the safe course of working and fitting in my passion when I can. I let this mad desire to write drift away when I think about the practical things I have to do each day.

It’s like my heart is bursting with my love of the dance of words that take over my body, but I hesitate. I don’t know how to push myself over that fine line between practicality and going for your dreams to be who I really am.

It’s like shyness, I guess, this holding back of the self to be safe and practical.

I’m not saying, though, I will ever give up my chasing of words, wanting to hold them on my breath before I let them loose onto the page.

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