Sunday, January 30, 2011

Why a Pulitzer May Not Be The Real Prize

Listening to NPR recently, I heard a conversation with Studs Terkel. Agreed, you’d have heard news of the interview before now if it had been live. It was actually held a short time before his death in 2008.

For the better part of the discussion, Terkel’s signature voice maintained its gruffness and enthusiasm. Thinking back, it must have been the change in tone that caught my attention—I was after all listening and trying to be a conscientious driver! Though I can’t recall if his manner of speech shifted in response to a particular question, it seemed to result from a natural progression of his thoughts.

It also appeared he was hearing his thoughts for the first time along with everyone else.

Studs Terkel—author, actor, historian, broadcaster and Pulitzer Prize winner—questioned (forgive me for paraphrasing) if he’d been a success at the things that really mattered, had he done the right things and always been a good person.

The interviewer, apparently overcome with a self-imposed need to ease Terkel’s internal dilemma, quickly interrupted with reassurances that he was human.

The ninety-six year-old remained in that soft-spoken place, saying he’d used that excuse all this life.

Terkel sharing his inner-most thoughts at the end of his life, yet another reminder: If, on our deathbed, we have regrets, none will be that we’d spent more time on the job.

Why, I ask you, is it so hard for some of us to remember that?

Oh, right. We’re human. --Diana