In October, The New York Times Magazine did a fantastic piece celebrating Terry Gross and her 40-year, 13,000-interview radio career.
If you’ve listened to her show, Fresh Air, you’ll likely agree she is “the most effective and beautiful interviewer of people on the planet.”
While the article references a range of past guests, I was over the moon to see her interview with Maurice Sendak highlighted. In 2011, she interviewed him about his new book, Bumble-ardy. However, their “chat” — as Gross calls it — goes so much deeper than a book review.
Even reading about the interview made my throat tighten with emotion. As the article explains, the conversation takes a poignant, powerful turn to become "a meditation on his nearness to death.”
Every time I listen to their dialogue — and I've done so a dozen times — I am touched to the core by his raw and tender reflections on living. Each time I listen, my gratitude for life is renewed and I am left in awe of this human experience.
Below are a few of Sendak's thoughts that still hold tremendous impact for me:
“There’s something I’m finding out as I’m aging. That I am in love with the world. […] I see my trees — my beautiful, beautiful maples that are hundreds of years old. They’re there, they’re beautiful. And you see, I can see how beautiful they are. I can take time to see how beautiful they are. It is a blessing to get old. It is a blessing to find the time to do the things, to read the to books, to listen to the music."
"I have nothing but praise now, really, for my life. I’m not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. I cry a lot because they die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more."
"Oh God, there are so many beautiful things in the world that I will have to leave when I die, but I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready. […] I’m a happy old man, but I will cry my way all the way to the grave."
"I wish you all good things. Live your life. Live your life. Live your life.”
If you have twenty minutes, I highly recommend giving it a listen. I look forward to hearing your favorite lines in the comments below.