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Touching Just One Person

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Touching Just One Person

This week, Iíve been busy with the California leg of my book tour to promote my new book, What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend. I spoke to a rowdy, vagina-friendly audience of 400 students at Sonoma State University, then 150 hooting, cheering, go-for-it girlfriends at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. So when I showed up Thursday night at the small, private University of Redlands (population 2400), I found myself feeling disappointed that there were only 63 quiet, shy, mostly silent students there.

The bigger, the better?

It turns out that I love a crowd (who knew?) and yeah, the bigger, the better. Their energy feeds mine, and itís so much easier to get juiced up when people are guffawing at my jokes or crying when they are moved. A crowd has a life all its own, and as a public speaker, itís easier to have a conversation with the crowd as its own entity when itís a living, breathing organism of hundreds of individuals.

But Thursday night didnít feel that way. They put me in this great big room, where my audience only filled the first few rows (after I made them all scooch up front). As I started to speak, I felt my energy lag, as if I was back on the coastal hike, talking to myself, the way I practiced my talk for a month before I started my book tour. The people in the audience just werenít reacting much. There were a few scattered laughs, a smattering of cheers, and the occasional nod of someoneís head when I said something resonant. But compared to the bigger crowds, I struggled to stay ďon.Ē

The connection

Then I made eye contact with one young woman. She was stunningly beautiful, with these soulful, longing eyes that looked wounded in some way. When our eyes met, our gazes locked and neither one of us looked away. For the rest of my talk, I forgot about pleasing the crowd or being ďonĒ and I just spoke to her, as if we were sitting together over a cup of tea. She nodded, just like a friend would, and except for the fact that I couldnít stop to listen to her stories, it was like we were having a conversation, just the two of us.

When the talk ended, people clapped, but nobody rushed the stage like they did at Cal Poly SLO, where they literally tackled me with a group hug, and the young women lined up one-by-one to get one of the free hugs I was passing out. At University of Redlands, I stepped off the stage and walked back to the book signing table, where one woman was waiting for me to sign her book (instead of the 60 that were already lined up at Sonoma State when I finished my talk).

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the†Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of†Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.† She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.† Lissa blogs at† and also created two online communities -† and† She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.


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7:52PM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

a beautiful anecdote :) This is great timing, I too am only just starting to realize that it's okay not to be in charge and in control all the time. Success can come in many unexpected ways, large and small.

9:41AM PST on Dec 23, 2010

Beautiful article. Thanks for sharing it. It's just to remind us the little moments that make up a depressing day.. Thanks for the reminding. I needed this!!

9:02PM PST on Nov 12, 2010


7:33AM PST on Nov 9, 2010


3:12AM PST on Nov 8, 2010

I was moved to tears by this article.
I think the point for me was you never know when you may have the oppurtunity to touch someone and that we all must learn to do our best then let what the universe will, happen (which to me is going with God's Will not mine). When we can do that we are in tune...and not attached to how it all turns out.

7:04PM PST on Nov 7, 2010

Master Plan? Are you serious? Happenstance.

1:24PM PST on Nov 7, 2010

@Nicole C - Yep. Links galore, almost every time... it's rather obvious at this point. Sadly, it'll work on most people. Oh well.

12:02PM PST on Nov 7, 2010

As an Introvert who is slow to approach people who might be swamped by others repeatedly, I don't know...Book selling, sorta old, and yet I can see that's where your experience is happening.
Thanks for writing.

2:12AM PST on Nov 7, 2010

Just yesterday I went to Amsterdam, Van Gogh museum and all, but when I was in the train back, I was thinking that the whole experience was nice but not great, and then I suddensly heard somebody playing the guitar. It turned out that a guy in the train is a musician and, bringing his guitar with him during the journey, he just took it out and started to play. All the compartment (including me, shinning) started singing those very very nice country songs and we felt so together, people that didn't know each other and probably wouldn't have made any effort to change this during the trip if it wasn't that smiling guitarist who made my day and was the cat's pyjamas of it all.

9:39PM PDT on Nov 6, 2010

thanks for the article.

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