I am a core subscriber to a half dozen or so podcasts. I have the schedule mostly memorized as to when a certain show will be available for download. The worst thing, before embarking on a lengthy drive or while in the midst of making a gourmet chicken with vegetable dinner, is not having a podcast to pass the time. Several weeks back, a situation presented itself where I was frantically searching for something in the Apple podcast browse section to pass the time when I stumbled across “Everything Happens.”
Kate Bowler was 35 when she was diagnosed with Stave IV cancer. She teaches at Duke Divinity School. She authored “Everything Happens (And Other Lies I’ve Loved.)” In 2016, she wrote a New York Times Op-Ed. Now, she brings on various guests with different backgrounds to discuss struggle, experiences in dark times mixed with occasional humor and insight that creates meaningful conversation. Take, for instance, Bowler’s most recent guest, Wes Moore.
Last May, Skidmore College’s commencement fell on a Saturday I had to work. Oprah Winfrey headlined the trio of accomplished speakers. I never knew Wes Moore’s story until that afternoon. Moore grew up in Baltimore where his father unexpectedly died when Wes was three. Soon after, his mother moved him and his siblings to the Bronx where Wes routinely misbehaved, eventually landing himself at Valley Forge Military Academy. Despite the tough situations he faced, Wes became a Rhodes Scholar, U.S. Army veteran and two-time New York Times Best Seller. Moore and Bowler spoke about his first book called “The Other Wes Moore,” which tells the story about two boys from Baltimore named Wes Moore, but instead of becoming an accomplished Rhodes Scholar, the other Wes is currently serving a life sentence in prison. Throughout the conversation, Bowler and Moore discuss the difference between sympathetic love and apathetic love, the decisions each boy made, the policies in place that impacted their lives and the people in their lives that shaped the decisions each boy made.
Before Moore dives into the nitty gritty specifics of his first book, he offers this quote: “We are all dealing with things, and the truth is that we don’t know what someone else is dealing with when they are dealing with it, because often times people just put on the brave face.” Moore then shares a portion of a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar called, “We Wear the Mask.”
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile
The conversation with Moore runs 35 minutes. The longest conversation Bowler has carried during six episodes ran 45 minutes, which was a gut-wrenching, wide-ranging discussion with pediatric oncologist Dr. Ray Barfield. Even if the conversations tend to be unbearably sad, there’s real lessons learned through each episode. The stories are different. The guests are genuine in more ways than one. It’s a refreshing listen.