Thursday, October 15, 2009

John Smith Made Me Cry

Being abroad for so long involves a lot of alone time, which, in turn, allows for a lot of time to catch up on TV. As I haven't had cable for the past 4 years, I've mostly relied on watching TV shows on DVD anyway. The day before I left for England, I took a couple of hours to run around San Francisco (where I was vacationing before I came here) to buy some essentials for my three-month tour survival kit. Along with stops at Walgreen's and Kiehl's for things like my facial scrub and contact lens solution, I also knew that I had to stop somewhere to pick up some seasons of television on DVD. I have learned these past few years that TV can be dicey abroad (although I have since discovered that it is not so bad here in the UK, despite having only 4 channels...). As I traipsed around the city, I yearned for the days when Tower Records and Virgin still existed, and then it occurred to me to duck into Border's. I ran around the store picking up some reading material and then browsed the picked-over, messy, small DVD section for things to keep me entertained. Thankfully, I did find one of the TV shows I was looking for -
This American Life, Season 2.

Watching the final episode last night with my friend Susie, I found myself holding back tears as they told the story of John Smith - or of many different John Smith's. I was caught off guard at this portrait of the fact that regardless how different each person's life seemed to be, the journey of life is something that each one of them had in common. I'm not really sure how to put it into words, but I found myself relating to these vastly different people in different stages of their lives, feeling some sort of primal connectedness. Somehow, the stories of these vastly different men and boys became the story of everyman. As humans, our life journeys are so different, and yet so the same. It was This American Life truly at their best.
Do yourself a favor in case you missed it and rent it. If you are a Netflix member, you can stream it instantly here.

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