Yesterday was the kind of day that makes you wonder whether the world really has gone crazy. Now we can add the Belgian terrorist attacks to a long list of awful things that seem to happen on a weekly basis. When you look at the big picture, it really can seem hopeless.
I had to escape the news cycle. You can only hear so many sad and depressing stories before you reach your limit, knowing you're powerless to help anyone. So I put This American Life's most recent episode on my podcast app and listened while I worked on my reactor.
If you're a writer, or you just need to hear a story about how humans can be amazingly kind, you should listen to this week's episode. It's about a young boy who back in the 80's ran away from home in order to find the fantasy author Piers Anthony, and ask if he might live with him on his small farm in rural Florida. Anthony's response was maybe not what the boy was hoping, but it was exactly what he needed, and it was by far the kindest thing he could have done for this poor stray kid.
I used to read a lot of Piers Anthony when I was in middle school, and it was an escape for me too; escape from all the mean girl bull shit and isolation that I think a lot of us experienced during those early teenage years. The author notes at the end of many of Anthony's novels were a fascinating glimpse into what life might be like to be a professional writer. I knew that I'd like nothing better than to write all day, comfortable in in my quiet country life as Anthony seemed to be. That's still my wish today.
Anyway, like I said, if you're in need of a happier story to remind you that people really aren't so bad, or if you're a Piers Anthony fan, take a listen to This American Life episode #470, "Show Me the Way." It's really good.