Don’t you love when something has been around for years and then you discover it? Over a decade in, and only now I’m a convert.
What is the source of my illumination, you ask? A radio show which puts humanity on display. An acclaimed program that changes how you think about things. Every week, we learn that life is life.
This American Life, that is.
The radio show has been haunting the airwaves for over a decade. Hosted by veteran journalist Ira Glass, TAL does documentaries with a theme, almost every week, with the show also available as a podcast as well.
I first heard of TAL when I saw the Pixar Disney movie The Incredibles. One of the characters was voiced by Sarah Vowell, a regular contributor to TAL. When I heard this, I noted it and promptly went on with my life. Flashforward to last year, and some other podcasts I listen to mentions TAL. Was it CGS? Was it Raging Bullets? The answer is lost to history. One download later and I am now on a journey.
Different episodes, different ideas, different feelings. Glass and the TAL team cover a topic from various angles. Sometimes the subjects are vague, like the one about things that seemed like a good idea at a time, where the connecting thread is tenuous at best. Others, an entire episode about one drug court, are excellent. You can feel the care taken with each segment. Getting the facts, revealing the emotions and showing us the meaning of our lives.
One recent TAL was a tale of prisoners doing Hamlet. Hearing the inmates relate to the Dane and his motivations was heartbreaking. After the performance, the prisoners got to mingle with “real people” and talk about the play. They all felt human. Something they longed for.
Often I let several TAL accumulate before I listen. Each hour-long show have new surprises awaiting me. Always learning, always.
Go Learn, Young Jedi, Go Learn.
P.S. Go to iTunes or their website to download episodes. You can reach TML at: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/