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When I was little, I wanted nothing so badly in the world than to grow up to be Alan Alda.
I idolized his version of Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H, the smartass surgeon who was just so good at what he did that he didn’t have to follow the rules, and could still find his fire and humanity in the middle of a war zone.
I wasn’t living in a war zone, of course. My situation was nowhere near as ludicrously awful as that.
It had its fair share of crazy though. The kind that makes for good memoirs, and intense therapy sessions.
And in the middle of that, I found a lifeline in that character. It opened my eyes to other ways of being, broadened my mental horizons beyond my immediate, very small, surroundings. It prepped me to take on the job I do now, where I do use my smarts and skills to do pretty much whatever I want, a job that wouldn’t even exist for decades after that show was being filmed.
Alan Alda, obviously, never had any idea. Almost certainly never will. He didn’t go into making M*A*S*H to inspire little girls thirty years down the road, or with any idea of what it would grow into.
But — I believe — he knew he had a conversation to champion.
One about what it means to be human, and especially about what it means to remain human in the midst of crazy, dehumanizing circumstances.
I can make that guess because that signature runs through all his work, from M*A*S*H to the West Wing right through to his autobiography, Don’t Ever Have Your Dog Stuffed. Same motif. Same conversation.
You have one too.
It might be … let’s bring some integrity back to business.
It might be … every body is a good body.
It might be … stories save lives.
It might be … words matter. (If you’re me.)
You will probably never know the extent to which it matters. Who cares.
What is important is that you follow it.
The stakes are higher than you can possibly imagine. (More on that next week.)
But for now, it’s enough to know this: every single person is born with a conversation to champion.
And when you choose to follow through on that, and give it the attention and words it needs to develop, and you live into it … the world changes. Simple as that.
What’s your conversation?
I’d love it if you shared.
Not sure what it is? Tell me what you got. Let’s see if we can get there together.