It's this past December. I'm about to be on a podcast which I do often. But this time, everything goes wrong.
I forgot it was happening, or got lost in time. I don't know. I've had to start setting timers on my phone, but back in December I didn't use timers, so I'm close to ten minutes late for this Zoom which as you know is not a place to show up fashionably late. The host is chill but I feel mortified.
We're settling into a bit of pre-interview chit-chatting, truncated by my lateness, when I notice my WiFi getting choppy. The host is mid-sentence as I switch over to ethernet which turns out to be dead. I swear and pull my fingers through my hair and and switch back over to my wavering WiFi. That's when I realize that the host has started recording our convo and is awaiting my response to his first official interview question which got lost in the airwaves. I swear under my breath and apologize for how all of this is going. The host laughs it off which helps me settle myself. I take a really deep breath to force myself to get my shit together, smile, then gush over how excited I am to be talking about something different for a change. The host stares out at me. I can't tell if I'm in the middle of another WiFi glitch or if that's the actual look on his face.
"Just so we're clear?" he says. "What's the topic you believe we're about to discuss?"
"Kindness!" I exclaim with enormous enthusiasm. The host, Dr. Jeremy Goldberg, is a kindness expert with a podcast called Long Distance Love Bombs. The chance to talk about kindness is why I agreed to do this thing in the first place.
"Oh shit." Jeremy says. "Yeah. I'm completely unprepared for that." He'd planned for a convo about parenting.
Now what. For a second, this unfolding recorded unscripted conversation feels awkward to us both. I assume Jeremy's going to edit all of this out and re-start, or flat out reschedule. But he doffs his hat to perfectionism and proceeds with a vibe of What the hell, let's keep going. He might even be enlivened by the fact that we are two strangers free to talk abut anything.
I encourage you to listen to our convo when you exercise, clean the house, commute, or wherever you are when you listen to podcasts. But I'm going to give you the gist here because I want you to glimpse the twists and turns we took, and where we got to. My last words to him were, "This was fucking different." Which I meant in the best way possible.
Jeremy opens by asking me why kindness matters. I tell him it's magic. And free. A type of free goodness which any one of us can take up and wield "like Thor, with his hammer." Jeremy's the kindness expert, but he says he's never heard anyone call it "magic" before. I appear to be onto something intriguing.
Jeremy then switches gears and springs on me that he'd posted something on social media that was controversial for him even to say as a "straight white dude in America." He says that ever since the post went up he's tried to get various experts to come onto his show to talk with him about it, yet has had no takers. Now here I am trapped as his interview subject, he says with a chuckle, so he wants to ask me what I think. I have no idea what's coming.
Jeremy says that he "feels bad for bad people." By way of example, he mentions Derek Chauvin, the police officer who murdered George Floyd. He then explains who George Floyd is for those who may not know. (Now he's got my full attention. May not know?)
We talk about whether it's okay to feel for the person who completely screwed up their own life in the act of killing someone else. I say I believe that we all start off innocent at birth. That remorse on the part of the perpetrator matters. About it being possible to hold two truths at once – hating what a person did and having compassion for them, too, with a heart for that innocent little kid they once were whose life would turn out to go well astray. I suggest there may be some perpetrators so lacking in remorse that I wouldn't have compassion for them.
It goes on. Multiple topics are explored. Along the way, I let loose.
It's almost the end of the hour when it slowly dawns on me that the entire conversation has been about kindness. Not a reductive or pedantic exploration of the subject, but a vast swirling galaxy of examples in which we might think about showing compassion for others. Even the way Jeremy behaved toward me during the shit show at the outset was kindness. And the magic of his kindness birthed an incredible interchange.
I close by telling Jeremy that at the holidays I like to jet off to the grocery store wearing my monogrammed Santa Hat in search of shoppers muttering over some item they simply cannot find. How I'll run to find the item and then come back to the confused shopper, and slow my breathing so that I can casually tell them where the item is. I'm hopeful that my Oh hey, you're looking for dark brown sugar? Yeah, it's on Aisle 8 is a punch to the gut. A good punch. The type that expels the hopelessness lingering inside their body. I want them to viscerally feel that even in a scary and fractured moment called our life right now, there are helpers.
At the 49:10 mark we get to a moment that leads one listener (@daisybe__) to post on her Instagram:
I'm not going to ruin it for you. Just. If you get a chance, go listen to that podcast, which is entirely different than every other podcast that I've ever done. At the end, Jeremy says to his listeners, "I hope it inspires you to take action. And to use the agency and opportunities that you have to create what Charles Eisenstein says is "The more beautiful world that our hearts know is possible." Yeah. Me too.
Remember, we are all there is, and we are enough. You can call my hotline (1-877-HI-JULIE) if you want to open up about anything. You can even tell me about the time someone wielded Thor's hammer of kindness in your direction. And what you did next.
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☎️ For those who can't comment publicly, I've set up the hotline 1-877-HI-JULIE where you can leave an anonymous voicemail to let me know what's on your mind. I summarize and respond to these calls live on my Facebook page on Mondays at noon Pacific Time (while keeping the caller's identity private).
⛑I am not a mental health practitioner or doctor. If you’re in crisis, I want you to get the help you need, right now. Text the Crisis Text Line at 741741. You deserve to be supported. So, if this is speaking to you right now, please text them.
🎁 If you've read this far, you are definitely entitled to a free "Julie's Pod" sticker for your laptop, phone, or water bottle courtesy of me and the U.S. Postal Service. Just DM me your snail mail address (or if you don't know how to DM a person, just email firstname.lastname@example.org). I promise to toss your snail mail address in the trash as soon as I pop the sticker in the mail to you!
🤎 Keep being kind y'all. Wield that hammer.
© 2021-22 Love Over Time LLC All Rights Reserved
📸 Cover Photo Credit: Getty Images/Hiroshi Watanabe/DigitalVision
📸 Inside photo with permission from @daisybe__