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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

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The Story of the Cracked Pot

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Ashridge Park, Hertfordshire, UK | National Trust Woodlands carpeted with English Bluebells in Spring (4 of 5)English bluebells in spring of Ashbridge Park, Hertfordshire. (photo: UK Garden Photos/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)

On these early spring days, this story Kevin Kling told us is a fine way to kick off the week:

"Back in the days when pots and pans could talk, which indeed they still do, there lived a man. And in order to have water, every day he had to walk down the hill and fill two pots and walk them home.

One day, it was discovered one of the pots had a crack, and as time went on, the crack widened. Finally, the pot turned to the man and said, ‘You know, every day you take me to the river, and by the time you get home, half of the water’s leaked out. Please replace me with a better pot.’

And the man said, ‘You don’t understand. As you spill, you water the wild flowers by the side of the path.’ And sure enough, on the side of the path where the cracked pot was carried, beautiful flowers grew, while other side was barren.

'I think I'll keep you,' said the man.

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Storyteller Kevin Kling: A Twitterscript

by Susan Leem, associate producer

Kevin KlingKevin Kling is “part funny guy, part poet and playwright, part wise man.” And, we here at On Being were delighted to have the playwright and storyteller in our studios to share his life lessons and experiences with us.

On February 9, we live-tweeted highlights of his  interview with Krista Tippett and have aggregated them below for those who weren’t able to follow along. Follow us next time at @BeingTweets.

For those not familiar with Kevin Kling, he is a prolific writer, performer, and a nationally recognized artist.  He may be best known for his storytelling and commentaries at National Public Radio. With humanity and wit, Kling describes life growing up in the Midwest with his congenital birth defect, and how he’s been changed after surviving a near-fatal motorcycle accident.

  1. Kevin Kling is in the room now (1pm CST - 2:30pm). Please join our live video stream and chat with us at http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:00 PM]
  2. "I was always blessed to be around good storytellers." ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:11 PM]
  3. "I still think of spirit through the breath." ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:12 PM]
  4. "Humor is a way to establish trust." ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:14 PM]
  5. "For the rest of my life I will have a foot in another world." ~Kevin Kling, on living after a motorcycle accident http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:19 PM]
  6. "Shakespeare could get pretty folksy." ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:20 PM]
  7. "Compassion can have a shelf life." ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:23 PM]
  8. "When you are born w/ loss, you grow from it. When you experience loss later in life, you grow toward it." ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:29 PM]
  9. "There are blessings in my curses every day, even today." ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj  [9 Feb, 1:37 PM]
  10. "[A good cry] is like an inward sauna." ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:39 PM]
  11. "With every discovery, a million more mysteries come up. It’s more important to find solace in a mystery." ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:43 PM]
  12. "Sense of humor is not only regional, it’s weather-driven." ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:46 PM]
  13. "We need to rewrite our stories so we can sleep at night" ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 1:58 PM]
  14. "Nobody’s an artist on purpose." ~Kevin Kling http://bit.ly/bmE6vj [9 Feb, 2:00 PM]
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What a wonderful Monday morning surprise. Our show with storyteller Kevin Kling has catapulted our On Being podcast to #15 on iTunes’ Top Podcast list. It’s so cool to be in the company of such an eclectic and groovy array of podcasts — from The Moth to Real Time with Bill Maher and TedTalks. Kling’s insights are profound and delightful, and I only hope more people get to know him.
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

What a wonderful Monday morning surprise. Our show with storyteller Kevin Kling has catapulted our On Being podcast to #15 on iTunes’ Top Podcast list. It’s so cool to be in the company of such an eclectic and groovy array of podcasts — from The Moth to Real Time with Bill Maher and TedTalks. Kling’s insights are profound and delightful, and I only hope more people get to know him.

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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Turning the Gifts of Our Experiences Into Story and Laughter

by Krista Tippett, host

Kevin KlingFull disclosure: until I moved to Minnesota, I didn’t get the Midwestern accent/humor thing thing that the movie Fargo so iconically captured. But I remember hearing Kevin Kling on NPR and staying with him despite myself, always being touched as well as amused at where his stories took me.

Having only heard him on the radio, I wasn’t aware of the disability he was born with — his left arm much shorter than his right, with no wrist and no thumb. Then, about ten years ago, he was in a catastrophic motorcycle crash. The Associated Press and the local newspapers in Minneapolis and St. Paul reported the accident. Eyewitnesses thought he had died. The accident had paralyzed his healthy right arm, the one which had always done the bulk of the work.

Reading his stories from and about his childhood — they are legion — it is clear that Kevin Kling was always a natural humorist. And life has also made him wise.

Our losses make us human, he’s learned. They give us our richness and our wisdom. But wisdom doesn’t come cheap; it costs us. This is one of the endless things he says that makes you think hard just before or after he makes you smile.

We get the whole package of Kevin Kling in this conversation: funny guy, poet, wise man. As deeply down to earth as he is — in life as on stage — he also has an innate love of literature and philosophy, weaving Shakespeare and Dante into his stories as easily as Goofus and Gallant.

He describes himself as touched by Dante’s underworld. It’s a reality he feels he landed in, and wrested himself back from, after his accident. He also plays with Dante’s language about the underworld as he considers his very being and presence in the world. Dis, he says, is “the place of shadow and reflection where you round off the rough edges of torment and desire. You go to this world of Dis. And it’s the prefix for ‘disability,’ which doesn’t mean ‘unability.’ It means able through the world of shadow and reflection. And so it’s just another way of doing things… it is literally having a foot in two worlds.” This is how Kevin Kling experiences the “dis” in the disability he was born with, as well as the one he acquired in midlife.

And being able-bodied, he helpfully points out, is always only a temporary condition.

Sit back, relax, and prepare to reflect and to laugh. It’s a rare, lovely gift of Kevin Kling to make us do both. He helps us remember what he knows so well — that our sense of self and our sense of humor are great gifts in facing whatever life throws at us. Once we turn our experiences into stories and laughter, they no longer control us. The challenge is in not merely resting with the stories that help us sleep at night, but claiming the stories we want to grow into.

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