As of this month, I’ll resume public speaking on a limited basis. This follows a year of “retirement” from public life.
I never stopped speaking entirely, despite my clear intentions. I kept receiving requests to speak, so when I had sufficient time and energy, given everything else I was doing, I agreed to appear, especially at local events. How could I turn down religion or education classes at South Dakota State or other schools?
Some of the circumstances that prompted my “retirement” last June have now changed, allowing for this return. But I don’t see myself returning to the heavy speaking schedule I kept in former years. That was crazy. Frankly, I paid the price. Coming back, I’ve set some limits, and I intend to honor them, even if it’s difficult, as I suspect it sometimes will be. I need ample free time for my personal life and for my creative work.
Despite more than ten years having passed, most audiences still want to hear me speak about the 47 days I spent in 1999 living voluntarily with my friend James Murray on the streets of Columbus, Ohio. When speaking on this subject, I usually focus on “the practice of being present,” the core discipline of my life that led me to the streets in the first place.
But I would also be happy to speak on a variety of other topics, such as the inseparability of personal spirituality and social conscience; exercising the moral imagination; songwriting, spirituality and social concern. Propose a subject. If I believe that I have something of value to say about it, I’ll give it a try.