Monday, December 17, 2007

Radio for a Tender Heart

Even Google can't help me find the quote I am trying to remember today. Something along the lines of:

Your heart has to crack wide open
to let the grace fall in

It looks like I'm going to have to rely on old-fashioned human intelligence. If any of my readers can help straighten me out on the exact quote and source I'd be mighty appreciative. (I love Google but I am secretly glad every time the human brain does something the search engine can't do.)

My heart has cracked open and then closed up again several times over the past few years, for reasons both joyous and grievous. I have shared some of these events with my blog readers but not all of them. I admire the honesty of good memoirists, and all I can think is that if I ever wrote a memoir it would have to be called Things I Don't Want You To Know. I think you have to be willing to tell the whole story; otherwise you're really just writing promotional copy about yourself.

So while you won't get my true confessions yet, I can point you to a radio show that will give you tender food for an open heart. I have been listening to This American Life since 1996. The first show I remember hearing was episode #14, Accidental Documentaries, and I'd like to recommend this week's show, #345, Ties that Bind.

I'm feeling particularly vulnerable right now as I await my Mom's mastectomy on Friday. I am resisting the temptation to ball up into a hard shell like I might typically do. But what can one really listen to, do, or watch in this state? So much of what is broadcast at us comes in the form of completely mindless, distracting, salty potato chip stories that feel satisfying going down, leaving no afterthought whatsoever except a vague feeling of anxiety or dissatisfaction with life.

This American Life is a show of real stories and ideas, with plenty of humor, emotion and true creativity. This week's show hit every note I can imagine, from a hilarious imagining of a fallout between Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble; to a story of a girl getting a heart transplant, and the family who had to lose their son to make her survival possible; to a story of a woman taking up a doctor on his casual, insincere offer, and realizing her dream of having a family. The show made me think about a close friendship that was revoked with no honest explanation, and reminded me to be grateful for every warm squeeze of my daughter's hand. It made the think of the times I have checked in on her during the night, in complete darkness, having to listen in stillness through the sound of my own heartbeat to hear her breathe.

This American Life is available by free podcast, so if you have missed the last 13 years of broadcast magnificence it's still all there for you to discover if you wish. I just sent in my donation today to help WBEZ cover their $152,000 cost of making the podcast available. But this is not a fundraising pitch from me, it's a listening pitch. And a thank you to Ira Glass and his production crew for giving us something that is so worth listening to when we are really listening.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ears wide open, I'll give it my all.

4:16 PM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

Karen, if the only outcome of this blog post is that you listen to This American Life, it will already be worth it. One practical note; even if you don't have an iPod you can probably download a copy of the show and burn a CD if you don't feel like listening through your computer.

I really enjoyed writing this post and I was thinking of you in particular. With my Mom's illness I really feel like I either have to sleepwalk through the experience or wake up. The question forming in my mind is, "My goodness, I am waking up, NOW WHAT?" Mainstream American society, and media in particular, doesn't offer much to support an awake brain and spirit. Perhaps I will end up developing a meditation practice. It's interesting because in the past I've felt like I should meditate, and this time I might choose to meditate because I am feeling awake.

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just finished, and it's all true!
You're right about media not supporting wakefulness. It is, by its very design, a numbing distraction.

But this program was perfect in my eyes, perfect in my ears. I felt the heartbeat and did not turn away. Do not turn away!

When you want to learn how to meditate, I will personally come to North Carolina. We will gather like-hearted women around us. We will make society slow down, be still and listen. I promise all this and more if you choose to stay awake.

Your friend,

1:56 PM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

Thank you, Karen. That is a wonderful idea, and generous offer, and I believe we will make it happen.

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Manic Mommy Erin said...


Just wanted to let you know I am thinking of you and keeping your mom in my prayers. I, too, am a fan of This American Life and find myself running errands on Sunday afternoon just so I can sit in the grocery store parking lot and listen. Here's wishing you only the best in 2008.

3:23 PM  

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