I’m Just Saying: We’re all just walking each other home

Published 4:11 pm Thursday, December 21, 2017

A few days ago what might be considered one of the most touching gifts I’ve ever received was sent to me via email.

A little back story: when I hosted my radio show for several years, oftentimes listeners would send me emails of what they considered to be funny anecdotes or noteworthy news items for me to read on-air. Some were indeed funny, some outrageously offensive, some simply uninteresting. The show was syndicated, meaning our audience was growing, and with that came a plethora of emails every day.

Radio, I came to learn, was a completely different animal than performing stand-up comedy because whilst the show was comedic in nature, when performing as a talk radio host, I had to remember I was talking to perhaps just one person perhaps sitting in their car or office or hospital bed and not a concert venue with several hundred in attendance as an audience. It’s far more intimate, personal…

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But none of that was swirling around my head as I logged into my email account each morning pre-show and sighed at the sizable number of emails awaiting reply. I never liked to simply delete them as I’ve always thought of the audience as my employers — they are, in fact — so I often typed a quick note to say, ‘Thanks for this! Will see if we can use it.’  And sometimes we did use the suggestions on air but more often we didn’t.

So when I received an email a few days ago from a former listener I had to think really hard to recall exactly who he was. Yes, I did begin to remember as he mentioned that he used to send me funny headlines for the news portion of the show. America was mired in Iraq, the recession was beginning, people were losing their homes and so we aimed to make our news segment absurdly comedic to give the public a few minutes of levity. In fact, we went through a phase where we dedicated our entire news segment to stories exclusively about monkeys. And I used several of the suggestions he sent.

But I had long forgotten him nor did I remember his name until he emailed me. And I caught my breath when I read that he wrote just to say hello and to thank me because during the time he was sending me his funny headlines he was facing a lot of challenges. He finished by telling me that I had helped to save his life.

He has given me permission to mention his experience which I consider to be yet another precious gift and I share his story not for any back-patting plaudits for myself, but as a stark reminder which will remain forever with me: sometimes when we extend the briefest positive response, even if it isn’t very significant to us at the moment, we have no idea how impactful it might be.

Yes, we know all about the ‘Golden Rule’– we know we should be patient and kind when interacting with our fellow neighbors, however, during times of deadlines and stress, it’s easy to become self-absorbed in order to deal with what we feel to be our daily priorities: work, kids, bills…

And in between those priorities there might be people who are falling through the cracks to whom a kind word or enthusiastic reply might make all the difference in the world.

Therefore I thank this gentleman, whom I now feel emboldened to call friend, for awakening in me what’s most important, and I borrow the heart swelling quote from Ram Dass to keep reminding myself each day:

We’re all just walking each other home.