I’ve been thinking of starting a list, or a file, or …who knows…a book, about People Who Tell Me How I Feel. I am not talking about those who actually talk to me and might say, “You’re mad” when I’m sad or some such thing. I’m talking about the real deal. About those occasions when you get an aha moment from someone who describes their experience in such an insightful way that it sheds light on your own.

I’ve been a fan of Kevin Kling for some time for just this reason and if I went back through my journals I could probably find several quotes that Told Me How I Feel.

Kling’s left arm is shorter than his right due to a birth defect. Since a motorcycle accident ten years ago in which he nearly died, and that came close to destroying his “good arm”, he’s become a prolific performer, writer, radio host, playwright and who knows what else.

Here’s his latest Telling Me How I Feel quote:

“When you are born with a disability you grow from it. But when you have a disability experience later in life, you have to grow toward it. You are still the same person you were, but physically you aren’t. You have to transform into this new person.”

My spiritual experiences were my “I am the same person, but I’m not” experience.  I did not have the same abilities I used to have, and that’s something I want to say is “the truth” but I’ll settle for calling it a fact.

I love what he says about having to grow toward the disabilities … or you could say grow toward the inhabiting of new abilities that will replace the old. It’s not a done deal with the experience. You have to transform into the new person that has been thrust upon you by your experience.

This is the best description of spiritual experience I’ve read in a long while: You have to grow toward it. You have to transform into a new person…while staying the same person.

This one theme could take in all kinds of stories about life, and I guess that’s what Kling does. He does it with simplicity, humor, and pathos.

There are others who transform without the lightness or humor that softens their truth telling. It might be profound or beautiful, but it’s not humor. The great spiritual writers are like this.

Creative types of all kinds are great for their Telling Me How I Feel qualities too. Here’s Yoko Ono, speaking on John Lennon’s creative process:

“He was always doing it. It was almost like the pen and the guitar were both his security blankets. His art was directly connected to his emotions. He wanted to somehow survive through all the difficult and depressing times. That’s what an artist does – it’s the basic idea of wanting to express something and connect ….”

And then there are the practical-life folks. I just saw this one in the paper about caregivers from Molly Cox, a fellow Minnesotan:

“Whether you are taking care of your mother, a special-needs child, or a spouse, everyone has the same experience that generates a common response. “If you ring that bell one more time … if you ask me to do one more thing… Everyone experiences it. Only half of the people talk about it.”

What I hear in the expressions of these folks who Tell Me How I Feel – is sometimes inspiring, other times relieving, always appreciated.


St. Paul Pioneer Press,“Care for the caregivers,” by Caryn Sullivan, 12-9-2011, 10B

Kline rap, by Mary Ann Grossman, 6E

Ross Raihala, Music Sound Affects columnist, 6A