PUBLISHER’S DESK: THE BEST WORTH THING TO HAVE HAPPENED
There’s a short clip from a conversation between talk show hosts Anderson Cooper and Stephen Colbert that has been making the rounds on social media as of late. It’s not new — it’s from an interview that aired on CNN in August of 2019 that focused on grief — but for one reason or another it’s really gained traction on Instagram and Facebook.
And it packs a punch.
Here’s the exchange that hits hardest.
Cooper: You told an interviewer that you have learned, in your words, “Love the thing that I most wish had not happened” … You went on to say, “What punishments of God are not gifts.” Do you really believe that?
Colbert: Yes. It’s a gift to exist. And with existence comes suffering. There is no escaping that. I guess I’m either a Catholic or a Buddhist when I say those things. I’ve heard those from both traditions. But I did not learn it, that I was grateful for the thing I most wish hadn’t happened. It’s that I realized it. And it is an oddly guilty feeling.
Cooper: It doesn’t mean you’re happy about it.
Colbert: I want it to not have happened. But if you are grateful for your life, which I think is a positive thing to do, not everybody is and I’m not always. But it is the most positive thing to do. Then you have to be grateful for all of it. You can’t pick and choose what you’re grateful for. And then, so what do you get from loss? You get awareness of other people’s loss which allows to you connection with that other person which allows you to love more deeply and to understand what it is like to be a human being if it is true that all humans suffer … I want to be the most human I can be and that involves acknowledging and ultimately being grateful for the things that I wish didn’t happen, because they gave me a gift.
I’ve watched the exchange many times the past week and it impacts me deeply because of its raw honesty. Part of the reason it comes with such meaning is because those who know Stephen Colbert know him through his humor, first on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and then on his own late-night show that airs on Comedy Central, The Colbert Report. But in his interview with Anderson Cooper he is real, warts and all, being as human as human can be.
Grief is a beast that this community has felt its fair share of as of late, and “loving the thing that I most wish had not happened” is far from easy. But Colbert is right; it is a gift to exist, and with that comes a range of emotions that only the human experience can provide. Looking at loss through that lens, while certainly not easy, can no doubt help with the grieving process and the healing that goes with it.
There is great comfort in that — and knowing that we’re not alone.
We are never alone.