“Is this on?”
He/she tapped on the mic and looked quizzically over the crowd/congregation/audience/student assembly.
“Is this on?” It’s a universal question delivered by almost every public speaker or singer who’s ever gotten up and addressed a microphone. I’ve noticed it, time and again – along with a vast array of other quirky and insecure human behaviors. I love to watch people. And to listen to them.
Tap – tap – blow. “Do y’all hear me all right?”
Please, for the love of heaven, just start talking/singing/speaking in tongues and let the sound guys work it out.
I’m sure I’ve done it, too. I know I have. I’ve tapped on mics, shuffled papers, shuffled my feet, stared at my feet, stared at the words of a song on a piece of paper, said “uh,” “um,” and cleared my throat ad infinitum … a million times. I try not to. I try to be smooth.
But frankly, we human beings just aren’t naturally smooth. In fact, I am certain that I’ve told a story, the same one, to the same guy dozens of times. In my defense, however, if there’s a story that particularly connects me to someone, and I have limited other encounters with said person, the tale which we have in common between us just hovers between my frontal lobe and the back of my eyes, flashing like a neon sign, until I am compelled to tell it again — out loud. Sure, he knows he’s heard it before. I know I’ve told it before. That’s just the way it is. We smile and pat each other on the back nonetheless, as though we have spontaneously originated some new thought. We chuckle. We smile. It’s the same old repeated dance — we clearly know we’ve walked this path before, beyond any doubt whatsoever — but it’s our dance. And we like it, so we keep on doing it.
When we human beings go to a restaurant and someone comes in that we know — after we’ve been seated, after we’ve ordered — we might say something in this vein: “Boy, I’m sure glad to see you. I was needing somebody to come in who had some money so they could get mine.”
Ever heard that or a near version of it? If not, listen closer. I hear it every single day. It’s generally answered with “I was just thinking the same thing about you.” And the participating parties smile and chuckle and pat each other on the back.
People are just quirky and insecure and predictable. They seek inclusion and acceptance with small-talk rituals. People need people or at least they sure think they do. Bless their hearts.
And what else do we do?
Well, we rarely lead with what we truly mean to say.
Most things we do we do out of a sense of obligation.
We consistently drive over the speed limit … as though it’s merely a suggestion.
We’re timid when we should be bold, and we’re bold when we should be timid.
We talk about ballgames and the weather and long-lost cousins at funerals to mask our grief or to cover our lack of anything meaningful to say to the grieving.
We give to the needy to feel better about ourselves.
But we will occasionally stop what we are doing — something we might call “important” — to help a kid we don’t know put a chain back on a bicycle.
As bad as we don’t want to, we’ll go talk to a friend at a time of their trouble. When we’d rather run and hide and excuse ourselves by feigning busy-ness.
We recognize beauty in nature and in human creation, and we appreciate it.
We like kind people.
We’re not all bad. Sometimes we reach out and up. We strive and achieve and live altruistically for brief moments, even when our animal natures would have us do the opposite. I thank God that He gave us just a little spark of divine, a reflection, a flicker, somewhere in that whole created-in-His-image thing to help us do that. Quirky, insecure, predictable human beings that we are.
Tap – tap – blow.
Yes, we hear you fine. Go ahead.