Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I always come back to

this segment of This American Life featuring David Rakoff.




I heard it once while making a late night drive through Austin on my way to my mother's house. I wasn't paying attention when they announced who was speaking. Without much to go on, I spent months trying to type in bits I remembered into google and hoping that anything would come up. One day, I finally got the magical combination, something like "man with dead arm talks about grating cheese." Since then, I always come back to it when I need a pep talk or even when I just want to hear some beautiful words. I've played it so many times, I can almost recite the entire thing by heart (and sometimes do, while taking long showers). 

The part that probably leaves me feeling hungry to hear this again and again, to come back to it is the part where he talks about trying to achieve our greatest selves: 

"At dinner with friends recently, the conversation turned to what about yourself was still in need of change? They all seem to feel that they were living half-lives.
One fellow hoped that he could be more like the god Pan, unabashedly lusty and embracing experience with gusto. Another wanted to feel less disengaged at key moments, able to feel more fully committedly human, and less like that old science fiction B movie trope: "What is this wetness on Triton 3000's face plate?" "Why, space robot, you're crying!"
We were going around the table, so the natural progression of things demanded that I eventually get a turn to weigh in as well. Suppose you're out to dinner with a group of triathletes, all discussing their training regimens. And you have no legs.
They can't flat-out ignore you, and they also can't say words to the effect of, well, we all know what your event is. Getting all that marvelous wonderful parking, you lucky thing!
It was uncomfortable, and I suspect more for me than for them. I have no idea. But thanks to my rapidly dividing cells, I no longer have that feeling-- although I remember it very well-- that if I just buckled down to the great work at hand, lived more authentically, stopped procrastinating, cut out sugar, then my best self was just there right around the corner.
Yeah, no. I'm done with all that."

This part speaks to me as a reminder just to live. To remember to live in spite of all the things I'd like to change, or all the things I feel are putting my life on pause. 

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